1980 American League Championship Series
|Dates:||October 8 – 10|
|MVP:||Frank White (Kansas City)|
|TV announcers:||Al Michaels, Billy Martin and Jim Palmer|
|Radio announcers:||Ernie Harwell and Curt Gowdy|
|Umpires:||Steve Palermo, Joe Brinkman, Larry McCoy, Bill Haller, Ken Kaiser, George Maloney|
|1980 World Series|
New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals
Kansas City won the series, 3–0.
|1||October 8||New York Yankees – 2, Kansas City Royals – 7||Royals Stadium||3:00||42,598|
|2||October 9||New York Yankees – 2, Kansas City Royals – 3||Royals Stadium||2:51||42,633|
|3||October 10||Kansas City Royals – 4, New York Yankees – 2||Yankee Stadium (I)||2:59||56,588|
|WP: Larry Gura (1–0) LP: Ron Guidry (0–1)
NYY: Rick Cerone (1), Lou Piniella (1)
KC: George Brett (1)
The series opener saw the Yankees throw their ace, Ron Guidry, against the Royals' Larry Gura. In the top of the second, the Bronx Bombers jumped out to a 2–0 lead when Rick Cerone and Lou Piniella smacked back-to-back solo home runs. However, in the bottom of the inning, the Royals struck back. Amos Otis singled to center and stole second, and John Wathan walked. A wild pitch moved Otis to third and Wathan to second, and Frank White doubled both men home to tie the game.
The Royals moved ahead in the third, when George Brett walked and moved to third on a ground-rule double by Otis. A single by Willie Aikens plated both Brett and Otis, chasing Guidry from the game. Brett added a solo home run off Ron Davis in the seventh, and a Willie Wilson double off Tom Underwood in the eighth scored Darrell Porter and White to give Kansas City a 7–2 lead. The Yankees, meanwhile, could not score against Gura after the back-to-back home runs of the second inning, and the Royals' hurler went the distance as his team drew first blood in the series with a 7–2 victory.
|WP: Dennis Leonard (1–0) LP: Rudy May (0–1) Sv: Dan Quisenberry (1)
NYY: Graig Nettles (1)
Kansas City opened the scoring in the bottom of the third, as Darrell Porter and Frank White reached base with consecutive singles. Willie Wilson followed with a triple to right to bring both runners in, and then scored himself on a double to center field by shortstop U L Washington. The Yankees came back with two in the fifth, with Graig Nettles hitting an inside-the-park home run and Willie Randolph lashing a double to right to score Bobby Brown.
The eighth inning, however, proved to be the most memorable inning of the game, with the Royals clinging to their 3–2 lead and the Yankees threatening. Willie Randolph singled, and with two outs Bob Watson ripped a liner to deep left field. Confident in Randolph's speed, Yankee third base coach Mike Ferraro decided to wave Randolph home. Left fielder Willie Wilson overthrew his cutoff man, Washington, but third baseman George Brett made a heads-up play by backing up Washington. He then whirled and threw Randolph out at the plate. Television cameras panned the stands where Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner and General Manager Gene Michael were sitting. A furious Steinbrenner appeared to shout Ferraro's name as he turned to Michael. The Royals ended up winning that game by a 3–2 margin and Steinbrenner continued to fume over the play.
|WP: Dan Quisenberry (1–0) LP: Goose Gossage (0–1)
KC: Frank White (1), George Brett (2)
With a 2–0 series lead, the Royals headed to Yankee Stadium for Game 3. The Royals led by a run until the bottom of the sixth inning when one of the most bizarre plays of the series occurred. Oscar Gamble hit a ground ball up the middle fielded by the eventual ALCS MVP Frank White. White, a multiple Gold Glove winner, inexplicably threw to third base in an apparent attempt to get Reggie Jackson on a tag play. However, George Brett could not come up with the throw, allowing Jackson to score. The Yankees later added another run to gain a 2–1 advantage.
Holding on to a 2–1 lead in the seventh inning, pitcher Tommy John gave up a two-out double to Willie Wilson. Yankee manager Dick Howser brought in hard-throwing Goose Gossage, who gave up a single to U L Washington, bringing up George Brett. Brett had wowed the majors during the year, flirting with a .400 batting average, holding an average above .400 as late as September 19 before finishing the year at .390. Brett blasted a Gossage fastball into the upper deck, a three-run home run which stunned the Yankee Stadium crowd. The Royals had a 4–2 lead with All-Star reliever Dan Quisenberry on the mound.
The Yankees mounted a major threat in the eighth, loading the bases with no one out. Quisenberry then got Rick Cerone to line into a double play and the next batter to ground out to close out the inning. The ninth went one-two-three as the Royals and the long-suffering Kansas City baseball fans finally won the American League Pennant.
|Kansas City Royals||0||2||5||0||1||0||4||2||0||14||28||1|
|New York Yankees||0||2||0||0||2||2||0||0||0||6||26||1|
|Total attendance: 141,819 Average attendance: 47,273|
Dick Howser was fired shortly after the conclusion of the 1980 ALCS. Ironically, Howser would go on to win the 1985 World Series as manager of Kansas City. After losing the 1981 World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers (whom they had beaten in consecutive World Series in the 1977 and 1978 after besting the Royals for the American League crown), the Yankees would not again appear in the Fall Classic until winning in 1996 under veteran manager Joe Torre—in a coincidental twist, their best subsequent opportunity prior to 1996 was also during a strike-shortened season: when the 1994 season prematurely ended, the Yankees had the best record in the American League, which was also the second best in baseball.
Four men involved with the 1980 ALCS (Dick Howser, Bobby Murcer, Johnny Oates, and Dan Quisenberry) have died of brain cancer. (Tug McGraw and John Vukovich of the Philadelphia Phillies, who played against the Royals in that year's World Series, also succumbed to the disease, as did Ken Brett, who pitched for Kansas City in the 1980–81 regular seasons.)
- "1980 ALCS Game 1 – New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1980 ALCS Game 2 – New York Yankees vs. Kansas City Royals". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "1980 ALCS Game 3 – Kansas City Royals vs. New York Yankees". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- Anderson, Dave (October 10, 1980). "Steinbrenner Criticizes His Third Base Coach". The New York Times. p. A28.
- Chass, Murray (November 5, 1980). "Howser Weighing Decision on Future". The New York Times. p. A27.
- "Howser quits as Yanks' manager". The Globe and Mail. Associated Press. November 22, 1980. p. S9.
- Curry, Jack (September 15, 1994). "All the Magic Is Gone From the Yankees' Numbers". The New York Times. p. B11. Retrieved July 11, 2009.
- Curry, Jack (August 7, 1994). "Flashback to '81: Another Lead, Another Strike". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
- Kawakami, Tim (August 10, 1994). "'81, '94 Yankees Both Winners but Worlds Apart in Personality". The Los Angeles Times. p. C2.
Those who followed the 1981 New York Yankees...can't help but notice potential similarities with this year's first-place Yankee club.