Playoffs Past

Lou Piniella threw a fit after being called out at the plate in 1978 at Yankee Stadium.

Lou Piniella threw a fit after being called out at the plate in 1978 at Yankee Stadium.

The fact that the Kansas City Royals are rolling through the baseball playoffs after a 29 year absence fascinates me. To see fans so excited brings back many wonderful memories of the great Royals’ run that led to their 1985 World Series title. Fortunately, I photographed the playoff games with the Toronto Blue Jays and then the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

In the subway station heading for Yankee Stadium with Kansas City photographer Bob Barrett.  (George Olson)

In the subway station heading for Yankee Stadium with Kansas City photographer Bob Barrett in 1976. (George Olson)

However, it was an image former Capital-Journal photographer George Olson sent me last week that made me think of the first run Kansas City made in the playoffs in 1976, 38 long years ago. Olson was working for the Kansas City Star in those years. For three years, the Royals and the New York Yankees battled in the American League Championship Series. The American and National Leagues were split into only two divisions. The winners met in a best-of-five series to determine the World Series teams. Certainly in the American League there were no two more dynamic teams than the Royals and the Yankees. During those years, they mounted fiery battles I will never forget.

A violent collision between Willie Wilson and Thurman Munson at home plate in 1978. The fierce collision spun both players in opposite directions.

A violent collision between Willie Wilson and Thurman Munson at home plate in 1978. The fierce collision spun both players in opposite directions.

A nice Plustek film scanner sits on my photo desk in the basement of our home. Purchased over a year ago with the idea I would start archiving my 45 years of photography, but rarely used yet, the Olson photograph made me decide to dig out a few negatives from those three year’s of playoffs.

All the needed images of players swinging bats, turning double plays, pitching and catching were in those files. Instead, I chose just a few that have special meaning to me from those three years. Since I grew up a Yankee fan and was heavily involved with the Royals and their great group of players, I could not lose. I was photographing two teams dear to me, with games in Yankee Stadium, and at only 25-27 years old loving my time in New York. For Royals fans way back when, the reality was that the Royals did lose. They did not slay the Yankees in any of those three years.

Today, I have no real connections to the Royals other than through friends George Brett, Mike Cummings – the team’s assistant media relations director who I worked with at KU – and the two best Royals fans I know, KU athletics media relations alums Beau White and Mason Logan.

Since I was not expecting this amazing run of electrifying baseball by the Royals, I earlier picked an all-Southern California World Series between the Angels and Dodgers. I now feel it will be an all-Missouri battle that brings this all back to 1985 and the magic of 29 years ago. Should the Cardinals and Royals meet, I’ll dig through the archives again for more incredible memories as today’s Royals make their own.

Thurman Munson seemed to bow to the Fred Patek after being thrown at second base in  1976. This photograph, picked up by AP, was the most widely used picture in the nation that day.

Thurman Munson seemed to bow to Fred Patek after being thrown out at second base in 1976. This photograph, picked up by the Associated Press, was the most widely used picture in the nation that day.

George Brett's aggressive style of baseball thrilled me for years. Here he took out Yankees' second baseman Willie Randolph in 1977.

George Brett’s aggressive style thrilled me for years. Here he took out second baseman Willie Randolph in 1977.

It was my privilege to cover the three playoffs with two of the finest journalist I know, the late Bob Hentzen and Ken Leiker posing in Monument Park in centerfield at the old Yankee Stadium.

My privilege was to cover the playoffs with two of the finest journalists I know, the late Bob Hentzen and Ken Leiker, formerly of the Capital-Journal, who posed in Monument Park in centerfield at the old Yankee Stadium.

 

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About jeffjacobsen

Thank you for reading my blog, Here I Stand. You can read all about me, my wife and my family on the Family page. God bless and keep you.
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7 Responses to Playoffs Past

  1. Earl Richardson says:

    Hey, which Plustek scanner are you using?

  2. jeffjacobsen says:

    I am using the PlusTex OpticFilm 8100. Works very well.

  3. Earl Richardson says:

    Thanks, Jeff. This run by the Royals brings back a lot of fond memories of covering the ’85 Series. I was fortunate enough to get tickets to Monday’s ALCS game; I’m taking my son-in-law to the game. He’s never been to a playoff baseball game: he grew up in Chicago and is a Cub’s fan. He was off at college when the Cubs were good for awhile. Should be fun. The game against Oakland was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.

  4. Earl Richardson says:

    I enjoyed being your caddy during 1985.

  5. Jeff says:

    Earl, you were far more than a caddy in ’85. You, me and John Bock were at the top of our games. One of my all-time favorite memories was the exchanges between the Star photographers in lab and the editor back at paper. If KC makes it to Series, I can go over all that. Enjoy game Monday. It will be special day.

  6. Earl Richardson says:

    Thanks, Jeff. But I was SOOOOOO green in 1985. I appreciate your kind comments. My enduring memory of that season is covering the Royals the night they clinched the AL West. I was in the locker room and got absolutely soaked with champagne. The shutter speed dials on my F2s got stuck because of it. I was afraid that if I got stopped by police on the way home, reeking of booze, that they’d never believe that I was sober and had been doused by Frank White, et al.

  7. Earl Richardson says:

    I’ll be interested to hear your recollections. I’ve never forgotten that I was never good enough to work for the KC Star. Is that stuck in my craw? Well, yes. It is.

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