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.
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 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.