Happy Birthday Buddy Biancalana

Sure, it’s Groundhog Day, so while you’re watching Bill Murray over and over today, also remember that today is the birthday of an important cog in Kansas City’s 1985 Championship team.

This is a man who was the talk of October and got on base more than any Cardinal during the I-70 Series. He captivated a nation during the best stretch of his career. I speak, of course, of Buddy Biancalana.

Buddy Biancalana.

Biancalana took over the starting shortstop job in September of 1985, wresting it from Onix Concepcion as the Royals overtook the Calfornia Angels in the AL West. Once he got into the World Series, Biancalana had what he called the best week of his life, getting on base ten times, playing great defense and delivering the game-winning hit in Game 5 while the Royals were down three games to one.

“I guess you can call him ‘Baby Ruth’ from now on instead of ‘Buddy’” is what Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog told the Sporting News after the game. Biancalana finished second in World Series MVP voting, but was edged by Bret Saberhagen.

How crazy would that be? World Series MVP Buddy Biancalana?

Back in June, the Kansas City Baseball Vault was happy to talk with Biancalana and at the time, we weren’t sure how open he’d be to acknowledging that, while his World Series was great, the rest of his year (and career) wasn’t very productive at all.

Year Tm G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1982 KCR 3 3 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .667 1.500 2.167 476
1983 KCR 6 15 2 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 7 .200 .200 .200 .400 11
1984 KCR 66 145 18 26 6 1 2 9 1 2 6 44 .194 .229 .299 .527 45
1985 KCR 81 161 21 26 5 1 1 6 1 4 17 34 .188 .277 .261 .538 50
1986 KCR 100 209 24 46 4 4 2 8 5 1 15 50 .242 .298 .337 .634 72
1987 TOT 55 74 5 11 1 0 1 7 0 0 2 22 .155 .178 .211 .389 3
1987 KCR 37 49 4 10 1 0 1 7 0 0 1 10 .213 .229 .298 .527 38
1987 HOU 18 25 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 12 .042 .080 .042 .122 -66
6 Yrs 311 607 70 113 16 7 6 30 8 7 41 157 .205 .261 .293 .553 51
162 Game Avg. 162 316 36 59 8 4 3 16 4 4 21 82 .205 .261 .293 .553 51
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/2/2013.

But he has a good sense of humor about it all.

“Well not only did I not play a whole lot, but I didn’t play well when I played!” he said with a chuckle.

Many will remember Biancalana for the ribbing he took from David Letterman, who had pitted him against Pete Rose in a hit countdown (during the season when Rose passed Ty Cobb as the all-time hits leader). The unusual name, the slight hitting numbers, and the wide gap between the two players made for entertaining segments. When Biancalana was a part of (and a huge part of) the World Series win, he ended up as a guest on Late Night with David Letterman.

Before Game 1 of the World Series, Biancalana sat in front of his locker room and said that he’d felt a “massive wave of fear” but didn’t have time to do anything but face it, and, as he says, it pushed him to have an experience in the zone. The rest is history. Not too bad for a player drafted ahead of Cal Ripken Jr. in 1978.

Now, Biancalana tries to help athletes prepare and find that zone experience through drills and concepts and training on the field to get the mind and body working for optimum performance. Here’s more:

Topics: Buddy Biancalana, Kansas City Royals

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