KC Royals: Fan Explains How Don Denkinger Cost Cardinals 1985 World Series


With the KC Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals deciding to wear 1985 throwback uniforms for Thursday night’s make-up game, we at Kings of Kauffman could not help but remember how sick we are of Cardinals fans who blame Don Denkinger for their 1985 World Series loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Really, after 30 years it’s time to give it up.

However, being the fair-minded journalists we are proud to be, we thought it was long past time we simply asked a St. Louis Cardinals fan to explain why Don Denkinger cost them a World Series title. We thought, with Cardinals fans insisting for 30 years that it was all Don Donkinger’s fault, perhaps there was something we overlooked.

I was lucky enough to encounter long-time Cardinal’s fan Justin Wailer, who kindly explained the situation to me before St. Louis’ 4-3 victory over the KC Royals Thursday night:


The Cardinals appeared poised to win the 1985 World Series up three games to two, leading Game 6 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning at Kansas City.

In what is now a legendary blown call, umpire Don Denkinger ruled Kansas City Royals designated hitter Jorge Orta safe at first base when replays showed that he was out (in a close play). Steve Balboni followed Orta’s infield single with another hit, putting runners at first and second after getting new life when Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark muffed Balboni’s foul pop-up.

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After Balboni’s single, KC Royals catcher Jim Sundberg attempted a sacrifice bunt. But, the Cardinals nailed lead runner Orta at third base. Redbirds catcher Darryl Porter missed a pitch for a passed ball, moving the runners to second and third. Then the Cardinals issued an intentional walk to designated hitter Hal McRae. to load the bases.

At that moment, pinch hitter Dane Iorg enjoyed the signature moment of his career with a two-run single that allowed the KC Royals to earn a miraculous walkoff win.

The Kansas City Royals won Game 7, with the Cardinals carping at home plate umpire Don Denkinger all game about balls and strikes, 11-0. Of course, Jack Clark’s dropped pop foul, Darryl Porter’s passed ball, and that the winning runs scored with one out makes no difference to many St. Louis Cardinals fans, including Justin Wailer.

In Cardinal’s lore, it’s still all Don Denkinger’s fault.

Notice that without Denkinger’s blown call, the TYING run would have scored with two outs in the inning. That scenario would have left the Kansas City Royals a chance to win the game with two outs in the 9th inning and a runner at first base. If they failed the score, the Cardinals still would have had to play the KC Royals in their home park in an extra inning game.

I guess in Cardinals’ land, that equates to a sure thing.

Of course, I can understand bitterness about Denkinger’s blown call 30 years ago. What I can’t comprehend is why Cardinals fans still bring it up today. They regularly wail about it on Twitter whenever the Cardinals play the KC Royals as you can see in these tweets from Thursday:

Maybe someday, St. Louis Cardinals fans will stop wailing about losing the 1985 World Series to the KC Royals.

Apparently, today is not that day.

[Note: I have great admiration for the St. Louis Cardinals organization and their ability to create a culture of winning across multiple generations. The Cardinals also enjoy a massive, and devoted, fan base. The only Cardinals fans that I have an issue with are the few who persist in telling the lie that Don Denkinger cost their team the 1985 World Series. The above video is, of course, a parody.]

The Editorial Staff at Kings of Kauffman humbly suggests that Royals fans bookmark this video, and post it whenever you see a Cardinals fan claim that Don Denkinger cost St. Louis the 1985 World Series.

Next: KC Royals Hand Has Been Forced With Starting Rotation

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