5. October 9, 1976: ALCS Game 5, Yankees vs. Royals
To this day, I despise Howard Cosell for his condescending swipes at the 1976 Kansas City Royals and the city of Kansas City. I was a child 40 years ago, but I still remember the shock of watching that ball fly over the right field fence in Old Yankee Stadium in 1976 hit by New York first baseman Chris Chambliss,
Back then, baseball only had four divisions and the title winners faced each other in a five-game playoff for the right to play in the World Series. Before that devastating blow, I was SURE the KC Royals were going to the World Series to play the mighty Cincinnati Reds.
The 1976 Kansas City Royals were a young team full of home grown stars like a 23-year-old George Brett, 26-year-old Dennis Leonard, 26-year-old Frank White, 24-year-old Al Cowens along with shrewd trade acquisitions like John Mayberry, Amos Otis, and Freddie Patek. Free agency had just come into the game, and the Yankees had already bought a veteran star in future Hall-of-Famer Catfish Hunter.
It didn’t seem fair.
But, the 1976 KC Royals fought the veteran Yankees to a draw in the first four games of the series, forcing a Game 5 at Yankee Stadium. The Royals opened the game by hanging two runs on Yankee starter Ed Figueroa in the first inning, only to watch New York even up the score in the bottom of the inning.
In the sixth, the Yankees took a commanding 6-3 lead and the game looked all but over—that is until AL Batting Champ George Brett shocked New York by slamming a three-run home run in the top of the eighth to knot the score at 6-6.
Chris Chambliss ended the game on the first pitch of the ninth inning with his blast off reliever Mark Littell.
Every time I see this highlight, I want to strangle the insufferable Howard Cosell. But, hey, the KC Royals franchise was only seven years old. There was always next year, right?
Next: October 9, 1977