KC Royals: Remembering the Black and Blue twinbills

(Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

The KC Royals established a bit of colorful baseball history May 15, 1982.

That year, the heavy metal band Black ‘n Blue got its first big break after its formation in Portland, Oregon. Kenny Wayne Shepherd released the song “Blue on Black” 16 years later.

But on one May day in 1982, the Royals broke out first when starting pitcher Vida Blue took the mound and teammate Bud Black was the second of three relievers used in a 10-5 loss to Boston in Kansas City. Blue pitched only the first inning, giving up two runs on two hits and a walk. Black entered in the fifth and allowed two runs on two hits and seven walks in his three innings. Ironically, in a game when Blue and Black both pitched for the Royals, it was Mark Clear who logged a save for the Red Sox.

Blue had arrived in Kansas City in March with reliever Bob Tufts from San Francisco in a deal that sent pitchers Craig Chamberlain, Atlee Hammaker and Renie Martin, and second baseman Brad Wellman to the Giants. Black came over from Seattle the same month as the player to be named later in a previous trade that sent infielder Manny Castillo to the Mariners.

Whether the club was trying to collect all the colors is uncertain, but second baseman Frank White was already a Royal and pitcher Scott Brown was acquired from Cincinnati for outfielder Clint Hurdle in December 1981. Hurdle and Black are also among many KC players who have gone on to manage in the big leagues. Brown pitched sparingly for Triple-A Omaha in 1982, and never appeared for the Royals.

That May game would be the last one Black and Blue would pitch in together during their two seasons together with the Royals, but they were far from being done as a duo.

Vida Blue and Bud Black each started in the same twinbill for the KC Royals.

Kansas City took it a step further Aug. 16 when Blue and Black were the starting pitchers in a doubleheader against the Yankees in New York. The Yanks, never a club to appreciate such a unique moment in history, swept the doubleheader 2-0 and 4-3.

Blue was spectacular in the opener, tossing a complete game four-hitter with his only mistake being turned around for a two-run homer by Yankee designated hitter Lee Mazzilli.

Game 2, a makeup game from a June rainout, saw Black work into the sixth inning, giving up two runs on five hits in taking the loss.

Black and Blue take on Chicago for the KC Royals in a 1983 doubleheader.

It wasn’t until June 5, 1983, that Black and Blue took the mound on the same day again in another twinbill, this one resulting in a split with the White Sox in Chicago.

This time it was Black who took the hill for Game 1, a 7-5 victory for the Royals. Black pitched into the seventh inning before he was replaced by relief ace Dan Quisenberry. Three unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh gave the White Sox a 3-2 lead, but a three-run home run from shortstop U.L. Washington put Kansas City back up for good in the eighth.

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Blue pitched four-hit ball through six innings in Game 2 and left with a 2-1 lead, but Mike Armstrong gave up a three-run double to Tom Paciorek as the White Sox put up a four-run eighth to win the nightcap.

By early August, Blue was 0-5 with a 6.01 ERA in 19 games and was released by the Royals. Blue later figured in a cocaine scandal that rocked baseball.

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While they only pitched on the same day three times in two seasons, Vida Blue and Bud Black left a colorful mark in Royals history.