'85 Royals fondly recall capturing glory
FanFest continues with memories of World Series triumph
KANSAS CITY -- It took a while. It wasn't until after 4,200 fans passed into the very busy Overland Park Convention Center on Friday. The evening was winding down at the Royals FanFest, and there was a commotion on the main stage. Loud music, K-Crew girls tossed souvenir gloves and pennants into the crowd, the fans chanted "Let's go Royals!"
Finally, onto the stage they came, the 1985 World Series champions -- 18 of them plus broadcaster Denny Matthews, the master of ceremonies. They wore their uniform jerseys, the popular powder blue, of course.
The 25th anniversary celebration of the Kansas City franchise's only World Series victory was under way. There was a happy drift through nostalgia as Matthews asked each player for a memory of 1985. Not hard to do for a team that twice was down, 3-1, in the postseason, and both times came back to win the series.
Interestingly, several of the men recalled little, offbeat memories.
Buddy Biancalana mentioned George Brett's second home run in the third game of the American League Championship Series in Kansas City, a 6-5 victory over Toronto that revived the Royals.
"I was looking out toward the left-field-bleacher area and, all of a sudden, I saw the fans start to stand up. It was like they were saying, 'One more time!' And it was the next pitch -- the most amazing, vivid memory of my life -- when he drove it over the left-field fence," Biancalana said.
Steve Farr was a rookie when, in Brett's big game, he pitched the final 4 1/3 scoreless innings to get the victory.
"So after the game, George comes up and says, 'Hey, we've got to go to the media room to get interviewed.' I didn't know we had a media room," Farr said. "So, that was my highlight, sitting in that media room with George."
Danny Jackson was on the training table before pitching the fifth game against Toronto with the Royals down, 3-1.
"Jamie Quirk walks in and says, 'D.J., don't worry. You pitch bad, we lose, we go home,'" Jackson said, laughing. "That's a little bit of incentive for you. It's like I didn't know anyway. It did kind of break the ice a little bit."
Jackson went the distance to beat the Blue Jays, 2-0.
After the Royals lost the first two World Series games at Kansas City, there was a small moment at St. Louis that Brett felt was responsible for firing up the Royals.
"When they introduced the Cardinals and Ozzie Smith and he ran out onto the field and did a backflip, I think everybody on this team looked at each other and said, 'Let's go kick their you-know-whats,'" Brett said. "Every time I see Ozzie, and that's about two times a year, I thank him for waking us up."
Frank White remembered sitting in the lockeroom before Game 5 with Willie Wilson.
"We were facing elimination in St. Louis and ABC came in and were setting up all the cameras because they wanted to get the losers crying and all that other stuff," White said. "And Willie said, 'We're not losing this game tonight.' And he looked at the guys putting the lights up and said, 'You guys might as well take those lights down, you're not going to use 'em tonight.'"
The Royals won, 6-1, and it was back to KC.
Steve Balboni remembered after the Royals won Game 6 to tie the series, he was sitting at his locker next to Hal McRae.
"And Hal just looked up and said, 'It's over. We're going to win.' And, sure enough, we all came out the next day and that was the attitude we had on the team. And I looked across the way and [the Cardinals] looked worried," Balboni said.
As well they should have, because Bret Saberhagen pitched a shutout in an 11-0 runaway.
"Before the game was probably the most nervous I've ever been in my life," Saberhagen admitted. "I was next to George and I couldn't sit in my locker. I was back and forth, all over the place before the game. But once we got out on the field we got so many runs so early."
Wilson thought about the last out of the World Series, a fly ball by Andy Van Slyke.
"Darryl Motley and I were fighting for the ball in right field and I was calling it all the way from center field," Wilson said. "As it turned out, Darryl made the catch and it was probably the happiest moment I've ever had in Kansas City."
Motley, after the catch, recalled the party in the clubhouse.
"Hal McRae came up to me and said, 'Well, Darryl, maybe now you'll be as great as me,'" Motley said.
The odd thing was that not one of the '85 Royals mentioned the famous call by umpire Don Denkinger in Game 6 that led to KC's 2-1 win in the ninth inning.
It didn't come up until, in a question-and-answer session, a fan asked Jorge Orta if he was really safe on the play that still aggravates Cardinals fans. Orta's answer was quick and concise.
"I was," he said.
The hour-long session wrapped up a busy day. There was one foulup when Saberhagen did not show for a mid-afternoon autograph session with the Royals' other two Cy Young Award winners, Zack Greinke and David Cone. Officials blamed a "miscommunication."
Saberhagen arrived later for his scheduled appearance with the other '85 players to sign autographs and take part in the main stage show.
The two-day event will conclude with a session from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. Many of the current Royals and 17 alumni, including 12 members of the '85 team, will be on hand.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.