Summary of Season
The St. Louis Cardinals’ 1985 season was the team’s 104th season in St. Louis, Missouri and the 94th season in the National League. The Cardinals went 101-61 during the season and finished in first place in the National League East division by three games over the New York Mets. After defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games in the NLCS, they lost in seven games in the World Series to their cross-state rivals, the Kansas City Royals in the I-70 Series. The World Series is known, somewhat unfortunately, for the infamous “safe” call on the Royals’ Jorge Orta by umpire Don Denkinger.
The Cardinals switched back to their traditional gray road uniforms for the first time in ten seasons.
Outfielder Willie McGee won the National League MVP Award this year, batting .353 with 10 home runs and 82 RBIs. Outfielder Vince Coleman won the National League Rookie of the Year Award this year, batting .267 with 107 runs scored and 110 stolen bases. Shortstop Ozzie Smith and McGee both won Gold Gloves this year.
During the 1985 playoffs, the Cardinals used the slogan The Heat Is On, in reference to the song that was released earlier that year.
The World Series
The 1985 World Series began on October 19 and ended on October 27. The American League champion Kansas City Royals played the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals and won the series four games to three. The Series was popularly known as the “Show-Me Series” or the “I-70 Showdown Series”, as both cities are in Missouri and are connected by Interstate 70.
The Cardinals won the National League East division by three games over the New York Mets, then defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to two in the National League Championship Series. The Royals won the American League West division by one game over the California Angels, then defeated the Toronto Blue Jays four games to three in the American League Championship Series.
The Cardinals were seeking to win their NL-leading 10th World Series title, while the Royals were seeking to become the first AL expansion team to win the World Series. The Royals were completing one of the most successful decades by any expansion team, with six division titles and two pennants from 1976 to 1985.
This was the first World Series in which all games were played at night. This was also the first World Series featuring television commentator Tim McCarver, who called the games for ABC with Al Michaels and Jim Palmer. Howard Cosell was originally scheduled to be in the booth, but he was removed from his assignment just prior to Game 1 because of the controversy surrounding his book I Never Played the Game.
As of 2014, this World Series was the last in which the designated hitter was not used in an American League baseball park. It was also the last postseason appearance the Royals would make until 2014, in which they played the World Series against the San Francisco Giants and lost in seven games. They would return in 2015 against the New York Mets and win in five games.
Two missed calls affected the outcome of Game 6. In the fourth inning of the 0–0 game, the Royals’ Frank White was called out on an attempted steal of second base, but replays show he had beaten the tag. The following batter, Pat Sheridan, hit a single to right field.
Then in the ninth inning with St. Louis leading 1–0, Jorge Orta led off the bottom of the ninth with a ground ball to Cardinal first baseman Jack Clark, who flipped the ball to Cardinal pitcher Todd Worrell covering first. First base umpire Don Denkinger called Orta safe, but television replays showed that Worrell beat him to the base. Then, after Clark and catcher Darrell Porter let a foul pop drop between them, Steve Balboni made them pay for their mistake with a single to left two pitches later, moving Orta to second base. Jim Sundberg’s attempted sacrifice bunt, instead of moving up the runners, ended up getting Orta thrown out at third. With Hal McRae batting next, Cardinals’ catcher and 1982 World Series MVP Darrell Porter, who had played four seasons with the Royals, allowed a passed ball, and both Kansas City runners moved up a base. McRae was then intentionally walked to load the bases. Dane Iorg, who had played parts of eight seasons with the Cardinals before being sold to the Royals in the previous season, 1984, would then pinch hit for Dan Quisenberry, and his single to right field drove in two runs giving Kansas City a 2–1 win. The only out recorded by the Cardinals in the inning was Orta (at third instead of first). Years of debate between Cardinals’ and Royals’ fans have followed over what might have happened if Orta had been put out at first instead of third.
The following night, with Denkinger behind home plate, the Cardinals suffered an epic meltdown, as ace pitcher John Tudor got off to a terrible start, giving up five earned runs and four walks in only 2 1⁄3 innings. In addition, ABC television cameras caught Herzog screaming and belittling Denkinger from the Cardinals’ dugout throughout the contest. Pitcher Joaquín Andújar exploded twice over Denkinger’s calls at the plate during the fifth inning, finally being ejected with Herzog after a heated argument over Denkinger’s strike zone. Kansas City would take the series with an 11–0 shutout. Disgusted by their performances, Tudor punched an electrical fan with his pitching hand and Andújar vandalized a toilet in Royals Stadium’s clubhouse. In the offseason, Joaquín Andújar was traded to the Oakland Athletics.
Although the Royals lost the first two games at home, they overcame their poor start and became World Series champions for the first time thanks to MVP Bret Saberhagen’s victories in Games 3 and 7.
AL Kansas City Royals (4) vs. NL St. Louis Cardinals (3)
Game Date Score Location Time Attendance
1 October 19 St. Louis Cardinals – 3, Kansas City Royals – 1 Royals Stadium 2:48 41,650
2 October 20 St. Louis Cardinals – 4, Kansas City Royals – 2 Royals Stadium 2:44 41,656
3 October 22 Kansas City Royals – 6, St. Louis Cardinals – 1 Busch Stadium (II) 2:59 53,634
4 October 23 Kansas City Royals – 0, St. Louis Cardinals – 3 Busch Stadium (II) 2:19 53,634
5 October 24 Kansas City Royals – 6, St. Louis Cardinals – 1 Busch Stadium (II) 2:52 53,634
6 October 26 St. Louis Cardinals – 1, Kansas City Royals – 2 Royals Stadium 2:47 41,628
7 October 27 St. Louis Cardinals – 0, Kansas City Royals – 11 Royals Stadium 2:46 41,658
Saturday, October 19, 1985, at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 3 7 1
Kansas City 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 0
WP: John Tudor (1–0) LP: Danny Jackson (0–1) Sv: Todd Worrell (1)
When Lonnie Smith led off for the Royals, he became the first player in MLB history to be traded from a team (the St. Louis Cardinals) during a season and play against that team in the World Series the same season.
John Tudor scattered seven hits for the Cards and won with relief help from Todd Worrell. Jack Clark and late-season acquisition César Cedeño each had RBI doubles.
This was the first Saturday night game in World Series history. The Series began on a Saturday from 1969 through 1976, and again from 1985 through 2006.
Sunday, October 20, 1985, at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 4 6 0
Kansas City 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 0
WP: Ken Dayley (1–0) LP: Charlie Leibrandt (0–1) Sv: Jeff Lahti (1)
Charlie Leibrandt continued a history of tough luck in the postseason. The previous year, he had lost Game 3 of the 1984 ALCS, 1–0, to the Detroit Tigers when he pitched a three-hit complete game. He lost Game 4 in the 1985 ALCS in the ninth inning. And clinging to a two-run lead in the ninth, manager Dick Howser opted to not send in his relief ace Dan Quisenberry to close out the game. Leibrandt faltered, and only one out from tying the series at one apiece, Leibrandt yielded a bases-loaded double to Terry Pendleton that scored three runs and gave the Cardinals a 4–2 win at Royals Stadium. The Cardinals’ four run ninth would be the only inning in the series in which St. Louis scored more than one run.
Tuesday, October 22, 1985, at Busch Stadium (II) in St. Louis, Missouri
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City 0 0 0 2 2 0 2 0 0 6 11 0
St. Louis 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 6 0
WP: Bret Saberhagen (1–0) LP: Joaquín Andújar (0–1)
KC: Frank White (1)
The Royals got back into the series by riding ace Bret Saberhagen to a 6–1 victory against twenty-game winner Joaquín Andújar. Saberhagen flashed messages on the television screen to his pregnant wife who was due to give birth any day. She eventually gave birth on October 26 (in Game 6).
Royals second baseman Frank White made history by becoming the first second baseman in the history of the World Series to hit in the clean-up spot in the batting order. White came through with a home run off of Andujar.
Wednesday, October 23, 1985, at Busch Stadium (II) in St. Louis, Missouri
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1
St. Louis 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 X 3 6 0
WP: John Tudor (2–0) LP: Bud Black (0–1)
STL: Tito Landrum (1), Willie McGee (1)
John Tudor’s complete game shutout put the Cardinals on the verge of winning their second World Series in four years. Tito Landrum, only playing due to a tarp injury to Vince Coleman, continued to make his case for series MVP with a home run.
Thursday, October 24, 1985, at Busch Stadium (II) in St. Louis, Missouri
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 11 2
St. Louis 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 1
WP: Danny Jackson (1–1) LP: Bob Forsch (0–1)
Entering this game, the Royals were 3–0 in must-win games in playoff elimination games. They improved their record to 4–0 with a decisive victory over the Cardinals, again by the score of 6–1. The Royals broke the game open in the second when light hitting Buddy Biancalana doubled to score Jim Sundberg. After Lonnie Smith walked, Willie Wilson tripled home both runs to make it 4-1. Danny Jackson was the winning pitcher, following the same formula and pitching rotation as the Royals did in the ALCS where Jackson also won Game 5.
Saturday, October 26, 1985, at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 5 0
Kansas City 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 10 0
WP: Dan Quisenberry (1–0) LP: Todd Worrell (0–1)
A pitcher’s duel unfolded between Danny Cox and Charlie Leibrandt, the tough-luck loser in Game 2. The game was marked by controversy. In the fourth inning of the scoreless game, the Royals’ Frank White appeared to have stolen second base, but was ruled out in a questionable call. The batter, Pat Sheridan, hit a single to right field two pitches later. This would have likely given the Royals a 1–0 lead had White been called safe. Instead, Leibrandt and Cox traded scoreless innings until the eighth, when Brian Harper singled home Terry Pendleton to give the Cardinals the 1–0 lead after 7 1⁄2.
Whitey Herzog called on rookie reliever Todd Worrell to pitch the ninth. The first batter, Jorge Orta, sent a chopping bouncer to the right of Jack Clark. He tossed to Worrell, who tagged the bag ahead of Orta, but Clark’s toss was behind Worrell and it allowed the running Orta to start to come between umpire Don Denkinger and his view of the lunging Worrell’s glove. Denkinger called Orta safe. Replays indicated that Orta should have been called out, and an argument ensued on the field. The Cardinals argued briefly but as crew chief and believing he had made the correct call, Denkinger would not reverse it. Orta remained at first. In his book “You’re Missing A Great Game”, Herzog wrote that he later wished he had asked Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, who was in attendance, to overrule the call and declare Orta out. If Ueberroth had refused to do so, Herzog would have pulled his team from the field and forfeited the game.
Instead of one out and no one on, the Royals now had no outs and a runner on first for batter Steve Balboni. Balboni lifted a difficult pop-up in foul territory along the edge of the first base dugout. Jack Clark, who had only recently made the transition from right field to first base that season, lost track of the ball as he looked to find the dugout and the ball dropped on the top step of the dugout. Balboni then singled two pitches later, putting runners at first and second with nobody out. Onix Concepción was sent in as a pinch-runner for Balboni. Catcher Jim Sundberg attempted to sacrifice the runners over, but he failed. With two strikes he bunted anyway and it was sent back to the pitcher and was fielded by Worrell who threw to third for the forceout of Orta. This was the out the Cardinals would have had earlier in the inning, and it would turn out to be the only out recorded. Porter then allowed a passed ball allowing the runners to advance one base.
With first base now open and two runners in scoring position, Herzog then chose to walk Royals pinch-hitter Hal McRae to set up a potential double-play. With the bases loaded and one out, pinch-hitter Dane Iorg blooped a single to right field. Pinch runner Onix Concepcion scored the tying run and Sundberg approached the plate with the winning run. Andy Van Slyke’s throw was on the money, but Porter was unable to tag Sundberg before he slid home safely with the game-winning run.
The Royals celebrated the rally, and mobbed home plate. The Cardinals went to their dressing rooms, only to find champagne waiting for them and plastic over their lockers in anticipation for the celebration. Denkinger stated that he still believed he had made the right call until he later met with Commissioner Peter Ueberroth after the game and had the opportunity to see the replay himself. He would later claim that he was waiting to hear the ball land in Worrell’s glove while watching the bag for Orta’s foot. Due to the crowd noise in Royals Stadium, he ruled Orta safe because he never heard Worrell catch the ball.Denkinger was also scheduled to be the home plate umpire in Game 7.
Sunday, October 27, 1985, at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
Kansas City 0 2 3 0 6 0 0 0 X 11 14 0
WP: Bret Saberhagen (2–0) LP: John Tudor (2–1)
KC: Darryl Motley (1)
One night after becoming a father, Bret Saberhagen tossed a five-hitter and the Royals became the only team to ever rally from a three games to one deficit twice in the same postseason to win the World Series. They also were the first team to lose the first two games at home and rally to win the Series. Saberhagen got all the offense he needed when Darryl Motley homered to left off John Tudor in the second inning. Tudor was replaced with Bill Campbell trailing 3–0 in the third.
The Royals blew the game open in the bottom of the fifth. A succession of five Cardinal pitchers allowed six Royals runs. Campbell gave up a single to Sundberg and was immediately replaced by Jeff Lahti, who allowed four runs before being replaced by Ricky Horton. However, after Horton gave up a single to Brett, Herzog immediately replaced him with the volatile Joaquín Andújar, normally a starter but pressed into relief. Andújar allowed an RBI single to Frank White to increase the Royals lead to 10–0 before the Cardinals came completely unglued. With Sundberg at the plate, Andújar twice charged home plate umpire Denkinger to disagree with his strike zone. First, Denkinger called an Andújar pitch a ball. Herzog, who had been berating Denkinger for most of the game, rushed from the dugout to defend Andújar, and was ejected—reportedly after saying to Denkinger, “We wouldn’t even be here if you hadn’t missed the f***ing call last night!” According to Denkinger, he replied “Well if you guys weren’t hitting .120 in this World Series, we wouldn’t be here.” The next pitch was also called a ball, and Denkinger ejected Andújar, who again lost his cool and charged at Denkinger. It took three teammates to restrain him and get him off the field. Replays showed both pitches were clearly inside and Al Michaels and Jim Palmer both acknowledged the fact. Andújar was suspended for the first ten games of the 1986 season for his outburst. Although it has been rumored that Herzog sent in Andújar specifically to bait Denkinger, Herzog himself has said several times Andújar was the only pitcher who still had anything left in his arm.
The Royals became the first team ever to win the World Series after dropping Games 1 and 2 at home. Next year the New York Mets accomplished the same feat by defeating the Boston Red Sox in seven games. Ten years later, the New York Yankees lost their first two games at home against the defending 1995 World Series champion Atlanta Braves and won the next four to win the 1996 World Series. The Royals also were the fifth and (to date) the last team to come back from a three games to one deficit to win a best-of-seven World Series, the others being the 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1958 New York Yankees, 1968 Detroit Tigers and 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. The ’85 Royals had previously come back from a three games to one deficit to win the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. The six elimination games won by the Royals represent a Major League record for a single postseason, a record which would later be equalled by the 2012 San Francisco Giants.
The Cardinals’ .185 batting average was the lowest for a seven-game World Series until the New York Yankees hit .183 in the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Cardinals also scored only thirteen total runs—an all-time low for a seven-game series—scoring only once in the final 26 innings of the series. If they had held on for the win in Game 6, they still would have been outscored in the series 15–13.
1985 World Series (4–3): Kansas City Royals (A.L.) over St. Louis Cardinals (N.L.)
Winning player’s share: $76,342 Losing player’s share: $54,922
November 9, 1984: Dave Von Ohlen was released by the Cardinals.
December 12, 1984: George Hendrick and Steve Barnard (minors) were traded by the Cardinals to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Brian Harper and John Tudor.
January 3, 1985: Alex Cole was drafted by the Cardinals in the 2nd round of the 1985 amateur draft. Player signed May 6, 1985.
January 23, 1985: Mike LaValliere was signed as a free agent by the Cardinals.
February 1, 1985: Dave LaPoint, David Green, José Uribe and Gary Rajsich were traded by the Cardinals to the San Francisco Giants for Jack Clark
April 21, 1985: Matt Keough was signed as a free agent by the Cardinals.
June 3, 1985: Steve Peters was drafted by the Cardinals in the 5th round of the 1985 Major League Baseball Draft.
July 22, 1985: Gary Rajsich was purchased by the Cardinals from the San Francisco Giants.
August 29, 1985: Mark Jackson (minors) was traded by the Cardinals to the Cincinnati Reds for César Cedeño