by Kevin Burton
You know this is a simulated World Series because fans jam-pack the stadiums. Imagine the thrill of a city’s first trip to the World Series.
The Kansas City A’s had come tantalizingly close, finishing sixth in 1955 and seventh three other times before the team left for Oakland after the 1967 season. But this was the real thing. The real simulated thing.
One very good omen for KC came when throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, Kansas City Chiefs football coach Hank Stram matriculated the ball over the plate.
Third-string catcher Buck Martinez caught the ceremonial pitch, telling reporters later that it was the only way he could get on the field.
“I mean, we just played thirteen innings in
Cincinnati,” he said. “Maybe if we played 113 innings…”
Another good omen came in the bottom of the first when the Royals got a gift run. After a two-out double by George Brett, a throwing error by Johnny Bench extended the inning for John Mayberry who delivered a run-scoring single.
Cincinnati tied the score in the second. After singles by Tony Perez and Bench, Bernie Carbo who started as the DH, singled to score Perez.
The game stayed tied until the fourth When George Foster led off with a single and Perez lifted a 3-2 pitch over the wall in deep left center field to give the reds a 3-1 lead.
After two more singles, just when they needed it most, the Royals turned a Ray Knight grounder into a double play then retired Concepcion to end the inning.
Starter Paul Splittorff had given up seven hits in four innings but the Royals trailed by just two.
Meanwhile Reds starter Don Gullett found his groove. He had retired eight straight batters when Mayberry singled in the fourth. But then Al Cowens hit into a double play to erase him.
The Reds reached Splittorff again in the fifth with singles by Pete Rose and Ken Griffey. Splittorff retired left-handed hitting Joe Morgan, then Marty Pattin was summoned from the bullpen to pitch to the right-handed heart of the Reds order.
Pattin retired Foster, but then Perez hit a moon shot three-run homer longer than the first one. That broke open the game at 6-1.
The Reds did more damage in the seventh on a double by Joe Morgan and an RBI single by Foster. That made it 7-1. Pattin then held Perez to a mere single and retired Bench to end the latest threat.
Gullet, not known to pitch deep into games, mowed down KC into the seventh when he was lifted for Clay Carroll. Gullett gave up just one tainted run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings.
The Royals were delighted to see Gullet go and expressed this glee with an immediate pinch-hit homer by Pete LaCock. Left-handed batting Darrell Porter also pinch hit in the inning but was retired.
Carroll gave up hits to pinch-hitter Lou Piniella and to Amos Otis in the eighth. That brought up Brett with two outs. Instead of going to a left-hander, the Reds allowed Carroll to pitch to Brett.
Brett made them pay with a sharp single, to make the score 7-3. Hal McRae then singled to make the score 7-4.
The Reds finally put in Tom Hall who got Mayberry to end the threat.
LaCock singled to lead off the Royals ninth. Hall retired Darrell Porter for the first out. With three right-hander batters and a switch hitter due up next, the Reds brought in Pedro Borbon.
Kansas City had used its most dangerous pinch hitters earlier and had just Martinez and Cookie Rojas left on the bench. Borbon retired light hitting Frank White and Freddy Patek to end the game and give Cincinnati a 2-1 series lead.
Here’s Tony Perez, talking with Joe Nuxhall on the star of the game show on the Reds radio network, “I just see the ball hit the ball. I feel good today. Those guys get on base for me, we all doing our part to win the game.”
For game four, both teams opted to go back to their game one starters, Tom Seaver for Cincinnati, Dennis Leonard for KC.