GOTW: 8.8.1974

Thursday August 8, 1974
Royals Stadium
Kansas City, MO

Minnesota Twins (53-60) @ Kansas City Royals (57-53)

One of the things that I love about baseball is that it is so tied in with American history. Sometimes the historical event happens on the field (Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, etc.); and sometimes the game itself serves as the background to history. A great example of the latter occurred on August 8, 1974. The Twins were in Kansas City set to play the final game of a four-game series against the Royals.

The second place Royals had some distance between themselves and the first place A’s, and they needed to get some wins in order to keep the distance manageable. Lucky for them the Twins had obliged so far in the series, dropping the first three games, including both ends of a double header the day before. 12,749 Kansas City fans came to see the fourth and final game of the series on a Thursday night.

   Minnesota Twins               Kansas City Royals                   
1. R Carew              2B    1. F Patek              SS
2. S Braun              LF    2. C Rojas              2B
3. L Hisle              CF    3. A Otis               CF
4. T Oliva              DH    4. H McRae              LF
5. B Darwin             RF    5. O Cepeda             DH
6. E Soderholm          3B    6. T Solaita            1B
7. J Holt               1B    7. V Pinson             RF
8. D Thompson           SS    8. G Brett              3B
9. G Borgmann           C     9. F Healy              C  

   J Decker             P        A Fitzmorris         P

The Twins started the scoring in the top of the second when Bobby Darwin hit a solo home run, his 19th of the season, off of Royals starter Al Fitzmorris. The home team tied the score with back-to-back doubles by Freddie Patek and Cookie Rojas in the bottom of the fourth, the first hits of the game off of Joe Decker.

It was probably around this time that the game stopped. It was on this date that the Watergate scandal finally came to a head. President Nixon went on national television to resign from the office of the Presidency. In Kansas City, the game was between innings and the speech was shown live on the scoreboard as players and fans alike looked on. The next inning was delayed as the speech went on, and players finally took their positions after Nixon’s speech had ended.

Back to the game; both starting pitchers were going through the respective lineups quite easily. The game remained tied 1-1 heading into the home half of the eighth inning. Amos Otis singled off of new pitcher Bill Campbell and advanced to scoring position on an error. With two outs Orlando Cepeda singled Otis home, giving the Royals a 2-1 lead.

With only one out between them and their fourth straight loss, the Twins sent Harmon Killebrew in as a pinch hitter with a man on second. The future Hall of Famer came through with a double to deep left field, scoring Jerry Terrell and sending the game into extra innings.

Doug Bird and Bill Campbell exchanged scoreless innings for a while in the extra frames, until finally the Twins broke the tie in the 14th inning against reliever Marty Pattin. Rod Carew started the inning with a single, and he was pushed to third when Larry Hisle did the same. Tony Oliva’s sacrifice fly scored Carew, and held up to be the deciding run as the Twins escaped with a win in the final game of the series.

Stars of the Game
1. Bill Campbell MIN W, 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R
2. Al Fitzmorris KC 8.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R
3. Joe Decker MIN 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R

The next day Gerald Ford was sworn in at noon, and the Royals faced a 7.5 game deficit in the AL West. That would only grow as the season went on, as Kansas City finished the final two months with a 20-32 record and dropped to fourth place, behind the Minnesota Twins who ultimately finished in the same stretch with a 28-20 record to finish 82-80, 3rd in the AL West.

Box

Born August 8, 1913
Cecil Travis
Travis may be one of the most underrated players in franchise history. Travis was just hitting his stride in 1941, when he posted his best season at the age of 27. That year he finished second in AL batting to Ted Williams, and posted a 150 OPS+. The following year, it was off to the Army for Travis, who saw combat in the Battle of the Bulge. When he returned to Washington in 1945, his prime years had all passed and he had timing problems with his swing. Travis never regained his timing, and ultimately retired in 1947.

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