George Steinbrenner’s Revolving Door Sent a Champion to the Royals

Manager Dick Howser, spurned by Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ owner, led the Royals to their 1985 World Series title.

Comments: 22

  1. How appropriate that Dave Anderson tells us the story of a person with an abundance of class, because the same can be said of him, dating all the way back to when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn.

    Speaking as only one lifelong Times reader, but surely on behalf of countless others, there are two words that must be directed toward Mr. Anderson anytime he writes one of his uniquely insightful columns: Thank you.

  2. As per dotconnector-Amen.

  3. So the Yankees let Howser go, who went on to win a World Series in KC based, in part, on one of the worst calls in MLB umpiring history. The Royals didn't go back to the play-offs until this year.

    The Yankees went on to win five World Series and a few AL penants based on the the ground work laid by Gene Michael, Howser's managerial successor.

    So, what's your point Mr. Anderson? Apart from trashing Mr. Steinbrenner once again for old time's sake? Problem is, Mr. Steinbrenner is gone and cannot defend himself.

    Time to let it go sir.

  4. He GOT to the WS, based, in NO part, by The Call. After that, let the chips fall where they may. And they did.

  5. So, you are suggesting, Tom, that, once in the World Series, bad calls are tolerated more than in the regular season? I think it is the opposite. Otherwise, MLB wouldn't have 6 umpires on the field in October instead of 4.

  6. Dick Howser was a great Royals manager. It's sad to see his reputation continue to be sullied by a missed call that did not determine the outcome of either game six or the 1985 World Series.

    Denkinger's call was obviously wrong. But Orta didn't score; he was called out at third base on a force play two batters later. Arguably, two Cardinal ninth inning misplays had a more significant impact on the Royals' win. After Orta reached first, Cardinals' first baseman Jack Clark misplayed a foul ball that kept Steve Balboni's at bat alive. Then Balboni singled. The next batter, catcher Jim Sundberg, attempted to bunt bunt but rather than advancing the runners Orta was forced out at third and Denkinger's mistake was voided. When Hal McRae came up to bat next, Card catcher Darrell Porter allowed a passed ball and runners advanced. The Cards intentionally walked McRae and pinch hitter Dane Iorg scored the two base runners with a single into right field.

    The next day, the Royals won game seven in a 11-0 rout.

    Howser was a great manager who won a World Series and tragically died too young. Don't let the Denkinger myth cloud the truth.

  7. What? That Orta recorded an out at third rather than first somehow translates to "no harm no foul" is just silly. You can't reconstruct a game in that fashion. That's the beauty of baseball.

    The Cardinals were deprived of having one out and no one on. Instead, they had one out, and a man on first and second. The subsequent miscues by Clark and Porter could have been influenced by the egregious call by Denkinger. Your statement that Orta's out at third "voided" the umpire's mistake is ludicrous.

  8. If we play that game, we can't forget the Royals were deprived of having zero out and man on second earlier in the game when Frank White stole second and was incorrectly called out. Next batter hit a single that may have scored White. So using that logic, the Royals were "deprived" of having a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Just like the Orta call later, those are the breaks of the game. The Cardinals hit .120 through Game 6; .185 for the Series. Nobody lost that Series but the Cards. Can't blame it on the umps.

  9. They are the breaks of the game. I'm not the one trying to reconstruct things. You and BD are.

  10. As Phil Mushnick pointed out, in his New York Post column earlier this week -

    The Kansas City Royals have not lost a playoff game in twenty-nine years...

  11. I had a chance to meet Dick Howser during the Royals' World Series championship year of 1985. He was a class act and died of brain cancer at a young age. I thank the Yankees and George Steinbrenner for firing Dick Howser so that the Royals could make him the manager of the KC Royals! Go Royals in the upcoming 2014 World Series! If I have to wait another 29 years to see them again in the World Series, I will be approaching 90 years of age!

  12. So glad you are still writing Mr. Anderson. I remember Howser as Yankee skipper and I remember the rivalry. It wouldn't last long, but it mattered.

  13. ... and let's not forget the latest in the Steinbrenner exiles, albeit one dropkicked by the heirs-transparent. He will be in the Royal dugout Tuesday night - Dave Eiland, great guy thrown under the bus after the 2010 loss to the Texas Rangers in the playoffs.

  14. Sorry Yankees its not about you.

  15. It's great to read another column of yours Mr. Anderson. I greatly miss those "olden" days when you were a regular columnist. Dick Howser was a class act and was treated terribly by George Steinbrenner, as were so many other Yankee managers/players/employees. Steinbrenner forced Yankee employees to work at the Stadium on Christmas Day simply because he was "the Boss" and ran the organization through fear and mercurial behavior.

    I grew up six blocks from the "old" Stadium and played Little League at Macombs Dam Park, site of the new Stadium. I had Yankee blue in my blood and still root for them. But no one should attribute the Yankees' success from 1976-1981 and 1996-2004 to Steinbrenner. The nucleus of those teams was built when Steinbrenner was suspended from baseball and couldn't interfere, first with Gabe Paul then with Gene Michael. Let's not forget all the Billy Martin nonsense, and his hiring of Joe Torre only to backtrack and try to get Showalter back before the 1996 season. Let's not forget the mostly abysmal 1982-1993 period when Steinbrenner called the shots and nearly destroyed the team.

    Dick Howser was a mensch, a determined upright person. Thanks Mr. Anderson for the great memories.

  16. Fans have such short memories when it comes to George. He was maddening in the 80s. Remember the "Steinbrenner sucks" chants at the Stadium? Or the fact that free agents had little to no interest in coming to the Bronx (hello Greg Maddox)? I was thrilled when Steinbrenner was suspended.
    Sure George was willing to spend to make the team better unlike a lot of other fatcat owners and he placed a premium on excellence. But his football mentality (he'd been a college coach) blinded him to the subtleties of baseball and he wasn't smart enough to trust his baseball people.
    Howser was a good man and I remember yankee fans taking a quiet joy in his team winning the WS.

  17. Time can change our memories a bit but Howser had a great Yankees team that he sullied with questionable calls all '85 and the 3 and out in the playoffs was rightly his end. That may have been the only smart managerial move Steinbrenner ever made as his revolving leadership was anything but leadership. Leadership by developing trust should certainly be more prevalent and Bochy and Sabean prove that now (with lesser talent) and yet Howser's moves often deserved to be second guessed.

    Howser was a great man and his calm demeanor was great in KC (especially following Herzog) and let's face it Brett and Saberhagen were well deserving of their crown given the '76-'78 thrashing that Whitey Herzog's team was given by the Yankees (losing 3 games to 2,2, and 1 in those years). I was glad for Brett as he was a great player but their 85 championship was more due to Saberhagen and Brett's leadership than Howser. Howser fortunately just got out of the way the right amount - in New York he couldn't.

  18. Welcome back Mr. Anderson. I agree that GMS's managerial episodes were ridiculous, but if a team that wins 103 games is swept in a playoff, it raises serious issues that may be going on in Baltimore right now. I think we were all happy to see the Royals win in 1985. Glad Geo Brett got a ring. I think Richard of San Jose owes us at least a couple of examples of specific bad calls by Howser in '85?

  19. People focus on the 9th inning blown call and like to forget that there was a blown call in FAVOR of the Cardinals earlier in the game (when the Royals Frank White stole second and was incorrectly called out). The following batter, Pat Sheridan, had a single that may have scored White. And the Cards were only hitting .120 through the first 6 games. So get over it, the Cards lost it; Denkinger didn't steal it from them. It's like Red Sox fans griping about Buckner and Game 6 in '86. Just like the Cards, they still had the chance to win Game 7 and folded. Those are the breaks of the game.

  20. Class=Howser. Crass=Steinbrenner.
    The latter did more damage to baseball than any other past and future owner.
    so sad about Mr. Howser passing away so shortly after his success. Thankfully he experienced winning the series and respect in KC.

  21. Easily the most overlooked aspect of the 1985 MLB postseason is Danny Jackson saving the Royals from elimination not just once but twice! This article only mentions his 6-1 Game 5 victory on the road in the World Series. He did almost exactly the same thing in the previous round against the Blue Jays. The difference was that it was a 2-0 win at home.

    As for Dick Howser, he was the perfect example of a man who kept his head while others were losing theirs. He obviously departed the world much too soon.

  22. Huh. Both Dick Howser and Dan Quisenberry died of brain tumors.