Reporter Looks Back at Denkinger’s Bad Call in ‘85

By Glen SparksRoyalsFree

Jorge Orta was safe at first base, we all know that. Don Denkinger blew the call, no one disputes that.

But, Doug Miller wrote Monday, Game 6 of the 1985 World Series between the Cardinals and Royals unraveled for many reasons and not just because of that famous controversial play at first.

Here is a refresher on the play:  The Cardinals were up 3-2 in the Series, ahead 1-0 in the game. Kansas City was batting in the bottom of the ninth inning at Royals Stadium. St. Louis was three outs from a championship.

Orta hit a bouncing ball that Cardinals’ first baseman Jack Clark fielded and flipped to relief pitcher Todd Worrell. Denkinger, almost on top of first base, emphatically ruled that Orta was safe. Orta tumbled past the bag, and the argument began.

You can read about the play from several different perspectives. Miller spoke to Denkinger, Cardinals’ second baseman Tommy Herr and Royals’ utility man Jamie Quirk. The article also includes several quotes from the national broadcast, which featured Al Michaels and Jim Palmer.

Among the points:

  • Some people still believe Orta came to the plate with two out. Actually, he led off the inning.
  • Steve Balboni, batting after Orta, hit a foul ball that Clark failed to catch. “Bye-bye” knocked a single later in the at-bat.
  • Worrell threw a pitch to Hal McRae that got by catcher Darrell Porter for a passed ball. Cardinal manager Whitey Herzog ended up intentionally walking McRae to load the bases and set up a double play.

Dane Iorg knocked a bloop single to help the Royals win Game 6 by a score of 2-1. Kansas City, backed by strong pitching from Bret Saberhagen, won 11-0 in Game 7 to take the Series.

Herr says a play like the one at first base in Game 6 “blows the lid off your emotional stability.” Quirk makes the point that, “Couldn’t the Cardinals have gotten out of that inning with a runner on and nobody out? Does a bad call mean you have to lose 11-0 in the next game?”

The detailed article also includes video. It’s worth a click.


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