KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The following home runs are not necessarily the “greatest” ones in Royals history, at least not in terms of significance. But they are, in my view, the most memorable. As the Royals position themselves for a potential playoff push that undoubtedly will require some timely dingers, let’s relive a few home runs that always will have a spot in the hearts of Royals fans.
5. Bo Jackson July 11, 1989 All-Star Game
Jackson’s mammoth leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning in Anaheim undeniably added to the legend of Bo. The home run — a laser shot that seemed to still be rising when it landed far beyond the center-field fence, about 450 feet from home plate — stunned everyone. Some will argue that homer signified the last time the Royals had any national relevance. Vin Scully’s call of Bo’s homer: “Bo Jackson says hello!”
4. Frank White Oct. 22, 1985 Game 3 of the 1985 World Series
The Royals were clinging to a 2-0 lead when White belted a two-run homer in the fifth inning off Joaquin Andujar, helping the Royals cruise to a 6-1 victory and their first win of the Series. The homer and the win gave the Royals a chance to push the Series back to Kansas City.
3. Darryl Motley Oct. 27, 1985 Game 7 of the 1985 World Series
Motley’s second-inning, two-run homer off John Tudor gave the Royals a 2-0 lead and started a Game 7 rout of St. Louis. Royals fans will recall that Motley blasted an apparent home run on the previous pitch — the ball seemed to sail over the top of the foul pole in left field but was called foul. And Motley broke his bat on that foul ball. He came back to the plate with a new bat and homered.
2. George Brett July 24, 1983 The Pine Tar Game
Granted, in the big picture, this home run was rather meaningless. That 1983 season was a disaster for the Royals, who won just 79 games after winning 90 the year before. And the drug scandal involving Vida Blue, Jerry Martin, Willie Wilson and Willie Aikens consumed the headlines late in the season. But before all that, Brett was part of one of the most famous incidents and arguments of all time. If you don’t think it’s memorable, consider we’re still observing its anniversaries — like the 30th anniversary last week.
1. George Brett Oct. 10, 1980 Game 3 of the 1980 AL Championship Series
This is the no-doubter in terms of most memorable and the greatest home run in club history. Brett’s seventh-inning, three-run bomb off Goose Gossage at Yankee Stadium gave the Royals a 4-2 lead and ultimately a win and their first American League pennant. Replays of the blast still give anyone but a Yankees fan goose bumps. The homer soared through the New York night and into the third deck, completely silencing the Yankee Stadium crowd. The homer also signified the end of the Yankees’ dominance over the Royals. This home run also is arguably the greatest single moment in Kansas City sports history.
Other memorable homers in the running
* Brett’s three-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS that tied the score 6-6 at Yankee Stadium. Most people remember Chris Chambliss’ more famous homer in the bottom of the ninth.
* Brett’s three-homer day against Catfish Hunter in Game 3 of the 1978 ALCS.
* Willie Aikens’ pair of two-homer games in the 1980 World Series.
* Brett’s inside-the-park homer vs. California on Oct. 2, 1985, that steered a 4-0 win and started a four-game winning streak that helped the Royals overcome a one-game deficit and win the AL West.
* Mendy Lopez’s game-tying homer or Carlos Beltran’s game-winning homer on Opening Day of 2004 as the Royals forged a six-run rally in the ninth to beat the White Sox, 9-7.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.