Royals and Rangers make for strange occurrences


After last night’s dismal failure, I was excited to get to the ballpark today for the swing game of the three-game series between the Royals and Rangers. Unfortunately, 30 minutes before the scheduled first pitch, the announcer in the press box let us know there would be a rain delay prior to the game’s first pitch.

So now, after the scheduled start time, I look at the tarp on the field and remember some games from the past between the two teams. Ironically, three of the stories I tell the most often about memorable ballpark events involve the Royals vs. the Rangers.

The first, of course, was the first-ever game in Royals Stadium. April 10, 1973, it was a cold, blustery night, but nobody cared because at long last the Royals were in their new stadium. It was a night for the ages because after years in an ugly, below-average ballpark, the Kansas Citians were now in a bright shiny ballyard that was the envy of virtually every other fanbase in the game. Despite an opening-pitch temperature of 39 degrees, Paul Splittorff pitched a complete game, one run on five hit win. The Royals put up 12 runs, including the first-ever home run in the stadium by first baseman John Mayberry. That first night rivals the playoff wins and World Series contests as one if the greatest moments in Royals history.

My second fond unforgettable memory came four years later when a buddy and I attended a night game in the spring of 1976. The records show the game started with a temp of 65 degrees and we bravely sat through the exciting action. We both took great pride in we always showed up to games early and never left until it was over. That ideal got tested that night as the temperatures continued to sink.

As could be expected in an 8-7 game, it took a while to play, officially just short of four hours. We made it as long as we could, but the Royals had a big lead so we decided we could safely leave in the middle of the eighth inning. We left and drove to my friend’s house near Merriam, Kansas. The Rangers had a big top of the ninth inning, so they not only made it close, but really drug the game on. We had time to drive all of the way home and heard the final out as we were pulling into his driveway. I don’t remember a lot about the game, other than the cold.

Temperatures seem to play a key role in many of my memories of the two teams. The final one I love to talk about came in Arlington sometime in the early 80s. I went down to visit friends and we had tickets to games on a Friday and Saturday night, I believe in mid-June. The first night, the temperature at gametime was 101 degrees. I was well prepared for the weather and dressed in a light t-shirt and shorts. Because of weather patterns I don’t pretend to understand, the wind shifted and the temperatures dropped … rapidly. By the sixth inning, it had dropped about 40 degrees and I was miserably cold.

The next night, the temperature was again 101 at gametime, but I wasn’t going to be fooled again. I wore jeans. I wore a heavier shirt and took a jacket with me. I was ready. However, this night the wind never shifted and when the final out was recorded the temperature had cooled down all of three degrees to 98.

Although I was not in attendance, I read the longest regular season game in Royals history came against the Rangers, so there must be something about these two squaring off that brings out strange occurrences. They have now announced the game will get started today, so it will soon be time to see if there is anything to remember about this summer in May or if its just another day at the old ballyard.