The Philadelphia Phillies 91-71 managed by Dallas Green met the Kansas City Royals 97-65 led by Jim Frey in a battle between two teams who had not been in the World Series since 1950 for the Phillies and never before for the expansion Royals.
They featured two of best players in the game in Mike Schmidt a native of Dayton, Ohio, 48HR/121RBI/104RS who had won his second NL MVP Award and the Royals’ George Brett 24HR/118RBI/.390 BA who won the AL MVP Award and had the highest batting average since Ted Williams’ .406 in 1941.
The Royals had Willie Aikens 20HR/98RBI and Willie Wilson 23HR/79SB/230H/.326 BA and their pitching staff was anchored by Dennis Leonard 20-11, Larry Gura 18-10, Paul Splittorff 14-11, Rich Gale 13-9 and in the bullpen had sidearmer Dan Quisenberry with 33 saves.
The Phillies had Pete Rose .282BA, Greg Luzinski 19 HR, and reserve outfielder Lonnie Smith .339BA. Their pitching staff had Steve Carlton 24-9/2.34 ERA who had garnered his third NL Cy Young Award and whose slider was one of the most difficult pitches to hit in the game and who had appeared in the 1967 and 68 World Series for the Cardinals.
They also had Dick Ruthven 17-10, Bob Walk 11-7 and Tug McGraw with 20 saves in the bullpen.
The series opened in Philadelphia with Bob Walk opposing Dennis Leonard. The Royals got out to a 4-0 lead in the top of third inning but the Phillies got to Leonard for five runs in the bottom of the inning helped with a three run home runs by Bake McBride.
Despite home runs by Amos Otis and Willie Aikens the Phillies behind Walk and Tug McGraw held on for a 7-6 win.
Game two was still at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia and again the Royals got out to an early lead as they scored three runs in the top of the seventh to go up on Carlton4-2. In the bottom of the eighth Philadelphia responded with four runs off of usually reliable closer Dan Quisenberyhighlighted by an RBI double by Mike Schmidt to drive in what would prove to be the winning run. Ron Reed came on for the final inning and the Philliesgo up 2-0 with a 6-4 victory.
Kansas City had had leads in both ofthe first two games but their bullpen could not hold them-not a good formula for winning a World Series.
Game three switched to Royals Stadium in Kansas City which proved to be the closest game of the series. With solo home runs by Brett, Schmidt and Willie Aikens and RBI’s by Pete Rose and former Red Hal McRae, the score was tied 3-3 after nine innings with the closers McGraw and Quisenberry in to pitch the tenth.
Quisenberry set down the Phillies without a run but Tugger had trouble in the bottom of the inning when U L Washington singled to lead off the inning and McGraw walked Willie Wilson the Royals had two runners on with no outs.
But they got a break when Washington was caught stealing and McGraw struck out Frank White. The Phillies had two outs and a runner on first with George Brett at the plate.
But Wilson alertly stole second base to get into scoring position, Brett was intentionally walked and Willie Aikens singled in Wilson for the winning run and the Royals get their first World Series victory.
Riding the momentum from the extra inning win the Royals scored four runs in the first inning of game four with the big hits being a George Brett triple and a Willie Aikens home run. Philadelphia starter Larry Christenson lasted only one third of an inning.
Aikens added another homerun in the second inning and Dennis Leonard and Quisenberry held the Phillies to three runs and Kansas City ties the series at two games each with a 5-3 win.
Game five was a key game and another close one. Philadelphia took a 2-0 lead when Mike Schmidt homered off of Larry Gura with one on in the fourth but the Royals went ahead 3-2 in the sixth inning with the help of an Amos Otis home run.
Both closers Quisenberry and McGraw entered the game in the seventh inning which is unusual as three innings is a long time for a closer to pitch. Each pitched scoreless baseball until the top of the ninth when Del Unser doubled in Mike Schmidt to tie the score and Manny Trillo singled in Unser for what proved to be the winning run. Three innings proved to be too long for Quisenberry.
Tug McGraw struggled in the bottom of the inning to hold the lead, walking three batters and with the bases loaded and two outs struck out Jose Cardenal to preserve the 4-3 win for Philadelphia.
The Royals were on the verge of elimination and they had to face Steve Carlton in game six who held them scoreless for the first seven innings but he let the first two hitters get on in the top of the eighth and Dallas Green had to go to McGraw who tired after his three innings in the game four, came in to try and close out Kansas City.
He allowed a single in the inning but got the side out and the teams went to the bottom of the ninth inning with score 4-1 Phillies.
Tug McGraw got the first out but then gave up a walk and two singles and the Royals had the bases loaded with only one out. But Tugger got Frank White to pop out in foul territory and he struck out Willie Wilson to end the game and win the series for the Phillies-their first ever World Series title.
Mike Schmidt got the series MVP but you would have to think Tug McGraw was a close second in the voting. The Phillies would be back in the Fall Classic in 1983 and the Royals in 1985.