The 1985 MLB season was one of the best ever. Three of major league baseball’s four divisions had races that came down the final week and all three were settled with head-to-head series in an era where there was no wild-card cushion. And the postseason? The playoffs saw both LCS winners lose the first two games and then roar back. The World Series that featured a big geographic rivalry went the full seven games, replete with game-winning hits, disputed calls and a nationally televised meltdown.
TheSportsNotebook.com has a series of articles that cover the following…
*The Kansas City Royals saw a decade of consistent postseason experience finally translate into a World Series title. They won it all, but it was never easy—comebacks in the AL West race, the ALCS and the World Series were all necessary.
*Whitey Herzog’s St. Louis Cardinals were the October foil for the Royals in the all-Missouri I-70 Series. The Cardinals were the best team in baseball during the regular season, winning 101 games and surviving an excellent division race with the New York Mets.
*The Toronto Blue Jays had come into existence in 1977 and after steady improvement they made 1985 their year, with an AL East title. Although a race that looked like it was on the bag on a couple different occasions got very interesting before it was over.
*The Los Angeles Dodgers, after a poor 1984 season, had a comeback year for Tom Lasorda. The Dodgers were the only team to clinch a division title before the final weekend of the season, thanks to a big year from third baseman Pedro Guerrero and the pitching of Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela.
*The California Angels had fallen off the map since their 1982 playoff appearance. The Angels had a veteran lineup and they brought a veteran manager—Gene Mauch—back to manage the team. The results were instantly positive, but the ending was disappointing as the Angels let a division lead slip away in the face of the Kansas City charge.
*And how about the Big Apple? The Mets and Yankees contended to the final Saturday of the season. Dwight Gooden had one of the great pitching seasons of all-time for the Mets. Billy Martin returned to manage the Yanks, what would prove to be his last rodeo in the Bronx.
*The Cincinnati Reds had been on hard times and brought back Pete Rose as player-manager. Rose made history in his pursuit of Ty Cobb’s all-time hit record and his team made remarkable improvement on the field to finish second in the NL West.
*Kansas City and St. Louis each dug holes in the ALCS & NLCS respectively, and each rallied. The Royals won three straight, including the last two on the road. The Cardinals relied on consecutive games with big home runs, from Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark to close the pennant.
*And finally we come to the World Series itself. The Royals lost the first two games at home and ultimately fell behind 3-1 in the series. Their ultimate rally to win it all is most remembered by a dramatic Game 6. They got help from an infamous umpire’s call, cashed it in and then the Cardinals came unglued—both on the field and with their tempers—for the national audience.
The following eleven articles tell you the stories of the four division winners, the four runner-ups and go game-by-game through all three postseason series. Together, they tell the story of a special baseball season through the eyes of its best teams.