My experience at the 1985 World Series — Royals & Cardinals.

I grew up poor in the rural South. A small town outside of Charlotte, NC called Matthews. In those days, the early 50’s it was before segregation and the school was grades 1 through 12. I had an only sister, Cathy, who started at Matthews school a year ahead of me. She was my trailblazer and had all the stories to tell of what it was like.

We moved a lot, I went th three Junior High Schools and four High Schools. This was a day when the rotary dial phone was moving toward digital and touch tone, so we went where the job went.

I never really thought of it as hard or difficult. It was something new and different and somehow, I always managed.

I went into the Air Force after High School and served four years. After w years in Tucson at Davis-Monthan AFB and then two at McDill AFB in Tucson, I moved back to NC where my family was.

I was fortunate to have landed a part-time job with Eastern Air Lines. I was going to college full-time at Charlotte University.

Eastern was a great job. I learned a lot, got to travel a lot and then in 1983 an opportunity to move from inside sales to work at the airport in Kansas City, Mo. It was a major league city. Charlotte as big but was always trying to catch up to the neighbor to the South in Atlanta, Ga. If you wanted major league, it was in Atlanta. The Braves, the Falcons, the Hawks it was all there. It wasn’t really accessible to me except from watching on TV.

I moved to KC in November of 1983. It was one of the most intense winters on record. Cold and snow like I had never experienced. When the jet stream dropped down from the north, it would bring single digit tempratures that would stay for days. The wind would bring wind chill temps of minus double digits at times. It was cold like I could never imagine.

When the spring thaw came in March, the talk turned to the Royals and baseball. Of course I was anxious to there and check it out. My first surprise was the astro turf. It looked like old worn out carpet. It was drab looking with faded color, worn at the edges and not an ideal playing surface for pro baseball. It was Kaufmann Stadium, home of the KC Royals. Right next door was Arrowhead Stadium where the Kansas City Chiefs played. It was a combined sports park, they shared surface parking lots and just adjacent to the interstate it was an easy on and off.

When I moved there in 1983, there was not alot of optimism for post season play. In the American league, the Yankees, A’s and Tigers were the teams making the noise. In the National League it was the Dodgers, the Phillies and the Mets. All big market teams whereas the Royals were considered a small market team squarely in the center of the country the great mid-west.

By this time everyone had heard of the great ‘pine tar bat incident in July of 1983 in a game versus the NY Yankees, the famous Billy Martin protested a go ahead home run by Brett due to the perceived amount of pine tar to assist in Brett’s grip of the bat. It was deemed excessive, the home run was disallowed and the Yankees were ruled winners of the game. I twas quote controversial and made for great TV drama and the film of Brett exploding out of the dug out to go toe to toe with the unpire McPhail was made for TV drama.

Those lind of stories in baseball are talked about in a way that characterizes a playes as a passionate fiery competitor. George Brett was that and I believe that incident became a flashpoint of focus of this Royals squad.

The follwing years were average and then in 1985 under the leadership of Dics Howser the coach and John Schurholtz, they began to assemble a pitching staff.

In 1984 Bret Saberhagen made his debut and was considered a strong prospect. He would be come the anchor of the staff in 1985. They had other names like Bud Black,Charlie Liebrandt, Danny Jackson anchored with a sidewinding closer named Dan Quisneberry.

The year was 1985 and it was the Royals vs the St Louis Cardinals. It was dubbed the I-70 series since that interstate separated the two largest cities on either end of the state.

I happened to be off on the day the tickets went on sale so I went down to the stadium. They had a system set up where you could go to one window and buy one set of tickets for one game. When it came my turn, I went to the window and bought two standing room, only tickets for game one. With myy transaction complete, is was directed to exit. As I made my way to the exite I oassed the last ticket window. There was no one in line. I looked at the gate were patrons were to wait and there as no one in line. I stopped at the window and said ‘ do you have anything for game two’ She said, yes standing room only so I bought two more tickets.

It was just unreal how it happened and I felt so fortunate to have snagged ticket to not one but two World Series games.

The first game I went to with my buddy Loren.Unfortunately they lost. I sold the tickets to game two. I know, it was crazy to do but money was tight and I felt like I had to do it since I could turn a hefty profit. My wie was pregenant with our Son and not working so it was not that hard of a decision to make They lost in game two as well.

It was a seven game series and they lost the first three games to come back and win the following four games and eventually take the series Championship and a blowout win at 11–0 in game seven.

I hae a photo of me and Ben the morning of October 27, 1985. I’m holding my new born in one arm and the newspaper in the other with the headline reading ‘Miracle on I-70’.

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Jon D. Lastra

Jon D. Lastra

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