People make mistakes, including umpires. Ideally mistakes made by umpires don't affect the outcome of a game. But in one fateful World Series game it did.
The St Louis Cardinals were a team built on pitching, defense, and speed. They had a rookie named Vince Coleman who stole over 100 bases to set a rookie record. Unfortunately, Coleman had gotten his leg stuck in a tarp at Busch Stadium during the playoffs and was unavailable for the World Series. Still the Cards had the best record in baseball and were favored after Ossie Smith hit a game winning homer to beat the Dodgers in the NLCS.
Their opponents were the team just up I-70 from St Louis. The Kansas City Royals won the AL on the bat of third baseman George Brett and the pitching of Bret Saberhagen and came from behind to beat the Blue Jays in the ALCS.
The Royals would have to come from behind again against the Cardinals. This time they had a little help from an unexpected source.
The Series started as expected with John Tudor besting Danny Jackson 3-1 in the opener.
The Royals had a 2-0 lead in the 9th in game 2. But the Cards scratched across 4 runs in the 9th to take a 2 games to none lead.
Dick Howser turned to his ace in game 3 to get the Royals back in the Series. Saberhagen gave up 6 hits and 1 run while getting a homer from Frank White to win 6-1.
Tudor threw a 5 hitter for his second win in game 4. Tito Landrum and another rookie, Willie McGee homered for the Cards in a 3-0 win.
The Royals were down 3-1. Only 3 times previously had a team come back from such a deficit to win.
The comeback got off to a good start as the Royals chased Bob Forsch in the second inning and rode Jackson's 5 hit pitching to a 5-1 win.
Then came the fateful game 6.
Cox and Charlie Leibrandt pitched 7 scoreless innings. The Cardinals finally broke through in the 8th with a run scoring pinch hit single by Brian Harper.
It remained 1-0 into the bottom of the ninth with the Cards 3 outs away from their second World Championship in 4 years. Relief ace Todd Worrell was in for the Cardinals.
The leadoff batter was Jorge Orta. He hit a ground ball to Jack Clark at first base. Clark flipped the ball to Worrell covering for the apparent out. But 1st base umpire Don Denkinger called Orta safe even though replays showed otherwise. Clark, Worrell, and manager Whitey Herzog argued the call to no avail. The Royals loaded the bases and Dane Iorg drove in two runs for the Royals' win.
There now was a need for a game 7. As crew chief, Denkinger was behind the plate for the game. Apparently, this did not sit well with the Cardinals and they basically didn't even show up. Saberhagen threw a 5 hitter while the Royals rapped out 14 hits in an 11-0 laugher.
Don Denkinger umpired for 30 years and in 4 World Series, 3 All Star Games, and 6 ALCS. He generally was considered a good umpire. But it was the mistake he made in game 6 of the 1985 World Series that he will always be remembered for.