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The story of the crazy 1972 doubleheader between the Yankees and Royals

I’m not sure the Yankees and Royals enjoyed playing two on August 27, 1972.

David Cone

The Yankees and Royals played a doubleheader on August 27, 1972. Seven hours and 28 minutes of game action later, the Yankees had swept the doubleheader, winning both game in crazy fashion.

In the first game of the day, Mel Stottlemyre was the starting pitcher for the Yankees. He allowed five runs in just 1.2 innings and was replaced by Wade Blasingame. Blasingame pitched 4.1 innings in relief, but allowed a run in the fifth, leaving the Yankees down 6-0.

The Yankees chipped away at the deficit, scoring two runs in the fifth. In the sixth, the Yankees added another two runs. After two scoreless innings from Ron Klimkowski, they scored another two runs in the eighth, coming all the way back to tie the game.

Sparky Lyle came in and pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth. The Yankees then loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth. After Ron Swoboda fouled out, Johnny Callison appeared to hit a walk-off grand slam. However, the ball actually landed on top of the scoreboard in right-center and bounced back into play. Callison was credited with just a single. However, it was enough for the Yankees to win 7-6.

Somehow the second game of the day was even crazier.

Fritz Peterson got the start for the Yankees in the second game, and early on he was cruising. Two singles and one hit batter were the only baserunners he allowed through four innings. In the meantime, the Yankees opened up a 5-0 lead, scoring two runs in the third, and three in the fourth.

In the top of the fifth, John Mayberry led off the inning with a home run, making it 5-1. Peterson retired the next three batters, keeping the damage to just the one run. After a couple more scoreless innings from Peterson, the Yankees tacked on another run in the seventh.

With a five-run lead, Peterson came back out for the eighth. Freddie Patek hit a one-out double, and came around to score when Amos Otis singled. After allowing a single in the next at bat, Peterson was replaced by Lyle. After already pitching once, the Yankees called upon Lyle to finish off the game. That may not have been the best decision.

The first batter Lyle faced was future Yankee teammate Lou Piniella, who hit a three-run home run off Lyle, making it 6-5. Lyle then got a pair of fly outs to end the inning, but the Yankees’ lead was down to one run.

The pitchers’ spot was due up first in the bottom of the eighth, so the Yankees sent up Lyle to hit, as he still had the ninth to pitch. He gave them an added bonus of singling to lead off the inning. Bernie Allen then added a single, moving Lyle to scoring position. However, Lyle was then immediately picked off second, and the Yankees scored no insurance runs in the inning.

Lyle needed just three outs to finish off a doubleheader sweep. He got none. The Royals first four hitters went single, double, single, single, taking a 7-6 lead and knocking Lyle out of the game. Ron Klimkowski replaced Lyle, also making his second appearance of the day. He immediately threw away a sacrifice bunt, allowing another run to score. Klimkowski eventually got out of the inning without allowing another run, but it was now the Yankees down with just three outs left.

Roy White and Felipe Alou started off the bottom of the ninth with two straight singles. A John Ellis double play then immediately erased Alou. However, White did move to third on the play. Celerino Sanchez kept the Yankees alive with a single, scoring White. Jerry Kennedy followed that with a single, moving Sanchez into scoring position. Thurman Munson then added a third-straight single, scoring Sanchez and tying the game. Horace Clark flew out to end the inning, but after being down to their final out, the Yankees had come back to tie the game.

The game would go quite a bit longer after that. The Royals left the bases loaded in the 12th. The Yankees then did the same in the 13th. After a couple more botched RISP opportunities from both teams, the Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out in the 16th. Just as he did in the ninth, Clark flew out. However, this time, there was no one out, and it was deep enough for Sanchez to tag up and score. The Yankees came away with a 9-8 win in 16 innings.

In relief for the Yankees, Lindy McDaniel pitched seven scoreless innings. He very nearly went as long as the starting pitcher, Peterson, did.

The weirdest day belonged to Sparky Lyle. He is probably the only person to record a win, a blown save, a hit, and get picked off in the same day.