Nearly every game in this series has had a story behind the date. Sometimes they’re personal, sometimes they’re completely random, and sometimes the date just happens to be the same as the day the piece is going up on the site.
This piece’s story isn’t a long one. I chose the date because it revolved around a band. One day, just over two weeks ago, I wasn’t feeling well and vowed to stay off social media for 24 hours. During that time, I watched a ton of YouTube videos and fell down a Duran Duran video rabbit hole. Yes, Duran Duran is my favorite band of all time. I’ve seen them live over 20 times. The story is this: I clicked on the video for “A View to Kill” and I thought about how much I loved that song when it was out. It was released in May 1985 just as fifth grade was winding down for me, and it reached the top of the Billboard charts in mid-July. It’s still the only James Bond theme to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100 and it stayed there for two weeks.
So I am writing about the first day the song reached the top of the charts: July 13, 1985. That day was historic for another reason. It was the day of the Live Aid concert. For those too young to remember: back in the 1980s, musical artists became concerned about starving people in Ethiopia. Bob Geldof, the lead singer of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Ultravox came up with the idea to write a song called “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” hoping to raise money for to help. Geldof convinced his contemporaries in the music business to record the song for free. The group named Band-Aid comprised nearly every major British artist of the mid-1980s, including the members of Duran Duran, Sting, Boy George and members of Culture Club, Wham!, Bananarama, Paul Young and Phil Collins.
Not to be outdone, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie gathered a bunch of American artists including Bruce Springsteen, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Steve Perry, James Igram, Kim Carnes and Ray Charles to record the song “We Are The World” under the name USA for Africa a few months later. Boy George of Culture Club was the one who first suggested a charity concert. The plan came to fruition in July. The massive Live Aid concert would take place both in England and in the United States, at Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia.
So what was happening in baseball?
Two days earlier, on July 11, Nolan Ryan of the Houston Astros recorded career strikeout number 4,000. He struck out Danny Heep of the Mets and the Astros went on to win the game 4-3. Two days later, on July 15, Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds won the first annual All-Star Home Run Derby. And one day after that, the National League defeated the American League 6-1 in the All-Star game. It was the NL’s 13th win out of 14 All-Star games. La Marr Hoyt of the San Diego Padres won the All-Star MVP.
On July 13, the Seattle Mariners were playing the Boston Red Sox in the Kingdome. Each team was in fifth place in its division, with Boston eight and a half games behind first-place Toronto and Seattle nine games behind first place Kansas City. But there are subplots that raise this game above its effect on the standings.
- Dwight Evans RF
- Wade Boggs 3B
- Bill Buckner 1B
- Jim Rice LF
- Mike Easler DH
- Rich Gedman C
- Glenn Hoffman SS
- Steve Lyons CF
- Marty Barrett 2B
- Spike Owen SS
- Phil Bradley CF
- Al Cowens RF
- Gorman Thomas DH
- Alvin Davis 1B
- Ivan Calderon LF
- Jim Presley 3B
- Bob Kearney C
- Harold Reynolds 2B
Young, who was behind home plate, was a major league umpire from 1983 – 2007. During the work stoppage of 1994-1995, he refereed a WWE match between The Undertaker and King Kong Bundy during Wrestlemania XI. Young was written into the story line as an out-of-work sports official because of the strike, which had ended at the time of WrestleMania.
First base umpire Reed was a major league umpire from 1979 to 2009. He was behind the plate on Aug. 22, 2007 when the Texas Rangers set an American League record by scoring 30 runs against the Baltimore Orioles.
Second base umpire Kosc was behind the plate for two perfect games during his career: Len Barker’s in May 1981 and Mike Witt’s in 1984. He was also an umpire on Sept. 6, 1995 when Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak. He also was part of the group of umps who, as part of a union strategy, sent in their resignations to Major League Baseball in 1999. What they didn’t realize was that MLB would accept the resignations.
And finally, at third base, was McClelland, now recently retired. McClelland would be a part of many famous games: a perfect game (David Wells in 1998), no-hitters (Jack Morris in 1984 and Nolan Ryan in 1990) , All-Star Games (1986, 1998 and 2003), Division Series (1997, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006), League Championship Series (1988, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009), and World Series (1993, 2000, 2002 and 2006). But, perhaps, his best-known was the Pine Tar game at Yankee Stadium in 1983. McClelland was the one who examined George Brett’s bat and called him out.
Chuck Cottier was the Mariners’ manager in 1985. John McNamara managed the Red Sox.
Dwight Evans led the game off with a single against Young, but Young got Boggs, Buckner and Rice to ground out to end the inning.
What a group of batters in that group of four: Two future Hall of Famers—Boggs and Rice—and two All-Stars in Buckner and Evans. Buckner would become notorious for his gaffe during the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets. (People forget that there was a Game Seven that the Red Sox could have won, but didn’t.)
Rice had gotten into a tussle with a fan in the Kingdome the previous night. He was chasing a foul pop down the left-field line in the third inning when the fan reached out and took the ball from Rice’s glove. Rice didn’t take kindly to that and slapped the ball out of the fan’s glove which led to the Kingdome crowd booing him in his next at-bat. Of course Rice answered with a first-pitch home run and the Red Sox went on to win the game, 5-4.
Back to Saturday’s game. Spike Owen led off for the Mariners and hit the ball to the first baseman Buckner, Hurst covering first base for out number one. Center fielder Bradley reached on an error by second baseman Barrett, but Al Cowens grounded into a double play, ending the inning.
In the top of the second, designated hitter Easler led off with a single, but Gedman hit into a force out, Glenn Hoffman grounded to the pitcher and Lyons lined out to third.
Lyons, a rookie in 1985, would play for the Red Sox three separate times during his major league career: 1985-86, 1991, 1992-93. He also played for the White Sox (1986-1990), and the Braves and Expos in 1992. Lyons, who now works as a broadcaster for the New England Sports Network, has had a colorful and controversial career. He was suspended for making ethnically insensitive comments about Jewish people and ultimately fired from Fox for making fun of Hispanic people, specifically his colleague Lou Piniella.
Piniella had made an analogy involving the luck of finding a wallet, then briefly used a couple of Spanish phrases during Friday’s broadcast.
Lyons said that Piniella was “habla-ing Espanol” — butchering the conjugation for the word “to speak” — and added, “I still can’t find my wallet.”
“I don’t understand him, and I don’t want to sit too close to him now,” Lyons continued.
The 0-0 tie was broken in the bottom of the second inning when Seattle first baseman Davis hit a home run to make it 1-0, Mariners. The Mariners added another run in the bottom of the third when Owen hit an RBI double to score Reynolds.
Reynolds played with the Mariners from 1983 – 1992, with the Orioles in 1993 and the Angels in 1994. He retired after the 1994 season and went into broadcasting. He was a lead analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and was with ESPN until 2006. He was fired after allegations of sexual harassment. He tried to get his job back, but ESPN instead settled with him in court for seven figures. Reynolds recovered well and was hired by MLB Network and Fox Sports.
In the top of the fourth, the Red Sox cut the score in half, courtesy of a Hoffman RBI single. The Sox had runners on second and third with only one out but didn’t capitalize further —Lyons struck out and Barrett hit a fly ball, ending the inning. An inning later, Evans tied the game on a solo home run off Young.
The game would remain tied until the bottom of the seventh when Barry Bonnell pinch hit for Reynolds with a runner on second and hit an RBI double. Presley scored but Kearney was thrown out at home while trying to score from first. The Mariners were up 3-2.
In the bottom of the eighth, against Hurst, Bradley and Thomas hit solo home runs, apparently breaking the game open with the Mariners up 5-2 heading into the top of the ninth. All they had to do was get three outs.
That didn’t happen.
Evans led off the inning with a single off Mariners reliever Roy Thomas, who was immediately removed for Ed Vande Berg. Vande Berg gave up a single to Boggs and then induced a ground ball double play that advanced Evans to third base. Reliever Edwin Nunez came in to face Rice and promptly gave up an RBI single, cutting the Mariners’ lead to 5-3.
Nunez walked Easler and Rice advanced to second. Rick Miller came in as a pinch runner for Easler, and Dave Sax, who had pinch-run for Gedman in the top of the eighth, hit into a fielder’s choice to shortstop which turned into an E-4. Rice was on third, Miller was safe at second on the error and Sax was on first.
Hoffman stepped up to the plate and hit a two-run single to tie the game at five.
Brian Snyder came in to face Lyons and he got Lyons to hit a fly ball to short to end the inning.
Bob Stanley entered for Boston to pitch the bottom of the ninth and gave up a leadoff double to Ivan Calderon. He intentionally walked Presley and then all hell broke loose. Kearney bunted toward first. Trying to get Calderon at third, Buckner threw the ball away and Calderon scored the winning run.
The 1985 Mariners would finish 74-88, in sixth place and 17 games back of the first-place and eventual 1985 World Champion Kansas City Royals. The franchise wouldn’t field a playoff team until 1995, when that squad beat the Yankees in the first-ever American League Division Series. They would go on to lose the American League Championship Series to eventual World Series loser Cleveland. The Mariners would make the playoffs three more times after that: 1997, 2000 and 2001. In both 2000 and 2001, they would lose to the Yankees. In 2001, the Mariners won a league record 116 regular season games but lost the ALCS four games to one.
The 1985 Red Sox went on to finish 81-81, in fifth place and 18 ½ games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. They famously made the 1986 World Series and lost in heartbreaking fashion to the New York Mets. They wouldn’t be back in a World Series until 2004 when they broke the “Curse of the Bambino” by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in four games.
As for Live Aid: 1.9 billion people across the globe watched the concert which was broadcast on the BBC, ABC, MTV and ABC radio. It raised $125 million for African famine relief.
References and Resources
- History Channel, “This Day in History: Live Aid concert – Jul 13, 1985”
- The New York Times, “SPORTS PEOPLE; Rice’s Battle NYT”
- Matthew Callan, The Classical, “Called out: The Forgotten Baseball Umpires Strike of the 1999”
- DJNoah80, SE Scoops, “WrestleMania Retrospective – WrestleMania XI (1995)”
- Associated Press, ESPN.com, “Fox fires Lyons for racially insensitive comment”
- Courier Press
- New York Post