KANSAS CITY -- Perhaps the most famous call in Royals broadcasting history wasn’t the slight bit planned.
The scene was Game 7 of the 1985 World Series, and the Royals were about to close out a dramatic comeback from being down three games to one to the Cardinals. The Royals had just erupted for six runs in the fifth inning, taking a commanding 11-0 lead.
With the game’s outcome virtually decided, along with the Royals’ first World Series title, there was nothing left to do but wait. And count the outs remaining.
That’s exactly what Hall of Fame Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews did: He simply counted the outs on air.
In the ninth inning, as Bret Saberhagen was finishing off a five-hit shutout, Matthews went from “two outs to go” to “one out to go” to finally “[Darryl] Motley going back, to the track. No outs to go! The Royals have won the 1985 World Series!”
And Matthews remembers starting the out progression several innings earlier.
“It was probably about the seventh inning,” he said. “I remember saying ‘eight outs to go’ and ‘seven outs to go’ and so on.”
Matthews said he had never done an outs countdown before, nor did he ever do it afterward.
“It’s not something you think about the night before,” he said, "but the thing is, everybody was trying to run out the clock and get on with the party.
“The game lacked drama because of the big lead. There was no suspense. There was just that buildup, that anticipation of counting down the outs until everyone could celebrate.”
Little did Matthews know that “No outs to go!” became synonymous and then synced with every highlight associated with that championship.
“I didn’t know anything about that call until I heard it while watching a highlight on the stadium scoreboard when I got here in ’99,” broadcasting partner Ryan Lefebvre said. “That’s how I knew about it. And, of course, Royals fans have heard it so many times over the years.”
Matthews and Lefebvre were involved in the next great call in Royals history, the one that capped the 2015 World Series-clinching Game 5 win over the Mets.
The backstory on it: Because the game went into extra innings, Matthews and Lefebvre traded innings after the ninth. In the fateful 12th inning, it was Lefebvre’s turn for the play-by-play.
But after the Royals scored five in the top of the inning, Lefebvre wondered if Matthews would want to call the final three outs -- a nice, sentimental bookend to the 1985 call. Lefebvre looked over toward Matthews for any kind of a sign.
“Denny was just scribbling notes on his scorecard,” Lefebvre recalled.
Lefebvre leaned over and whispered, “Denny, are you OK if I call the final three outs?”
Matthews, somewhat puzzled by the query, replied, “Of course. It’s your inning. That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
“And then he went on scribbling notes on his scorecard, like it was no big deal,” Lefebvre said, laughing.
Several minutes later, closer Wade Davis pumped a fastball past Wilmer Flores, and Lefebvre blared, “Strike three called! It’s over! They’ve done it! The Royals are World Series champions!”