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On This Date in Sports May 27, 1981: Lenny Randle Blows

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Lenny Randle provides some comedy relief for the scuffling Seattle Mariners when he gets on all fours and attempts to blow a ball foul on the third baseline. The Mariners were trailing the Kansas City Royals 7-4 in the sixth inning when Amos Otis hit a slow roller down the line. With no hope to throw out the speedy Otis, Randle tried to get the ball foul. Umpire Larry McCoy was not amused and ruled the ball fair, as the Royals won the game 8-5. 

In their first five seasons, the Seattle Mariners were a rather non-descript franchise playing in the concrete dungeon-like Kingdome. The Mariners had been off to a bad start, costing manager Maury Wills his job. With a record of 15-28, the Mariners were closing out a homestand against the Kansas City Royals on a Wednesday night. Under the leadership of Jim Frey, the Royals were scuffling with a World Series hangover at 12-24. 

The Royals jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning against Floyd Bannister, spurred by a three-run home run by Willie Aikens as George Brett previously singled home Willie Wilson, as the first four batters reached base for Kansas City. UL Washington extended the lead to 5-0 with a home run in the second. Dave Henderson got the Mariners on the board with an RBI single, scoring Gart Gray in the bottom of the inning. The Royals eventually built a 7-1 lead as Willie Wilson and Amos Otis knocked in a pair of runs in the fourth. Seattle crawled back into the game in the fifth, scoring three runs off Paul Splitorff, as Julio Cruz knocked in Henderson, while Lenny Randle and RIck Auerbach had run-scoring sacrifice flies. 

Now trailing 7-4, with reliever Larry Andersen on the mound, the Mariners looked to keep momentum on their side. With two outs and a runner on first, Amos Otis hit a slow roller down the third baseline. It was going to be an infield hit if it stayed fair. Lenny Randle, the well-traveled third baseman of the Mariners, dropped on all fours and blew the ball foul. Umpire Larry McCoy was not amused as he ruled the ball fair after Jim Frey came out to argue. Much to Seattle's chagrin, the ball was ruled fair, and an infield hit. George Brett would ground out to end the inning, making it no harm, no foul for the Mariners. 

The Mariners got a home run by Dave Henderson in the seventh, while Otis knocked in a run with a sac-fly in the eighth. Leading 8-5, the Royals won the game, with Dan Quisenberry recording the save as Lenny Randle grounded out to end the game. The play of Randle blowing the ball foul was seen everywhere after the game, as it went viral in the days long before the internet. Lenny Randle denied blowing on the ball, claiming he was yelling at the ball on the ground.