After going 4 for 4, driving in two runs and scoring two runs to help the Detroit Tigers end the Kansas City Royals’ seven-game winning streak, 11-7, Tuesday night, Kirk Gibson wanted to talk about the plane that buzzed Tiger Stadium.
A small jet came roaring in like a runaway rocket some 400 feet over home plate, scaring the players and many of the 34,261 fans.
“It didn’t scare me,” Gibson said. “I saw it coming. I saw it and kept waiting for the noise.”
With Jack Morris working on a 1-and-2 count to Kansas City’s Onix Concepcion in the top of the sixth inning, there came the orange flame and loud roar of twin jet engines.
Tiger second baseman Lou Whitaker began to run toward right field, away from the path of the jet. He stopped after a few steps as the jet climbed and disappeared.
However, when the seventh inning started, Doug Flynn came out to play second base for the Tigers. Whitaker was dressed and gone by the time reporters were allowed in the Tiger clubhouse after the game.
“It scared the devil out of me,” Detroit Manager Sparky Anderson said. “I’ll be honest--I didn’t know what it was. It scared me. I thought it was crashing into the stadium.”
Dick Howser, the Royal manager, said he also was frightened.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Howser said. “It sounded like it came right through the press box. It seemed like it stayed over the stadium a long time--two or three seconds. I thought it might be a missile or something.”
Detroit Police Sgt. Daniel Carr said the department was preparing a complaint.
Morris, although he gave up nine hits in six innings, improved his record to 12-6. Willie Hernandez got his 21st save, although he gave up five hits in the last three innings. George Brett had three of the Royals’ 14 hits, including his 15th home run.