Kansas City Royals

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 23:08

The History of the Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals got their name from a livestock show, rodeo, and horse show called American Royal, which was held in Kansas City, Missouri since 1899. As a Major League Baseball (MLB) team, the Royals, who have played in Kauffman Stadium since 1973, are a member of the Central Division of MLB's American League. At the beginning of the team's history, the name of the team – the “Royals” -- pays homage to the “Monarchs,” which was a Negro League club also in Kansas City, Missouri.

In 1969, Ewing Kauffman was instrumental to the team entering the MLB as an expansion franchise. It was also this time that Kansas City's previous major league team – the Athletics – moved to California, prompting then US senator Stuart Symington to establish a new franchise for Kansas City in MLB.

The 1970s

The year 1969 was a milestone date for the Royals as they defeated the Minnesota Twins in their inaugural game, which happened on April 8. With a score of 4-3 in 12 innings, the team won against the Twins in Kansas City. Several trades were key to the development of the team during its start. These trades included one for Lou Piniella, who would eventually win the Rookie of the Year award during 1969, the inaugural season of the Kansas City Royals. Under the leadership of Cedric Tallis, who was the Royals' first General Manager, the team was able to nurture the talents of Al Cowens (outfielder), George Brett and Frank White (infielders), and Steve Busby and Paul Splittorff (pitchers) – players who would eventually become baseball's star players.

The first half of the 1970s saw the team making significant achievements. For one, the Royals managed to grab a second-place finish in 1971, which incidentally was the Royals' first winning season. In the mid-1970s, the Royals won three consecutive division championships. These successive victories from 1976 to 1978 enabled the team to dominate the Western Division of the American League. However, the New York Yankees, which were also dominant during this period, managed to beat the Royals in three consecutive games in the American League Championship series.

It was also during the 1970s that the team first wore their uniforms and that the Royals moved to the Kauffman Stadium, which was known at that time as the Royals Stadium.

The first half of the 1980s

The Royals began the decade of the 80s when Jim Frey replaced Whitey Herzog as the General Manager. It was under the leadership of Frey wherein the Royals beat the New York Yankees in a three-game sweep when the team met again in the American League Championship Series (ALCS). Goose Gossage, the New York Yankees' star pitcher was humbled by George Brett's home run. When the team reached the World Series, however, they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.

In 1981, the Kansas City Royals lost to the Oakland Athletics (who were incidentally the first franchise of Kansas City, Missouri). It was also the year of the MLB strike, which caused a split-season. Because of this split-season, there were a unique divisional series; it was in this divisional series that the Royals lost to Athletics.

One of the most historical events in the history of the Kansas City Royals was the “Pine Tar Incident.” In 1983, baseball umpires during a game between the Royals and the Yankees discovered illegally placed pine tar in the bat of baseman George Brett. According to existing baseball rules, no more than 18 inches of pine tar should be placed in the handle of a baseball bat. George Brett's bat was found to have more than the allowed amount.

In 1984, the Royals recovered from this unfortunate incident by winning their 5th division championship. Many sports historians believe that the team owed its victory through the pitching abilities of Danny Jackson, Bud Black, Mark Gubicza, and Bret Saberhagen. However, when the Royals met the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series, they lost to the Tigers, who would eventually win the World Series.

From 1985 to 1994

In 1985, Bret Saberhagen would win the Cy Young Award. Saberhagen was instrumental in the Royals' performance during the 1985 regular season, which was when the team would place first in the Western Division. This would be the Royals sixth time to finish first place in 10 years. The Royals did not have an easy time to reach this spot though. In the ALCS against the Cardinals, the Royals were down 3 games to 1, prompting many people to predict that the Cardinals would clinch the title. However, the Royals, despite the odds, managed to win the next 3 games, eventually capturing the ALCS title. These odds would again be observed in the 1985 World Series when the Royals were down 3 to 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Nevertheless, the Royals managed to win the next 3 games, clinching the Royals' first World Series title. Looking back, those who witnessed the games of this World Series would always point to game 6 of the series, when Jorge Orta and Dane Iorg were the key players in winning that particular game.

The second half of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s would be remembered by the achievements of Bo Jackson, Kevin Seitzer, and Tom Gordon, who are the Royals' young star players. However, despite the stellar performances of these players, the Royals failed to capitalize on them as they always lost in the games of the post-season. This was evident in 1989. In that year, even though the Royals managed to win 92 games in 1989, they still were not able to qualify for the playoffs.

The early 1990s will always be known as the time that Brett would end his noteworthy baseball career. It was during this time that Brett would mark his 3,000th hit and that he would win his final batting title in 1990 (his third batting title). Because of his achievement, he would always be known as the first baseball player to win batting titles from the 1970s to the 1990s – a total of three decades.

From 1995 to the present

In 2000, David Glass, a Wal-Mart executive, purchased the team. Since the death of Kauffman in 1993, the Royals franchise had no permanent owner. Prior to this purchase, the team would be plagued by poor leadership and payroll reductions. In the latter half of the 1990s, the Royals lost key players (Kevin Appier, Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye) when they traded them to players with less-stellar performances because management could no longer pay the high salaries of their star players. Also, the fact that the younger players that the Royals acquired did not deliver on their potential contributed to the unfortunate overall performance of the team. The year 1999 would always be remembered as the year when the Royals winning percentage was at an all-time franchise low – a .398 winning percentage (with a record of 64 wins and 97 losses). The team would again lose 97 games in 2001. In 20020, the Royals lost 100 games, a first in their history, prompting them to get a new coach to replace Tony Muser in the person of Tony Peña. The losing streak continued until 2006 despite significant team changes. In 2006, the Royals became the 11th team to lose 100 games in three consecutive seasons. Because of this losing stream, Dayton Moore replaced Allard Baird as the team's General Manager.

In 2008, loyal fans of the team were happy to note that the Royals finished the season with a record of 75-87, which is the team's best performance since 2003. The key player in this year's season, with 42 saves, was Joakim Soria. Soria represented the Royals in the 2008 MLB All-Star Game.