The Kansas City Royals are a Major League Baseball team based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals are a member of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From to the present, the Royals have played in Kauffman Stadium.
The "Royals" name originates from the American Royal, a livestock show, horse show, and rodeo held annually in Kansas City since 1899. Th "Royals" name also echoes the name of a legendary Negro League club, the Kansas City Monarchs.
Entering Major League Baseball as an expansion franchise in 1969, the club was founded by Ewing Kauffman, a Kansas City businessman. The franchise was established following the actions of Stuart Symington, then-United States Senator from Missouri, who demanded a new franchise for the city after the Athletics—Kansas City's previous major league team—moved to Oakland, California.
The team was quickly built through a number of trades engineered by its first General Manager, Cedric Tallis, including a trade for Lou Piniella, who won the Rookie of the Year during the Royals' inaugural season. The Royals also invested in a strong farm system and soon developed such future stars as pitchers Paul Splittorff and Steve Busby, infielders George Brett and Frank White, and outfielder Al Cowens.
In 1971, the Royals had their first winning season, with manager Bob Lemon leading them to a second-place finish. In 1973, under manager Jack McKeon, the Royals adopted their iconic "powder blue" road uniforms and moved from Municipal Stadium to the brand-new Royals Stadium (now known as Kauffman Stadium).
Manager Whitey Herzog replaced McKeon in 1975, and the Royals quickly became the dominant franchise in the American League's Western Division, winning three straight division championships from 1976 to 1978. However, the Royals lost to the New York Yankees in three straight American League Championship Series encounters.
The Royals returned to the post-season in 1981, losing to the Oakland Athletics in a unique divisional series resulting from the split-season caused by the 1981 Major League Baseball strike. In July of 1983, while the Royals were headed for a second-place finish behind the Chicago White Sox another chapter in the team's rivalry with the Yankees occurred. In what has come to be known as "the Pine Tar Incident," umpires discovered illegal placement of pine tar (more than 18 inches up the handle) on third baseman George Brett's bat after he had hit a home run. Home plate umpire Tim McClelland immediately disallowed the home run, and George Brett stormed out of the dugout, angry and hysterical. McClelland ejected Brett. "The Pine Tar Incident" has now become part of baseball lore.
Under the leadership of manager Dick Howser, the Royals won their fifth division championship in 1984, relying on Brett's bat and the young pitching staff of Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, Charlie Leibrandt, Bud Black and Danny Jackson. The Royals were then swept by the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series. The Tigers went on to win the World Series.
In the 1985 regular season the Royals topped the Western Division for the sixth time in ten years, led by Bret Saberhagen's Cy Young Award-winning performance. Throughout the ensuing playoffs, the Royals repeatedly put themselves into difficult positions, but managed to escape each time. With the Royals down 3-games-to-one in the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Royals eventually rallied to win the series 4-3. In the 1985 World Series against the cross-state St. Louis Cardinals – the so-called "I-70 Series" because the two teams are both located in the state of Missouri and connected by Interstate 70 – the Royals again fell behind 3-1. The key game in the Royals' comeback was Game Six. Facing elimination, the Royals trailed 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning, before rallying to score two runs and win. The rally was helped by a controversial safe call at first base by umpire Don Denkinger, which allowed Royals outfielder Jorge Orta to reach base safely as the first baserunner of the inning.
Following Orta's single, the Cardinals dropped an easy popout and suffered a passed ball, before the Royals went on to win with a bloop base hit by seldom used pinch hitter Dane Iorg. Following the tension of Game Six, the Cardinals came undone in Game Seven, and the Royals won 11-0 to clinch the franchise's first World Series title.
Many of the team's highlights from this era instead centered around the end of Brett's career, such as his third and final batting title in 1990 – which made him the first player to win batting titles in three different decades – and his 3,000th hit. Though the team dropped out of contention from 1990 to 1992, the Royals still could generally be counted on to post winning records through the strike-shortened 1994 season.
As attendance slid and the average MLB salary continued to rise, the Royals found it difficult to retain their remaining stars, and the club traded players such as Kevin Appier and Johnny Damon for prospects, and Jermaine Dye for perennial underachiever Neifi Perez rather than pay higher salaries or lose them to free agency. Making matters worse, most of the younger players that the Royals received in exchange for these All-Stars proved of little value, setting the stage for an extended downward spiral. Indeed, the Royals set a franchise low with a .398 winning percentage (64-97 record) in 1999, and lost 97 games again in 2001.
In the middle of this era, in 1997, the Royals declined the opportunity to switch to the National League as part of a realignment plan to introduce the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays as expansion teams.
The 2003 season saw a temporary end to the losing, when manager Tony Peña, in his first full season with the club, guided the Royals to their first winning record (83-79) since the 1994 season. He was named the American League Manager of the Year for his efforts and then shortstop Angel Berroa was named AL Rookie of the Year. The team spent a majority of the season in first, but ended up in third place behind the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, who won the AL Central.
Picked by many to win their division in 2004 after faring well in the free agent market, the Royals got off to a disappointing start and by late June were back in a rebuilding mode, releasing veteran reliever Curtis Leskanic before financial incentives kicked in and trading veteran reliever Jason Grimsley and superstar center fielder Carlos Beltrán for prospects, all within a week of each other. The team subsequently fell apart completely, establishing a new low by losing 104 games. The Royals did, however, see promising seasons from two rookies, center fielder David DeJesus and starting pitcher Zack Greinke. Among the many mistakes of 2004, was acquiring Juan Gonzalez, Benito Santiago, and keeping pitchers Darrell May and Brian Anderson, both of whom underachieved after a great 2003 season. They all were let go during the season or after the season's end.
In 2005, the Royals continued a youth movement, with one of the smallest payrolls in the Major Leagues. The Royals ended the 2005 season with a 56-106 record (.346), a full 43 games out of first place. It was the third time in four seasons that the team reestablished the mark for worst record in the history of the franchise. During that season, the Royals also suffered a franchise record 19-game losing streak highlighted by a three-game stretch of blowout losses at home from August 6 through August 9; in that stretch the Royals lost 16-1 to the Oakland Athletics, were shut out 11-0 by Oakland, and then in the third game, against the Cleveland Indians, built a 7-2 lead in the ninth inning before allowing 11 runs to lose 13-7. During the season manager Tony Peña quit and was replaced by interim manager Bob Schaefer until the Indians' bench coach Buddy Bell was chosen as the next manager.
Looking for a quick turnaround, general manager Allard Baird signed several veteran players prior to the 2006 season, including Doug Mientkiewicz, Mark Grudzielanek, Joe Mays and Scott Elarton. Nevertheless, the Royals struggled through another 100-loss season in 2006, becoming just the eleventh team in major league history to lose 100 games in three straight seasons. During the season Baird was fired as GM and replaced by Dayton Moore.
In the 2007 MLB Draft, the Royals selected shortstop Mike Moustakas at #2 overall, signing him minutes before the deadline. In June, the Royals had their first winning month since July 2003, and in July had their second consecutive winning month of the season. On August 1, manager Buddy Bell announced his intentions to resign following the 2007 season.On September 12, the Royals defeated the Minnesota Twins 6-3 to win their 63rd game, guaranteeing that they would not lose 100 games in 2007. The victory ended the team's string of three consecutive seasons of 100 losses or more from 2004-2006.
Kansas City's 2008 season began with the team searching for it's new manager after the departure of Buddy Bell. Early candidates to succeed Bell included Royals bench coach Billy Doran, former Royals stars George Brett (Brett denied his intentions) and Frank White, and Triple-A Omaha manager Mike Jirschele. Former Major League managers such as Joe Girardi, Jim Fregosi, Ken Macha, and Jimy Williams. Atlanta Braves coaches Terry Pendleton and Brian Snitker were also in consideration.. On October 19, the Royals hired Trey Hillman, former manager of the Nippon Ham Fighters and minor league manager of the New York Yankees, to be the 15th manager in franchise history.
As part of the Royals' "New. Blue. Tradition." motto, the Royals introduced a new rendition of their classic powder blue uniforms for the 2008 season. The team will wear the uniforms as alternates in weekend home games. The Royals previously wore powder blue uniforms from 1973 to 1991 in away games, and in 2008, the Royals will wear powder blue for the first time ever at Kauffman Stadium. The uniforms were introduced on December 6, 2007 at a special event for season ticket holders and were modeled by current players such as Alex Gordon and former players such as Frank White.
The Royals finished the 2008 season with a 75–87 record, the franchise's best since 2003. Closing pitcher Joakim Soria, the Royals' lone representative in the 2008 MLB All-Star Game, finished the year with 42 saves.
The Royals' most prominent rivalry is with the intrastate St. Louis Cardinals, stemming back to the Royals' victory over the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series. The series is still a source of contention among fans, notably the controversial call in the bottom of the ninth of game 6 in which Jorge Orta was called safe on a play that replays later showed him out. A Royals rally let them tie and later win the game and then later the series.
Interleague play in 1997 allowed the I-70 Series to be revived in non-exhibition games. The first few seasons of the series were rather even, with the Cardinals holding a slight advantage with a 14–13 record through the 2003 season. Through the 2008 season, the Cardinals hold the series advantage 28–23.
Retired by all
The Royals have retired the numbers of former players George Brett (#5) and Frank White (#20). Former manager Dick Howser's number (#10) was retired following his death in 1987. Former Brooklyn Dodgers player Jackie Robinson's number (#42) is retired throughout Major League Baseball.
|American League West Division|
|align="center"||90||72||.556|| align="center"||1st||1,680,265||20,744||Lost 1976 ALCS 2-3 (Yankees)|
|align="center"||102||60||.630|| align="center"||1st||1,852,603||22,872||Lost 1977 ALCS 2-3 (Yankees)|
|align="center"||92||70||.567|| align="center"||1st||2,255,493||27,846||Lost 1978 ALCS 1-3 (Yankees)|
|align="center"||97||65||.599|| align="center"||1st||2,288,714||28,256||Won 1980 ALCS 3-0 (Yankees)|
Lost 1980 World Series 2-4 (Phillies)
|5th (1st half)|
1st (2nd half)
|1,279,403||27,221||Lost 1981 ALDS 0-3 (Athletics)|
|align="center"||84||78||.519|| align="center"||1st||1,810,018||22,346||Lost 1984 ALCS 0-3 (Tigers)|
|align="center"||91||71||.562|| align="center"||1st||2,162,717||26,375||Won 1985 ALCS 4-3 (Blue Jays)|
Won 1985 World Series 4-3 (Cardinals)
|American League Central Division|
Meanwhile, the Royals have shut down Royals Sports Television Network, and the full television schedule of 140 games will air on FSN Kansas City, a newly-created branch of FSN Midwest, leaving no over-the-air broadcast outlet for the Royals this season. The announcers there will be Lefebvre, Paul Splittorff, and Frank White. Frank White fills in for Splittorff on a few games.
On February 22, 2007, Matthews was selected as the 2007 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for major contributions to baseball broadcasting.
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