As the Kansas Royals get ready to visit Citi Field for a weekend set with the Mets, it occurred to me that there is a whole generation of baseball fans out there, who weren’t even born when the Royals ruled the western division of the American League.
The 1975 Royals finished in second place, but the Royals from 1976-1978 won the western division. They also lost all three playoff series to the New York Yankees including one by that famous walk-off home run by Chris Chambliss in ’76.
In 1980, the Royals made their first World Series appearance, but they didn’t win a World Championship until 1985, when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals. It went all the way down to Game 7 and Bret Saberhagen pitched a complete game 5-hit shutout as the Royals pounded the Cards 11-0 to win it all.
Interestingly, the manager of the 1985 Royals was Dick Howser, who for years was a coach, and later manager for their rivals the New York Yankees.
The face of the Royals franchise at that time was their third baseman, George Brett. But Brett is only one of the many great names that played for the Royals.
Other memorable Royals included pitchers Dennis Leonard, Mark Littell, and Paul Splittorff. Darrell Porter was one of the catchers, and the infield included the likes of Big John Mayberry, Frank White, Freddie Patek, and even Cookie Rojas. The designated hitter was Hal McRae, and the outfield included Willie Wilson, Amos Otis and Al Cowens.
We have lots of Mets connections here with Saberhagen of course having pitched for the Mets, Rojas was a coach here. Amos Otis was one of those Mets we probably should have hung onto, and Hal McRae‘s son Brian was also a Met for a short while.
Former Met outfielder Carlos Beltran played for the Royals, but that was long after the Royals had fallen from prominence in the AL West. But yes, once upon a time, the Royals were a great team.