Kansas City Royals Information
When the Kansas City Athletics moved to Oakland after the 1967 season, Kansas City was left without professional baseball for the first and only time since 1883. An enraged Senator Stuart Symington threatened to introduce legislation removing baseball's antitrust exemption unless Kansas City was granted a team in the next round of expansion. MLB complied during the 1967 winter meetings, awarding one of four expansion teams to Kansas City to start play in 1971. Pharmaceutical executive Ewing Kauffman won the bidding for the new Kansas City team, which he named the Royals after the American Royal Livestock Show, which has been held in Kansas City every year since 1899.
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In 1973, the Royals moved from Kansas City Municipal Stadium to brand-new Royals Stadium (now Kauffman Stadium). The stadium, which featured deep outfield walls and artificial turf, gave future stars such as George Brett and Frank White their first break as many of Kansas City's veteran players had difficulty playing on turf. However, manager Whitey Herzog decided to replace those players (including Vada Pinson) for younger, quicker players (such as Frank White). The Royals quickly became successful, winning three straight division championships from 1976 to 1978 under manager Whitey Herzog. They lost to the New York Yankees in three straight American League Championship Series encounters.
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In 1983, the Royals were headed for a second-place finish behind the Chicago White Sox when they were rocked by a drug scandal. Leadoff hitter and center fielder Willie Wilson, power-hitting first baseman Willie Aikens, power-hitting outfielder Jerry Martin, and starting pitcher Vida Blue, who had been released on August 5, were charged with attempting to purchase cocaine. The four were charged in October 1983, pleaded guilty, spent three months in prison (becoming the first active players in sports history to serve a prison sentence) and were suspended by commissioner Bowie Kuhn for the entire 1984 season. The four appealed and were permitted to return on May 15. In response to the scandal, owner Ewing Kauffman founded the Ewing Marion Kauffman foundation to give back to the community, allowed Martin to depart via free agency and traded Aikens, retaining only Wilson's services.
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1987 proved to be a rather bittersweet season for the Royals. The Royals won 83 out of 162 games (a seven win improvement from 1986). The Royals wound up finishing only two games behind the eventual World Champion Minnesota Twins in the Western Division. But on June 17, 1987, Dick Howser died after a year long battle with brain cancer. Howser's #10 soon became the first number that the Royals ever retired.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Royals developed young stars such as Bo Jackson (the baseball & football All-Star) and Kevin Seitzer and made some free-agent acquisitions but always fell short of their early success. Most of the team's highlights 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 Brett's 3,000th hit.
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In 2005, the Royals continued their youth movement, with six of their starting position players, three of their five starting pitchers, and their setup man and closer all under age 30 and one of the smallest payrolls in the Major Leagues. After a disappointing start for the second straight season, Tony Peña resigned as manager on May 10, 2005 after the team posted a miserable 8-25 record. The Royals then named bench coach Bob Schaefer interim manager up until May 31, when Buddy Bell was named the new manager. Schaefer would end up having a 5-12 record in 17 games managed. He was moved back to the bench coach position after Bell's hiring.
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Realizing the need to push forward with rebuilding efforts, ex-general manager Allard Baird became somewhat busy in the 2005 off-season. He secured starting pitcher Mark Redman in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and signed another free agent starter in Scott Elarton. Baird also signed free agent second baseman Mark Grudzielanek (formerly of the cross-state St. Louis Cardinals), as well as first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz (formerly of the New York Mets). Backup catcher Paul Bako (formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers) was also signed to a contract. These new players were not only obtained in hope of shoring up the pitching rotation and infield but also to create a positive environment in which the younger players in the Royals clubhouse could further hone their skills. Then, on December 23, Baird filled a hole in the outfield by signing veteran Reggie Sanders (another former Cardinal) to a two-year, $10 million deal, and added another pitcher by inking Joe Mays to a one-year pact. Although these additions seemed promising, the effect the players had was minimal in terms of wins for the Royals. Due to a lack of consistency in both pitching and hitting, the Royals continued to struggle in the 2006 season and look to be on the way to another losing season. The main problem cited for the lack of winning seasons for the Royals in the past few years is the lack of financial support by the current owner, David Glass. Glass refuses to spend on player development.
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On May 31, 2006, after weeks of speculation, the Royals fired general manager Allard Baird following a major-league worst 13-37 start, and announced that Atlanta Braves assistant general manager Dayton Moore would be the team's new GM. Muzzy Jackson was the interim GM for the Royals, including handling duties during the first-year player draft, until Moore took over on June 8, 2006. Moore did not take over until after the draft because of a conflict of interest, as he had been involved in helping the Braves prepare for the draft.
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As if they could sink any lower, on August 9, the Royals had a 7-2 lead against the Cleveland Indians going into the ninth inning, but committed three errors allowing the Indians to score 11 runs to win 13-7, extending their historic losing streak to 11 games. The Royals ended their losing streak at 19 on August 20, 2005, 2 losses away from the American League record with a 2-1 win over the Oakland Athletics. They would have had to lose for fully another week to have a shot at dubious immortality. Unfortunately, they still ended the season 56-106 (.346), a full 43 games out of first place. It was the worst record ever posted in the history of the franchise.
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The Royals also faced controversy off the field, when they revoked the credentials of two radio journalists present at the press conference introducing Moore. The two personalities—Bob Fescoe of WHB and Rhonda Moss of KCSP—primarily asked pointed questions toward Glass over the firing of Baird. The aftermath included less than positive commentary from other media outlets in the metro and a statement from the Society of Professional Journalists calling for the reinstatement of their credentials. In response, the Royals started a Weblog, whose first entry defended the organization's decision.