Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals were purchased as an expansion franchise by pharmaceutical magnate Ewing Kauffman in 1968 and played their first season the following year. The American League granted the expansion team to replace the Kansas City Athletics, who moved to Oakland after the 1967 season. Early Royals stars included 1969 Rookie of the Year Lou Piniella, Amos Otis, Paul Splittorff, Cookie Rojas and Hal McRae. In 1971, the Royals had their first winning season, with manager Bob Lemon guiding them to a second-place finish.
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. The Royals quickly became successful, winning three straight division championships from 1976 to 1978 under manager Whitey Herzog.
The Royals (led by manager Jim Frey) made their first World Series appearance in 1980, losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. That same year, Brett flirted with a .400 batting average and won his second batting title.
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.
The youth movement paid off more quickly than expected. Relying again on Brett's bat and the young pitching of Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza and Danny Jackson, the Royals won their fifth division championship in 1984 (although they were swept by the eventual World Champion Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series) and went all the way to the World Series again in 1985 under manager Dick Howser, beating the cross-state St. Louis Cardinals in the so-called I-70 Series in seven games.
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 sadly on June 17, 1987, Dick Howser passed away 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 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.
The 1993 death of Ewing Kauffman left the franchise without permanent ownership until Wal-Mart executive David Glass purchased the team for $96 million in 2000. Escalating salaries made it difficult for the Royals to keep their young stars, and the small-market club usually chose to trade players such as Kevin Appier, Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye, for whatever they could get rather than lose them to free agency.
Picked by many to win their division in 2004 after faring surprisingly well in the free agent market, the Royals got off to a disappointing start and by late June were in rebuilding mode, releasing veteran reliever Curt 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.
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 May 10, 2005 as manager after a 8-25 record. The Royals then named bench coach Bob Schaefer interim manager up until May 31, 2005, the day the Royals announced that Buddy Bell would manage for the Royals. Schaefer would end up having a 5-12 record in 17 games managed. After Bell's hiring, Schaefer was moved back to the bench coach position.
As if they could sink any lower, on August 9, the Royals had a 7-2 lead against the Cleveland Indians going into the 9th inning, but commited 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 (.354), the worst record in the franchise's history. They were 43 games out of first place.
- Founded: 1969 (American League expansion)
- Uniform colors: Royal Blue, black, and white
- Logo design: Entwined "KC" on a blue shield topped with a gold crown
- Playoff appearances (7): 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985
Minor league affiliations
- AAA: Omaha Royals, Pacific Coast League
- AA: Wichita Wranglers, Texas League
- Advanced A: High Desert Mavericks, California League
- A: Burlington Bees, Midwest League
- Rookie: AZL Royals, Arizona League
- Rookie: Idaho Falls Chukars, Pioneer League
- Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame
- I-70 Series - Royals-Cardinals rivalry
- Royals award winners and league leaders
- Royals statistical records and milestone achievements
- Royals players of note
- Royals broadcasters and media
- Royals managers and ownership