Kansas City Royals
|Kansas City Royals|
|2021 Kansas City Royals season|
|Established in 1969|
|Major league affiliations|
|Major league titles|
|World Series titles (2)|
|AL Pennants (4)|
|Central Division titles (1)||2015|
|West Division titles (6)|
|Wild card berths (1)||2014|
|Principal owner(s)||John Sherman|
|General manager||J. J. Picollo|
The Kansas City Royals are an American professional baseball team based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) Central division. The team was founded as an expansion franchise in 1969, and has played in four World Series, winning in 1985 and 2015, and losing in 1980 and 2014.
The name "Royals" pays homage to the American Royal, a livestock show, horse show, rodeo, and championship barbeque competition held annually in Kansas City since 1899, as well as the identical names of two former Negro league baseball teams that played in the first half of the 20th century. (One a semi-pro team based in Kansas City in the 1910s and 1920s that toured the Midwest and a California Winter League team based in Los Angeles in the 1940s that was managed by Chet Brewer and included Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson on its roster.) The Los Angeles team had personnel connections to the Monarchs but could not use the Monarchs name. The name also fits into something of a theme for other professional sports franchises in the city, including the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL, the former Kansas City Kings of the NBA, and the former Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro National League.
In 1968, the team held a name-the-team contest that received more than 17,000 entries. Sanford Porte, a bridge engineer from the suburb of Overland Park, Kansas, was named the winner for his “Royals” entry. His reason had nothing to do with royalty. “Kansas City’s new baseball team should be called the Royals because of Missouri’s billion-dollar livestock income, Kansas City’s position as the nation’s leading stocker and feeder market and the nationally known American Royal parade and pageant,” Porte wrote. The team's board voted 6–1 on the name, with the only opposition coming from team owner Ewing Kauffman, who eventually changed his vote and said the name had grown on him.
Entering the American League in 1969 along with the Seattle Pilots, the club was founded by Kansas City businessman Ewing Kauffman. The franchise was established following the actions of Stuart Symington, then-U.S. Senator from Missouri, who demanded a new franchise for the city after the Athletics (Kansas City's previous major league team that played from 1955 to 1967) moved to Oakland, California in 1968. Since April 10, 1973, the Royals have played at Kauffman Stadium, formerly known as Royals Stadium.
The new team quickly became a powerhouse, appearing in the playoffs seven times from 1976 to 1985, winning one World Series championship and another AL pennant, led by stars such as Amos Otis, Hal McRae, John Mayberry, George Brett, Frank White, Willie Wilson, and Bret Saberhagen. The team remained competitive throughout the early 1990s, but then had only one winning season from 1995 to 2012. For 28 consecutive seasons (1986–2013), the Royals did not qualify to play in the MLB postseason, one of the longest postseason droughts during baseball's current wild-card era. The team broke this streak in 2014 by securing the franchise's first wild card berth and advancing to the 2014 World Series, where they lost to the San Francisco Giants in seven games. The Royals followed this up by winning the team's first AL Central division title in 2015 and defeating the New York Mets in five games in the 2015 World Series to win their second World Series championship.
Through 2021, the Royals have an all time win-loss record of 4,001–4,344 (.479).
Baseball returns to Kansas City
When the Kansas City Athletics moved to Oakland after the 1967 season, Kansas City was left without major league baseball or, for the first time since 1883, professional baseball at all. An enraged Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri threatened to introduce legislation removing baseball's antitrust exemption unless Kansas City was granted a team in the next round of expansion. Major League Baseball complied with a hasty round of expansion at the 1967 winter meetings. Kansas City was awarded one of four teams to begin play in 1971. However, Symington was not satisfied with having Kansas City wait three years for baseball to return, and pressured MLB to allow the new teams to start play in 1969. Symington's intervention may have contributed to the financial collapse of the Royals' companion expansion team, the Seattle Pilots, who had to begin play in 1969 before they were ready (the league required new franchises to enter in pairs to preserve symmetry for scheduling purposes).
Pharmaceutical executive Ewing Kauffman won the bidding for the new Kansas City team. He conducted a contest to determine the best and most appropriate name for the new franchise. Sanford Porte from Overland Park, Kansas submitted the name Royals, in recognition of Missouri's billion-dollar livestock industry. His suggestion was that the American Royal best exemplified Kansas City through its pageantry and parade, so the new team should be named the Royals. The name was selected out of 17,000 submissions and the Royals Board voted 6–1 to adopt the name. The one dissenting vote was Mr Kauffman's. He eventually changed his mind after the name grew on him. (Some sources say it was in honor of the Kansas City Monarchs, a Negro leagues team.) The team's logo, a crown atop a shield with the letters "KC" inside the shield, was created by Shannon Manning, an artist at Hallmark Cards, based in Kansas City.
1969–1979: Taking Off
The Royals began play in 1969 in Kansas City, Missouri. In their inaugural game, on April 8, 1969, the Royals defeated the Minnesota Twins 4–3 in 12 innings. The Royals went 69–93 in their first season, highlighted by Lou Piniella, who won the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
The team was quickly built through a number of trades engineered by its first General Manager, Cedric Tallis, who picked up center fielder Amos Otis, who became the team's first great star, first baseman John Mayberry, who provided power, second baseman Cookie Rojas, shortstop Fred Patek, designated hitter Hal McRae, and others. The Royals also invested in a strong farm system and soon developed such future stars as pitchers Paul Splittorff, Dennis Leonard, and Steve Busby, infielders George Brett and Frank White, and outfielder Al Cowens. Under these young players, the Royals started to build a young core set up for future success.
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).
The 1973 All-Star Game was hosted at Royals Stadium, with Otis and Mayberry in the AL starting lineup. The event was previously held at Municipal Stadium in 1960, when the Athletics were based in Kansas City.
Manager Whitey Herzog replaced McKeon in 1975, and the Royals quickly became the dominant franchise in the American League's Western Division. After a second-place, 91 win season, they won three straight division championships from 1976 to 1978, including the franchise's only 100-win season in 1977. However, the Royals lost to the New York Yankees in three straight American League Championship Series encounters.
1980–1984: From Pennant to Pine Tar Incident
After the Royals finished in second place in 1979, Herzog was fired and replaced by Jim Frey. Under Frey and a legendary .390 season from George Brett, the Royals rebounded in 1980 and advanced to the ALCS, where they again faced the Yankees. The Royals vanquished the Yankees in a three-game sweep punctuated by Brett's home run off of Yankees' star relief pitcher Goose Gossage. After reaching their first World Series, the Royals fell to the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. Game 6 was also significant because it remains the most-watched game in World Series history with a television audience of 54.9 million viewers.
In July 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 New York 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 two-run home run off Gossage that put the Royals up 5–4 in the top of the 9th. After Yankee Manager Billy Martin came out of the dugout to talk to home plate umpire Tim McClelland, McClelland and the other umpires mulled over the bat (measuring it over home plate, touching it, etc.). McClelland then pointed to Brett in the dugout and gave the "out" sign, disallowing the home run. Enraged, Brett stormed out of the dugout toward McClelland and Martin, and McClelland ejected Brett. The homer was later reinstated by AL President Lee MacPhail, and the Royals won the game after it was resumed several weeks later.
The 1983 season was also notable for some transitional changes in the Royals organization. First, owner Ewing Kauffman sold 49% of his interest to Memphis developer Avron Fogelman. Second, John Schuerholz was named general manager. Schuerholz soon bolstered the farm system with pitchers Bud Black, Danny Jackson, Mark Gubicza, David Cone, and Bret Saberhagen, as well as hitters such as Kevin Seitzer.
Thanks to the sudden and surprising maturation (specifically, in pitching) of most of the aforementioned players, the Royals won their fifth division championship in 1984, relying on Brett's bat and the young pitching staff of Saberhagen, Gubicza, Charlie Leibrandt, Black and 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.
1985: "The I-70 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 and George Brett's self-described best "all around year." Throughout the ensuing playoffs, the Royals came back from 2–0 and 3–1 deficits, but managed to win the Series. In game three, with KC down 2 games to 0, George Brett homered twice and doubled off the fence in right field to put Kansas City back into the series. With the Royals down three games to one in the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Royals eventually rallied to win the series 4–3.
1985 World Series
In the 1985 World Series (nicknamed the "I-70 Series" because the two teams are both located in the state of Missouri and connected by Interstate 70) against the cross-state St. Louis Cardinals, the Royals again fell behind, three games to one. After Danny Jackson pitched the Royals to a 6–1 win in game five, the Cardinals and Royals headed back to Kansas City for game six. Facing elimination, the Royals trailed 1–0 in the bottom of the 9th inning, when Jorge Orta led off, hitting a bouncing ground ball to Cardinals 1st basemen Jack Clark, who flipped the ball back to pitcher Todd Worrell at first base. The ball beat Orta to the bag, but umpire Don Denkinger called him safe, and following a dropped popup by Clark and a pass ball the Royals rallied to score two runs, winning on a walk-off single from pinch hitter Dane Iorg to send the series to game seven. In game seven Bret Saberhagen shutout the Cardinals as Kansas City dominated the Cardinals 11–0, clinching their first title in franchise history.
1986–1994: Staying in the Picture
The Royals maintained a reputation as one of the American League West's top teams throughout the late 1980s. The club posted a winning record in three of the four seasons following its 1985 World Series championship, while developing young stars such as Bo Jackson, Tom Gordon, and Kevin Seitzer. The Royals finished the 1989 season with a 92–70 record (third-best in the major leagues) but did not qualify for the playoffs, finishing second in their division behind the eventual World Series champion Oakland Athletics.
At the end of the 1989 season, the team boasted a powerhouse pitching rotation, including the AL Cy Young Award-winner Bret Saberhagen (who set franchise record 23 wins that year), two-time All-Star Mark Gubicza (a 15-game winner in 1989) and 1989 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up Tom Gordon (who won 17 games that year). But the organization felt it was still missing a few necessary pieces to give its divisional rival Oakland Athletics a run for their money. So prior to the 1990 season, the Royals acquired Mark Davis, the 1989 National League Cy Young Award-winner and league leader in saves, signing him to a 4-year, $13 million contract (the largest annual salary in baseball history at the time). The Royals also signed starting pitcher Storm Davis, who was coming off a career-high 19-game win season (third-best in the AL), to a three-year $6 million contract. Despite the promising off-season moves, the team suffered critical bullpen injuries while both newly signed Davises experienced lackluster seasons in 1990. The Royals concluded the season with a 75–86 record, in second-to-last place in the AL West (and with the worst franchise record since 1970). Bo Jackson—the team's potential future franchise player—suffered a devastating hip injury while playing football in the off-season, so the Royals waived him during spring training in 1991.
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. With no playoff appearances despite the winning records during this era, many of the team's highlights instead centered around the end of George 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.
In 1994, the Royals moved from the AL West to the newly-created AL Central along with the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, joined by the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers from the AL East. The Brewers left for the NL Central in 1998, replaced by the Detroit Tigers that moved from the AL East.
1995–2002: Decline in the Post-Kauffman Era
At the start of the 1990s, the Royals had been hit with a double-whammy when General Manager John Schuerholz departed in 1990 and team owner Ewing Kauffman died in 1993. Shortly before Kauffman's death, he set up an unprecedented complex succession plan to keep the team in Kansas City. The team was donated at his death to the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation and Affiliated Trusts with operating decisions of the team decided by a five-member group chaired by Wal-Mart executive David Glass. According to the plan the Royals had six years to find a local owner for the team before opening ownership to an outside bidder. The new owners would be required to say they would keep the team in Kansas City. Kauffman had feared that new owners would move it noting, "No one would want to buy a baseball team that consistently loses millions of dollars and had little prospect of making money because it was in a small city." If no owner could be found the Kauffman restrictions were to end on January 1, 2002, and the team was to be sold to the highest bidder. In 1999, New York City lawyer and minor league baseball owner Miles Prentice, vowing not to move the team, bid $75 million for the team. This was the minimum amount Kauffman had stipulated the team could be sold for. MLB rejected Prentice's first bid without specifying any reason. In a final round of bids on March 13, 2000, the Foundation voted to accept Glass' bid of $96 million, rejecting Prentice's revised bid of $115 million.
During the interregnum under Foundation ownership, the team declined. In the 1994 season, the Royals reduced payroll by trading pitcher David Cone and outfielder Brian McRae, then continued their salary dump in the 1995 season. The team payroll, which had previously remained among the league's highest, was sliced in half from $40.5 million in 1994 (fourth-highest in the major leagues) to $18.5 million in 1996 (second-lowest in the major leagues).
As attendance slid and the average MLB salary continued to rise, rather than pay higher salaries or lose their players to free agency, the Royals traded their remaining stars such as Kevin Appier, Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye. By 1999, the team's payroll had fallen again to $16.5 million. 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 Milwaukee Brewers made the switch instead.
2003: A Winning Season
The 2003 season saw a temporary end to the losing, when manager Tony Peña, in his first full season with the club, guided the team to its first winning record (83–79) since 1994 and finished in third place in the AL Central. He was named the American League Manager of the Year for his efforts and shortstop Ángel Berroa was named AL Rookie of the Year.
2004–2008: Rock Bottom
From the 2004 season through the 2012 season, the Royals posted nine consecutive losing records, the longest streak in team history. In six of those seasons, the team finished in last place in the American League Central, and in eight of those nine seasons the team lost at least 90 games. The worst seasons came in 2004–2006, when the Royals lost at least 100 games each year and set the franchise's all-time record for losses (56–106 in 2005).
Picked by many[who?] 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 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, losing 104 games and breaking the franchise record set just two years earlier. The Royals did, however, see promising seasons from two rookies, center fielder David DeJesus and starting pitcher Zack Greinke. The team continued a youth movement in 2005, but finished with a 56–106 record (.346), a full 43 games out of first place, marking the third time in four seasons that the team reestablished the mark for worst record in franchise history. The season also saw the Royals lose 19 games in a row, a franchise record. 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.
Kansas City entered the 2007 season looking to rebound from four out of five seasons ending with at least 100 losses. The Royals outbid the Cubs and Blue Jays for free agent righty Gil Meche, signing him to a five-year, $55 million contract, the largest contract in Royals history. Reliever Octavio Dotel also inked a one-year, $5 million contract. The team also added several new prospects, including Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. Among Dayton Moore's first acts as General Manager was instating a new motto for the team: "True. Blue. Tradition." In June 2007, the Royals had their first winning month since July 2003 and followed it up with a winning July. The Royals finished the season 69–93, but 2007 marked the club's first season with fewer than 100 losses since 2003. Manager Buddy Bell resigned following the 2007 season.
The Royals hired Trey Hillman, formerly the manager of the Nippon Ham Fighters and a minor league manager with the New York Yankees, to be the 15th manager in franchise history. The 2008 season began with the release of fan-favorite Mike Sweeney and the trade of Ángel Berroa to the Dodgers. Through 13 games in 2008, the Royals were 8–5 and in first place in the AL Central, a vast improvement over their start from the previous season. However, by the All-Star break, the Royals were again in losing territory, with their record buoyed only by a 13–5 record in interleague play, the best in the American League. The team finished the season in fourth place in the division with a 75–87 record.
2009–2012: Kauffman Renovations and Further Rebuilding
Prior to the 2009 season, the Royals renovated Kauffman Stadium, and after the season began, the Royals ended April at the top of the AL Central, both of which raised excitement levels among fans. However, the team faded as the season progressed and finished the year with a final record of 65–97, in a tie for fourth place in the AL Central. The season was highlighted by starter Zack Greinke, who did not allow an earned run in the first 24 innings of the season, went on to finish the year with a Major League-leading 2.16 earned run average, and won the American League Cy Young Award. Greinke joined Bret Saberhagen (in 1985 and 1989) and David Cone (in 1994) as only the third player in Royals history to receive the award.
The Royals began the 2010 season with a rocky start, and after the team's record fell to 12–23, manager Trey Hillman was fired. Former Milwaukee Brewers skipper Ned Yost took over as the 16th manager in franchise history, At the end of the 2010 season, the Royals finished with a 67–95 record, in last place in the division for the sixth time in seven years. The Royals also set a dubious franchise record during the season, allowing 42 runs in a three-day span from July 25 to 27. The Royals began 2011 with a hot start, compiling 10–4 record after 14 games, but success faded as the season progressed. The Royals last had a .500 record at 22–22, and by the All-Star break, the Royals had a record of 37–54, the worst in the American League. Almost all of the Royals' bullpen was made up of 2011 minor league call ups, in addition to the infielders Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Johnny Giavotella, and catchers Salvador Pérez and Manny Piña. Hosmer won the AL Rookie of the Month award in July and September and finished the season with 19 home runs. Moustakas collected a fifteen-game hitting streak, which tied the longest such streak by a Royals rookie. The Royals finished the 2011 season with a 71–91 record, in fourth place in the AL Central. The 2012 team saw more of the same, as they improved by one game to 72–90, but finished one spot better in the division.
The 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was hosted by the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on July 10, 2012 (in addition to the 2012 Home Run Derby, All-Star Futures Game and Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game during the All-Star break), which the National League won 8–0. The 2012 season marked the third time the "Midsummer Classic" was held in Kansas City.
2013: Return to Respectability
On December 10, 2012, in an attempt to strengthen the pitching staff (which was among the worst in baseball in 2012), the Royals traded for Rays pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis, giving Tampa top prospects Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard in return. This trade helped catalyze a return to winning records.
For most of the 2013 season, the Royals hovered near .500. The team also did not commit an error in its first seven games (for 64+2⁄3 innings) for the first time in team history. On September 22, the Royals won their 82nd game of the season to clinch the franchise's first winning season since 2003. The Royals finished the season 86–76 and in third place in the AL Central, securing the team's best winning percentage since 1994.
2014: Return to the World Series
The 2014 season was even more successful, featuring a return to the postseason for the first time in 29 years, and what would unfold as a historic playoff run from the Wild Card all the way to the 2014 World Series.
Entering the 2014 season, the Royals had the longest playoff drought of any team in the four main American professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA). On July 21, 2014, the Royals had a losing record (48–50) and were eight games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central standings. But spurred by a 22–5 record from July 22 to August 19 coinciding with a mediocre 12–15 stretch by the Tigers, the team surged into first place in the AL Central. The Royals reached the top of the division standings on August 11, after winning their eighth game in a row. This marked the latest date the Royals had led their division since August 29, 2003. The team retained its division lead for a month, before falling out of first-place permanently on September 12. They finished the 2014 regular season with a record 89–73, still the most wins for the Royals since 1989. Though the team finished one game behind Detroit in the AL Central, the Royals secured their first-ever wild card berth.
After qualifying for the postseason, the Royals embarked on a record-setting eight-game winning streak. They hosted the Oakland Athletics in the 2014 American League Wild Card Game and won 9–8 on a Salvador Pérez walk-off single in the 12th inning, having earlier rallied back from a 7–3 deficit in the eighth. The Royals then swept the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 2014 American League Division Series. In Game 1 of the ALDS, the score was 2–2 going into the 11th inning, when Mike Moustakas hit a game-winning solo home run. The next day, Kansas City beat the Angels 4–1 in another extra-innings affair, in the process setting an MLB postseason record of three straight extra-inning wins. The Royals then completed the sweep at home, winning 8–3 in game three and advancing to the 2014 American League Championship Series against the Baltimore Orioles.
In the opening game of the ALCS on October 11, 2014, the Royals defeated the Orioles 8–6, with two home runs in the 10th inning. Thus, in eight extra innings over five postseason games in 2014, they succeeded in hitting four homers in extra innings, more than any team in the history of Major League Baseball. In the second ALCS game, the Royals again beat the Orioles 6–4, behind Lorenzo Cain's four hits, including an RBI single. After game three, the ALCS was delayed one day due to rainy weather, when the Royals hosted the Orioles at Kauffman Stadium on October 14, 2014. Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie allowed only one run as KC beat the Orioles 2–1, taking a 3–0 lead in the series. In game four, the Royals completed the sweep of the Orioles with another 2–1 win to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1985. The win marked the team's eighth consecutive postseason win in one year, breaking a major league record previously held by the Colorado Rockies in 2007 and Cincinnati Reds in 1976. It also marked the Royals' 11th win in a row overall in postseason play, dating back to the franchise's final three wins of the 1985 Series, the third-longest multi-year postseason streak in baseball history.
After setting an AL record by winning eight straight games to reach the World Series, the Royals opened the series by losing 7–1 in the first game against starter Madison Bumgarner. The Royals bounced back with a 7–2 win in game two to tie the series at 1–1. The Royals won game three in San Francisco 3–2 to take the series lead for the first time. In game four, the Royals lost 11–4, which tied the series with the Giants. In game five, they lost 5–0 to the Giants against starter Madison Bumgarner. In game six, the Royals beat the Giants 10–0. In game seven, the Royals started Jeremy Guthrie against Giants pitcher Tim Hudson. Guthrie lasted 3+1⁄3 innings before he was replaced by Kelvin Herrera, who himself lasted 2+2⁄3 innings. He was then replaced by Wade Davis, who pitched in two innings. Closer Greg Holland ended the game. On the Giants side, Hudson lasted only 1+2⁄3 innings before he was replaced by Jeremy Affeldt, who was later replaced by Madison Bumgarner. The Royals lost game seven, 3–2, with the tying run (Alex Gordon) on third base in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, when Salvador Pérez fouled out to Pablo Sandoval to end the game and the series.
2015: World Series Champions
After earning a wild card entry to the playoffs in 2014, in 2015, the Royals won the franchise's first division title since 1985 and first Central division title ever. The Royals went on to win the 2015 World Series – the first championship for the Royals since 1985 – beating the New York Mets four games to one.
The Royals entered the 2015 All-Star break with the best record in the American League at 52–34. The team continued its momentum into the second half of the season, and on July 26, Royals management traded three prospects Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed for 2014 All-Star pitcher Johnny Cueto to help bolster its starting pitching rotation, as well as trading two pitchers to the Oakland Athletics for super-utility player Ben Zobrist. The team ended the regular season with a record of 95–67, the best in the entire American League, and the organization's best record since 1980.
The Royals faced the Houston Astros in the ALDS. Down 2–1 in the series and trailing 6–2 in the 8th inning of Game 4, the Royals rallied for 5 runs en route to a 9–6 win before Cueto's gem in Game 5 powered the Royals to a second consecutive ALCS. The Royals defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 6, to win the 2015 ALCS and earn a trip to face the New York Mets in the 2015 World Series.
The Royals beat the New York Mets 4 games to 1 to become the 2015 World Series champions. It was the Royals' first World Series title since 1985. The series win was sealed after the Royals beat the Mets 7–2 in the 12th inning of Game 5. The Royals rallied in the 9th inning down 2–0 to tie the score 2–2, forcing the game into extra innings. The five-run 12th inning was initiated by a Salvador Pérez single, with Jarrod Dyson pinch-running for him. This was followed by a single from Christian Colon and doubles from both Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain, scoring runs from Jarrod Dyson, Colon, Paulo Orlando (who reached base on an error by Daniel Murphy), Escobar and Ben Zobrist (who was intentionally walked). Wade Davis, who hadn't allowed a run yet that postseason, closed out the game with a flawless 12th, allowing one hit and striking out Wilmer Flores to end the game and win the World Series for the Royals. Upon conclusion of the final game, catcher Salvador Perez was named World Series MVP.
2016–2017: End of an Era
The Royals followed up their World Series victory with an underachieving, injury-riddled campaign in 2016. The Royals had an inconsistent season in which they ultimately finished 81–81, third place in the division and out of playoff contention. This season is notable for the debut of future star Whit Merrifield. The 2017 season marked the end of the World Series core: pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident on January 22, and the Royals wore patches that said 'ACE 30' on their jerseys for the 2017 season to honor him; Wade Davis was traded in the offseason. In 2017, the Royals finished similarly to 2016 at 80–82, third place in the division, and missed the playoffs for a second consecutive year. Stars Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer became free agents after the season and signed contracts with the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres, respectively.
2018–present: Another Rebuild and Selling of the Team
Although Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain left in free agency, the Royals were able to re-sign Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar. In 2018, the team started a new rebuild, trading Moustakas mid-season for prospects, and giving playing time to young players like Adalberto Mondesi, Ryan O'Hearn, and Brad Keller. Despite this, the team finished with only 58 wins, the team's lowest win total since 2005. The 2018 season also marked the emergence of Whit Merrifield as a star, as he led the MLB in hits (192) and stolen bases (45).
On June 3, 2019, the Royals selected Bobby Witt Jr. with the second pick in the MLB draft. Widely considered one of the top prospects in baseball, Witt is regarded as one of the biggest prospects to be drafted by Kansas City since Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.
On August 30, 2019, it was announced that John Sherman, a minority owner of the Cleveland Indians, had agreed to purchase the team from David Glass for a reported amount of $1 billion. In September, manager Ned Yost announced that he would retire at the end of the season after ten seasons and a franchise-record 746 wins. The Royals finished the 2019 season one game better than 2018, at 59–103. Whit Merrifield once again led the league in hits, while Jorge Soler led the American League with 48 home runs and three Royals players paced the league in triples (Mondesi, Merrifield and Hunter Dozier, with 10 apiece). On October 31, 2019, the Royals announced the hiring of former St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny to replace Ned Yost. In 2020, the season was shortened to 60 games because of the COVID-19 pandemic; the Royals finished with a 26-34 record (an 0.433 winning percentage), good for fourth place in the AL Central. Overall in 2021, the Royals finished with a 74-88 record (an 0.457 winning percentage), landing in fourth place in the AL Central but seeing improvement over both 2019 and 2020, as catcher Salvador Pérez led MLB in both home runs and runs batted in and Bobby Witt Jr. continued to emerge as one of the top prospects in Minor League Baseball.
1969–72: Original look
The Royals' home uniform remained almost unchanged from its first season. The original design featured blue arm and neck piping, along with "Royals" in blue and in script lettering. The road uniform mirrored that of the home uniform, with "Kansas City" written in blue, in script lettering and in an arch arrangement. For the 1971 season the "Kansas City" on the road uniforms were changed to block lettering, while both uniforms added a roundel containing the team logo on the left sleeve. The blue cap with "KC" stitched in front was also introduced and remained in use today.
1973–82: Pullover and powder blue uniforms
The Royals switched to pullover uniforms for the 1973 season. While the home uniform did not deviate much from its original design, the road uniform changed to a powder blue base and white letters. Names were added in the 1978 season.
The Royals returned to wearing buttoned uniforms for the 1983 season. The most notable change came on the powder blue uniform, where "Royals" in script replaced "Kansas City". Both uniforms added numbers on the left chest.
1992–2001: Return to grey uniforms and alternate blue uniforms
For the 1992 season, the Royals resumed wearing grey uniforms on the road, but the uniforms retained the "Royals" script and letters in blue with white trim. In 1994 a blue alternate uniform was introduced, with "Royals" script and letters in white. The following season, the road uniforms were tweaked to feature "Kansas City" in block letters, while neck piping was removed. A grey cap with blue brim and "KC" in blue was also used for a few games.
2002–2005: Addition of black
Before the 2002 season, the Royals added black to the color scheme, and this was also reflected on the team's uniforms. Initially, the home uniforms were only updated to remove blue piping and include black drop shadows, but in 2003, the Royals went with sleeveless uniforms with blue undershirts. The grey uniforms also removed the sleeves and piping, and were paired with black undershirts and a black cap with blue brim. Letters were also given black drop shadows. The Royals also went with a black alternate uniform, featuring blue piping and "Royals" written in blue with white trim. The sleeve patch was updated without the roundel on the home and blue alternate uniforms, while a new "Royals" roundel logo was placed on the grey undershirt and black alternates.
2006–present: New alternates and return to powder blue
In 2006, black was eliminated from the uniforms, and the Royals returned to wearing sleeved uniforms with arm piping. The road uniforms brought back the "Kansas City" script, albeit written diagonally, with a slight adjustment in size prior to the 2012 season. For a few games in 2006, the black uniforms were used, albeit with the "Kansas City" script, before it was retired. In 2008, the Royals introduced a new powder blue alternate with "Royals" in blue with white trim, and letters in white with blue trim; the color lettering scheme in front was reversed starting in 2012. The uniforms were briefly paired with a powder blue cap with blue brim in 2010.
Powder blue was added as a trim color when the Royals issued a new blue alternate in 2014. The "KC" insignia replaced "Royals" and the number in front, while piping was added. After winning the 2015 World Series, the Royals began wearing an alternate white uniform, featuring "Royals" in metallic gold with blue trim. In 2017, the uniform was updated with the team name in blue with gold trim, and numbers in gold and blue trim. A new blue cap with "KC" in gold was paired with this uniform.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Royals' most prominent rivalry is with the intrastate St. Louis Cardinals. For geographic reasons, the teams long played exhibition games, but a true rivalry began with the Royals' victory over the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series, known as the "I-70 Series." Notably, the manager for the Cardinals in the series was Whitey Herzog, who had been the Royals' manager from 1975 to 1979, and led Kansas City to the franchise's first three playoff appearances – in 1976, 1977, and 1978 – before getting fired just shortly after the Royals were eliminated from the playoffs in 1979. 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 2019 season, the Cardinals hold the series advantage 62–42.
From 1976 to 1980, the Royals faced the New York Yankees four times in five years in the American League Championship Series. The Yankees won in 1976, 1977 and 1978, while the Royals won in 1980. In a 2013 article about the 1983 Pine Tar Incident involving the two teams, Lou Pinella said: "As a team, we didn't really like Kansas City. We had played them in the '76, '77 and '78 postseason and beaten them every time. There was no love lost between the teams. We didn't like each other. They were our big rivals..." George Brett agreed: "I hated everyone on the Yankees, I really did. I hated 'em all, back in that era."
Baseball Hall of Famers
|Kansas City Royals Hall of Famers|
|Affiliation according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum|
Ford C. Frick Award recipients
|Kansas City Royals Ford C. Frick Award recipients|
|Affiliation according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum|
Other players of note
Missouri Sports Hall of Fame
|Kansas City Royals in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame|
|–||Ewing Kauffman||Founder/Owner||1969–1993||Born near Garden City, grew up in Kansas City|
|2, 37||Fred Patek||SS||1971–1979|
|4, 7||Alex Gordon||LF||2007–2020|
|5, 25||George Brett||3B/DH/1B||1973–1993|
|6, 19, 32||Willie Wilson||CF/LF||1976–1990|
|8, 22||Jim Eisenreich||OF||1987–1992|
|8, 15, 28||Mike MacFarlane||C||1987–1994
|15||Darrell Porter||C||1977–1980||Born in Joplin|
|9, 10, 18||Jamie Quirk||C||1975–1976
|19, 20||Frank White||2B||1973–1990||Attended Longview Community College in Lee's Summit|
|29, 40||Vince Coleman||LF||1994–1995|
|25, 34||Paul Splittorff||SP||1970–1984|
The Royals have retired the numbers of former players George Brett (No. 5) and Frank White (No. 20). Former manager Dick Howser's No. 10 was retired following his death in 1987. Former Brooklyn Dodgers player Jackie Robinson's No. 42 is retired throughout Major League Baseball.
Out of circulation, but not retired
Hall of Fame
|Bold||Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the Royals|
|Bold||Recipient of the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award|
|Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame|
|25, 34||Paul Splittorff||SP||1970–1984|
|32, 37||Larry Gura||SP||1976–1985|
|2, 37||Freddie Patek||SS||1971–1979|
|1993||—||Ewing Kauffman||Owner and tributary of name of Kauffman Stadium||1969–1993|
|1994||5, 25||George Brett||3B/DH/1B||1973–1993|
|1995||19, 20||Frank White||2B||1973–1990|
|1996||—||Muriel Kauffman||Executive and wife of Ewing||1969–1995|
|6, 19, 32||Willie Wilson||CF/LF||1976–1990|
|2004||—||Denny Matthews||Radio announcer||1969–present|
|2005||18, 31||Bret Saberhagen||SP||1984–1991|
|2011||17, 55||Kevin Appier||SP||1989–1999|
Statistics current through December 1, 2018
Minor league affiliations
- Highest batting average: .390, George Brett (1980)
- Most games: 162, Al Cowens (1977), Hal McRae (1977), Carlos Beltrán (2002), Billy Butler (2013), Alcides Escobar (2014, 2016), Whit Merrifield (2019), Jorge Soler (2019)
- Most runs: 136, Johnny Damon (2000)
- Most hits: 230, Willie Wilson (1980)
- Highest slugging %: .664, George Brett (1980)
- Most doubles: 54, Hal McRae (1977)
- Most triples: 21, Willie Wilson (1985)
- Most home runs: 48, Jorge Soler (2019)
- Most grand slams: 3, Danny Tartabull (1988)
- Most RBIs: 144, Mike Sweeney (2000)
- Most stolen bases: 83, Willie Wilson (1979)
- Most wins: 23, Bret Saberhagen (1989)
- Lowest ERA: 2.08, Roger Nelson (1972)
- Strikeouts: 244, Dennis Leonard (1977)
- Most strikeouts, single game: 16, Danny Duffy (2016)
- Most strikeouts, Reliever: 109, Wade Davis (2014)
- Complete games: 21, Dennis Leonard (1977)
- Shutouts: 6, Roger Nelson (1972)
- Saves: 47, Greg Holland (2013)
- Highest batting average: .306, Jose Offerman
- Most games: 2,707, George Brett
- Most runs: 1,583, George Brett
- Most hits: 3,154, George Brett
- Highest Slugging %: .518, Danny Tartabull
- Most doubles: 665, George Brett
- Most triples: 137, George Brett
- Most home runs: 317, George Brett
- Most RBIs: 1,596, George Brett
- Most stolen bases: 612, Willie Wilson
- Most wins: 166, Paul Splittorff
- Lowest ERA: 2.55, Dan Quisenberry
- Strikeouts: 1,458, Kevin Appier
- Complete games: 103, Dennis Leonard
- Shutouts: 23, Dennis Leonard
- Saves: 304, Jeff Montgomery
Radio and television
As of 2012[update], the Royals affiliate radio station is KCSP 610AM, the station having entered into a new four-year deal starting from the 2015 season. The radio announcers are Denny Matthews and Ryan Lefebvre, with Steve Stewart and Steve Physioc.
Televised games are aired on Bally Sports Kansas City, a branch of Bally Sports Midwest. For the 2012 season, Ryan Lefebvre will be joined by Jeff Montgomery for about 20 games while the rest of the broadcasts will be covered by former Angels announcer duo of Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc. During the 2016 season, the Royals averaged an 11.7 rating and 105,000 viewers on primetime TV broadcasts. Selected Royals games previously aired in the 2000s on the Royals Network, and it's former flagship was KMCI-TV.
Sluggerrr is the mascot of the Royals. Sluggerrr is a lion, and made his first appearance on April 5, 1996. On game day, Sluggerrr can be found giving aggressive encouragement to players and fans, pitching in the "Little K", and firing hot dogs from an air cannon into the stands between innings.
- "Royals Uniform History". Royals.com. MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
- "Royals 50th Season Book". Royals.com. MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
The ultimate keepsake and the perfect gift for true blue and gold Royals fans of all ages, this official, distinctive showpiece will be a treasure for years to come.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kansas City Royals.|
- Kansas City Royals official website
- Around the Horn in KC – Official MLBlog of the Kansas City Royals front office
- CBS SportsLine.com
- Sports E-Cyclopedia
|| World Series champions
|| American League champions
2014 & 2015