I have no ties to the city of Kansas City and have spent minimal time there, but I’ve always liked the Royals organization. Like most kids my age this was based solely on the fact that the man that captured the imagination of an entire generation played for them. I’m talking about the one and only Bo Jackson. I feel that within my circle of friends, the fact that Bo was on the Royals made them a “cool” team to like and follow. However, one of my favorite players growing up was also a Royal and his name is George Brett. He (and Ken Caminiti) literally made third base look scary to me. I LOVED watching Bo and Brett play back then, unfortunately there were not a lot of nationally broadcasted Royals games in those years, so I often had to settle for the nightly highlights from ESPN Baseball Tonight.
Until this postseason, I never saw the Royals attain any kind of notable success in my lifetime. I was too young to remember the 1985 World Series as I was still a few years away from becoming a fan of the game and even when they have managed to played .500 ball, they’ve always played in the shadow of other teams within their division. Like many people who enjoy seeing small and mid market teams go deep in the postseason, I was delighted to see their 29 year postseason drought end in 2014. While I was a rooting for a Kansas City win, I can’t be unhappy with the end result of the World Series. In all honesty, it was probably the best World Series I’ve personally watched in many years.
So with that said, I’ll wrap this up with how I do all my 30 Teams. 30 Posts; with a handful of images and memories that I enjoy and would like to share. Here’s to the winners of the 2014 American League pennant- The Kansas City Royals.
Like many people, I instantly fell in love with Buck O’Neil after watching the Ken Burns baseball documentary back in 1994. I’d never heard of Buck prior to this but I quickly became obsessed with his story, his kindheartedness and his position as an ambassador for the Negro Leagues and for the game as a whole. I feel as he was one of the greatest baseball storytellers of all time. I never really had a grandfather, but I’ve imagined that he’s what a grandfather would be like. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who has had this thought. I remember the day he passed away and while he was 94 years old, I still remember being slightly shocked and upset by it.
I’ll always associate Buck with the city of Kansas City due to his years spent with the Monarchs and while he never played or coached them, his time spent as a scout for the Royals. Here’s to Buck O’Neil, a true Kansas City legend and one of the few people I’ve ever considered a hero.
George Brett was one of the guys that sparked my interest in the game strictly through his photos on baseball cards I collected as a kid. I loved the baby blue Royals uniforms he wore, his thick eye black, his lack of batting gloves, his tilted left handed stance and while I cringe while typing this, I loved the big chaw that always seemed to be lodged in his cheek. He exuded intensity and LOOKED like a baseball player in every sense. As I got a little older and paid attention to stats, I realized there was much more to love about the guy as he was an absolute stud. It also helped that he converted to first base (my favorite position) and spent his entire career in the same uniform, which is something I’ll forever admire with any player.
Seeing the former Royals superstar still working in the organization in recent years as a batting coach and now in the front office is amazing. He bleeds Royal blue and white and I think it’s safe to say that he’s the greatest Royal ever.
Mike Sweeney is the only modern Royals player I’m mentioning here, and when I say modern I mean not from my childhood. After not paying great attention to baseball for a few years in high school after diving a tad too deep into the world of music and skateboarding, I found a new generation of players that I admired and loved watching. Mike Sweeney was one of these guys.
I saw Sweeney as a George Brett-esque type of player due to the fact that it looked like he was going to spend his entire career with the Royals and he carried himself in a way that not many players do. He was even named team captain in 2003, much like Brett did many years earlier. During his peak years, he was dependable and fun to watch play baseball. I’ll always think it’s unfortunate that back issues robbed him of good baseball years and that he bounced around various teams other than the Royals before hanging up his spikes in 2010.
My favorite moment during Sweeney’s career happened during a game against the Tigers in 2001, when he attacked Jeff Weaver and started a bench clearing brawl. It may not be a baseball accomplishment and in the end it was something he was ashamed of, but I love a good baseball brawl. Plus it helps that Sweeney was the least likely guy you’d ever expect to go after someone, but then again everyone’s got a breaking point.
Dan Quisinberry is one of my favorite characters in baseball history. He was one of those guys that you couldn’t help but root for as he was an all-star relief pitcher with a quirky anti-jock personality, which laid the foundation for many of his great quotes over his career. Oh yeah, I can’t leave out the fact that he had one of the greatest submarine pitching styles in the history of the game.
Two things about “Quiz” that everyone should know is that 1) He was a poet and released an excellent book of poetry entitled “On Days Like This” and 2) His life was tragically cut short in 1998 from brain cancer. He was only 45 years old.
As I mentioned above, Bo Jackson captured an entire generation’s imagination with his athleticism. In my mind, there were athletes and then there were the guys who reached almost superhero status. Along with Michael Jordan and Tony Gwynn, Bo Jackson was one of these guys for me. He played baseball AND football and was a marketed by Nike in a way that bordered Jordan status. He was one of the guys that you HAD to watch when he came to bat, even when there was always a chance he was going to strikeout on a curveball.
Bo’s story is one of the biggest “what-ifs” in sports history and I doubt anyone like him will ever come around again. Honestly, I’d prefer for it to stay that way though. Bo brought unparalleled attention to the Royals during his peak years and I’d be curious to see Kansas City merch sales from that time. I’d put money down that his merch outsold George Brett, Bret Saberhagen, Frank White and every other Royal combined. know I wanted a Royals cap because of him, and I lived on the West Coast.
Like many people, my favorite Bo Jackson moment was the 1989 All-Star Game. Still so awesome after all these years.
In a nutshell, Frank White was a mainstay in Kansas City for almost as long as George Brett. He came up in 1973 and retired after the 1990 season. That’s 18 seasons all spent with the Royals. White was no slouch and he racked up a fair amount of All-Star game selections and Gold Glove awards for his steady play in the field. Add that to his ALCS MVP award in 1980 and the fact that he was on the 1985 World Series team, and I’d say that White long ago established himself as a Kansas City baseball legend and his #20 number is retired for good reason.
I just wish I was able to watch him play more as my baseball memories of him are a little fuzzy due to the fact that he was past his peak years by the time I started regularly following the game. But hey, that’s what YouTube is for and THIS Frank White moment is quite awesome.