Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals are the main baseball team in Kansas City, the capital of Kansas State. They play in the Central Division of the American League of Major League Baseball. Formed as part of an expansion franchise in 1969 that followed the Athletics’ move to Oakland, the Athletics were the former home team of Missouri.
The Royals enjoyed some success in the first part of their history, but more recently they have suffered shocking seasons, with the number of losses repeatedly exceeding one hundred.
The Team’s Origins
The Kansas City Royals were established in 1969 and take their name from the American Royal Livestock Show that has been held in Kansas City since 1899.
The Athletics were traditionally the home team of Kansas, but left to play in Oakland at the end of the 1967 season. Major League Baseball then chose to expand the league by 24 teams and granted Kansas City one of the four expansion franchises to begin play in 1969.
Ewing M. Kauffman was the primary owner of the team and named it the Royals. The first match was played at the old Municipal Stadium in 1969 against the Western Division Champions the Minnesota Twins. The Royals came back from 3-1 down to win during the extra innings and start their history with a remarkable story.
Although the Royals finished the whole season 69-93, this was the best record of the four expansion teams who started that season. To top things off, Lou Piniella was named Rookie of the Year.
The first seriously notable season for the Royals was in 1971 when they completed their first overall winning season.
Manager Bob Lemon built the team up with some good trades and developed young pitchers Paul Splittorff and Steve Busby with good effect, as the team finished second in the Western Division. The achievement was made all the more impressive by the fact it was the fastest any team had gone from establishment to a winning season.
Two years later they moved to the new Royals Stadium (now known as the Kauffman Stadium), which was fairly elaborate for its day, with a series of fountains beyond the outfield fence.
The Royals introduced their trademark powder blue road uniforms to coincide with this move and, on the field, the team built its game around pitching and pace, playing to the artificial surface of their home ground. One of the key players was George Brett, who was joined by Frank White, Denis Leonard and Willie Wilson to form the base for the team over the next decade.
The approach paid off, as Whitey Herzog became manager in 1975 and the Royals won 91 games that season to finish second behind the Oakland Athletics, who picked up their fifth consecutive league title.
Over the next three years, Herzog steered the team to become one of the strongest franchise teams in the American League’s West Division. They beat the Athletics in 1976 by three games and looked to be in with a chance to win the American League Championship Series, having picked up the West Division title for the first time. It was not to be, however, and the batting of Chris Chambliss of the New York Yankees put an end to the Royals’ hopes.
Nevertheless, the following season saw another record-breaking winning percentage for the Royals. They won 102 games by pulling together and cultivating a core of excellent players, rather than a few stars.
They won the Division title and once again ended up against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. The two teams took a game each and the Royals went ahead 5-4 in the third, before the Yankees came back thanks to a two-run homer by Thurman Munson. Despite defeat at the final hurdle once again, the campaign had been another successful one.
However, the Royals’ glory seemed to be coming to an end in the 1979 season, as they picked up just 85 victories all season. They still looked to have a real chance of taking the league for a final time, but the last week of the season saw them slip to second behind the California Angels. The disappointment put an end to Herzog’s time at the franchise, making way for Jim Frey.
The 1980s and the First World Series Title
The transition to Frey proved a smooth one, as the Royals took the West Division title once more in 1980. They then overcame their former rivals in the post-season, exacting revenge from the Yankees when George Brett hit a dramatic home run for the victory off the Yankees’ star pitcher Goose Gossage.
Sadly though, they went on to lose in six games to the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. The Series was divided the following year owing to the 1981 Major League Baseball Strike and, having won the second half of the season, the Royals lost to long-time rivals the Oakland Athletics in a play-off to decide the overall winner.
After another competitive season in which the Royals again came up short for the Division title, the Royals eventually picked up their fifth Division championship under the leadership of manager Dick Howser. Unfortunately, although they again qualified for the final stages of the World Series, they would succumb to the eventual winners, the Detroit Tigers.
With so many years of disappointment on the grandest stage baseball has to offer, the Royals finally won their first World Series title in 1985. It was achieved in suitably dramatic style, as they returned from two games down to beat St. Louis 11-0 in the final game of a hotly fought series, with both teams hailing from the same area (hence its I-70 Series moniker, in reference to the Interstate 70 which links the two teams).
Post World Series
In the wake of their famous win, the Royals struggled to do compete post-season. This was a trend that continued for almost ten years, with the team regularly winning in excess of 90 games, but falling short in the World Series Competition. This period also saw a glorious end to George Brett’s career, when he struck his 3000th hit.
Unfortunately, after Brett left, many important figures followed suit. General Manager John Scuerholz left in 1990 and the team owner Ewing Kauffman passed away in 1993.
The increasing salaries for Major League Baseball players meant that the Royals could no longer hold on to their most successful stars. The new millennium was an even darker period for the team, as they went from being renowned for their winning culture to being equally renowned for setting records for losses, most notably a 100 game losing season in 2002.
In 2006, the Royals took on Dayton Moore as General Manager. He did his best to shake up a team that was set to mark their fourth losing season with another 100 defeats. This proved to be the case as, despite excellent performances from Mark Teahen and Mark Redman, the Royals lost the season 62 games to 100.
There were some signs of improvement the subsequent campaign, as they avoided their fifth consecutive season with 100 defeats, finishing with a 69-93 record. Looking ahead to the 2008 season, the Royals will be hoping to continue to improve, although preferably at a quicker pace. With the introduction of classic powder blue uniforms, the players will look to the past for a little bit of inspiration in the present.
The Kauffman Stadium
The Royals Stadium was opened on April 10th 1973 and is now recognized as one of the game’s most attractive parks. The stadium was renamed on 2nd July 1993 to commemorate the late Ewing Kauffman’s life as owner of the team. The stadium is set to celebrate its 35th season with a $250 million renovation project, which will be completed before the 2010 season.
The Kauffman Stadium is about to undergo a massive renovation to modernise the exterior. The team has set up the Royals Legacy Brick Program, which allows fans to purchase engraved bricks that will be placed in the grand walkway.
The proceeds will go to charities for local children, education and community programs. As well as the brick placed in the walkway, each person who places an order will receive a replica brick made of the same material to display in their own home. The bricks are available in three sizes; 4” by 8” for $150, 8” by 8” for $250 and 8” by 8” for $300.
The stadium is located at the Blue Ridge Cutoff on the Interstate 70. If coming from the east or west, enter Kansas City on the Interstate 70 and take exit number 9 at the Blue Ridge Cutoff, signposted for the Sports Complex. If coming from the North or South enter Kansas City on the Interstate 435 and take exit number 63B and take the Sports Complex Exit.
- 5 – George Brett (player, 1973-1993)
- 10 – Dick Howser, (manager, 1981-86)
- 20 – Frank White (coach, 1973-90 and 1997-present)
- 42 – Jackie Robinson (as part of MLB’s general retirement of the number).
The best seats in the stadium are the Crown Seats, which cost $230 per single game, $240 for premium games and $185 per game at the season ticket price. Standard tickets are $37 for the Dugout Box, $33 for the Club Box, $32 for the Dugout Plaza and $9 for the HyVee Box, which is the furthest from the pitch.
Parking costs $9 per game, or $6 per game if purchased for the entire season as part of a season ticket. Season ticket prices work out at approximately 20% cheaper than buying tickets for individual match tickets.
Premium games cost around $9 extra per game and include the matches in April against the Yankees, June matches against St. Louis, and August matches against Boston.