This Date In Royals History – October 7, 1981
This date marks another significant moment in Royals history on the same day the ballclub lost a tough playoff game. The 1981 players strike resulted in the season being separated in two-halves, the first saw the Royals finish ten games under .500 and 12 games behind the first place Oakland A’s. But in the second-half Kansas City rebounded to finish 30-23 edging Oakland by a single game. The resurgence started with the hiring of Manager Dick Howser on August 31st after which the Royals went 20-13.
On Wednesday, October 7, 1981 in Game 2 of the first-ever AL West Divisional Series the Royals would lose a tough 2-1 decision at Royals Stadium sending Kansas City to Oakland down two games to none in the best of five. The A’s completed the three-game sweep two days later.
But October 7, 1981 also marked the promotion of John Schuerholz to become the third General Manager in club history. Schuerholz had been a key member of the Royals front office from the start having joined the club as an administrative assistant in 1968. He was taking the reins from Joe Burke who stepped aside to become Club President. The move was anticipated but happened a year earlier than expected as Burke had began treatment for cancer – though he clearly stated his health was not the deciding factor.
His career started with the Orioles in 1967-68, but Schuerholz was almost completely groomed for the job within the Royals system. As Royals GM he would continue the club’s winning ways leading them to two more division titles, the 1985 American League Pennant and World Series Championship. It was just the start of one of the most successful GM careers in the history of the game. Schuerholz would take the Royals Way to Atlanta where he would win thirteen more division titles and another World Series crown.
Just A Bit More: John Schuerholz was in Kansas City a couple of weeks ago and stopped by Kauffman Stadium during the Royals final homestand. It was a real pleasure to take him through the Royals Hall of Fame and hear his remembrances and stories about the founding of the ballclub. He was part of a really innovative group of baseball executives that made the Royals one of the most successful expansion franchises in the game.
The picture above is a group photo of the Royals first front office and scouting staff. John Schuerholz is right in the middle of it all, second row center…
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)