This Date In Royals History – October 7, 1981

Royals Scouting Department - 1970.jpgThis 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)


The 1981 ALDS game two was a good one and could have been a significant for the Royals had it not been for a subsequent unfortunate event.

The Royals lost but Mike Jones pitched a gem, allowing only 2 runs over eight innings. Jones was poised to be a big part of the 1982 rotation with Gura and Leonard. In December, he fipped his car and broke his neck. He missed the next two season, returning in 1984 but was not the same pitcher. As shame, really.

lwiedy…Very true. Mike was the Royals First Round Pick (21st Overall) in the 1977 June Draft. He won 13 games for Fort Myers (Class A) in 1978, then again for Jacksonville (Class AA) in 1980 – before making his big league debut on September 6, 1980.

In 1981 at age 21 he was 11-7 2.96 ERA at Omaha (Triple A)when he was recalled by the Royals and finished 6-3 3.21 ERA in Kansas City. He was even fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Dave Righetti (NYY), Rich Gedman (BOS), and Bob Ojeda (BOS).

The injuries from the car accident stopped his rise to possible stardom in its tracks, though technically he was part of the 1985 World Champions. In fact he was the guy that punched Dane Iorg in the nose (accidentally of course) after his pinch-hit to win Game 6 of the 1985 World Series.

Re: Scouting/Player Development photo

I live in Florida now and work around baseball. Last summer I had to travel to Sarasota for a GCL Reds game and decided to stop by what is known as Twin Lakes Park. It is where Baltimore runs its minor league operations. Nothing special as a complex but seeing that group photo reminded me that the office pictured is still there (Don’t think they are making stone covered walls anymore). There is also the Academy?s original dedication plaque still on the building.

With Sarasota committing to Spring Training facilities with the Orioles, I wouldn?t be surprised if this complex is either renovated or torn down. The plaque might be a nice memento, hopefully it would be preserved!

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