December 2009

Cooperstown Call For Kansas City…Again

Whitey.jpgLast week we received the good news that former Royals Manager Whitey Herzog had been elected for induction in Cooperstown by the Hall of Fame’s Veterans’ Committee. If you’ve been reading here for awhile you may have seen an earlier post here outlining all the Hall of Fame Members with ties directly to Kansas City – that number has now reached 43.

Much has been made about Whitey’s career as a manger on the east side of the state and for good reason. But the White Rat himself makes the case that his days in Kansas City were just as important to his managerial career. In fact when interviewed by mlb.com’s Dick Kaegel, Herzog goes a step further saying his chance with the Royals gave him a second opportunity he thought might never come after being fired by the Rangers in 1973:

“I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance, and that’s why I’ve got to thank (Royals GM) Joe Burke,” Herzog said. “I got in there at a very good time with a very good team, and they changed my whole career around. It was a good ballclub. Not only could we hit home runs, we could play defense, we could do a lot of things and run bases.”

True enough and Herzog was seemingly the perfect manager for that group of players. There is certainly no doubting the success as Whitey still holds the Royals all-time best managerial record at 410-304 (.574) including three straight AL West titles in 1976, 1977 and 1978.

After the Royals finished 85-77 just three games behind the Angels in 1979 Herzog’s time in Kansas City came to an abrupt end. There were clearly some hard feelings and philosophical differences bewtween Herzog and Royals owner Ewing Kauffman that eventually led to the breakup.

George Brett tells a great story of Whitey’s demise as Royals Manager. After the last game of the 1979 season (a tough 6-5 loss here at home), Brett invited Herzog on a fishing trip the next day. Always the avid angler Herzog agreed telling George:

“Sure lets meet here at the ballpark in the morning. I’ll go inside, they’ll fire me – it’ll only take a minute or two – then we can head to the lake.” 

As it turned out that’s exactly what happened, though I’ve never heard if the fish were biting later that morning. Three decades later Herzog concedes there was fault on both sides:

“Part of it was my fault and part of it was not my fault,” Herzog said. “Me and Mr. Kauffman just didn’t hit it off that good. It was one of those things. I was a brash young guy and the next thing I know — we set an all-time attendance record after finishing three games out and winning three times in a row — and I’m looking for a job.”

He wasn’t looking for long and headed east to St. Louis in 1981 to begin another chapter in a managerial career that has now led to Cooperstown. Looking back it worked out for all involved. In the next decade Whitey had great success with the Redbirds reaching the postseason three times and capturing a World Series Championship. Mr. K and the Royals reached the postseason four times with a World Series title as well.

Interestingly, the Royals crown came in 1985 against – nah, you already know that story…

To a ‘Show-Me’ state legend with success from west to east, we offer a hearty and well deserved congratulations from all your fans and friends in Kansas City – Thanks Whitey!

 

(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)

Family Ties – Newest Royals Fan Arrives

It’s been awhile since we last posted here on Royals Then, Now & Forever – but we’re finally back. The main reason was a most happy ocassion for me last week  – the arrival of one Nicklaus George Nelson – born to my lovely sister-in-law Susan and my brother Erik (the most ardent Royals fan who happens to live in St. Louis). We’re not sure yet if he is a lefty or righty, but we thought we might have seen some southpaw potential.

Nicklaus will be raised a Royals fan through and through and he already has the gear to get started. Welcome to the world Nicklaus – can’t wait to see you here at Kauffman Stadium for your first major league game!

Royals Birthdays – December 4

SheridanPregame.JPG1957 – Pat Sheridan (Outfielder – 1981-85)

Happy Birthday!

 

Did You Know: Pat Sheridan had a couple of key hits for the 1985 World Champion Royals. He actually scored the winning run on Willie Wilson’s 10th inning RBI-single to clinch the American League West title on the next to last game of the season.

He also lead off the ninth inning with a game tying pinch-hit HR at Toronto in ALCS Game 2 which would have been a much more memorable moment had the Royals been able to win that game. As it was the start of the Royals ‘comeback’ was delayed until George Brett’s heroics is Game 3 at home.

After the 1985 season Pat signed as a free-agent with his homestate Detroit Tigers, but we’ll always remember his part in the Royals World Championship. Plus he had one of the best moustaches in club history… 

This Date In Royals History – December 3, 1969

Amos_Otis_S_0c003.jpgJust after discusing Cedric Tallis’ and the early Royals early braintrust’s great success on December 2nd comes December 3rd where they pulled off perhaps the most successful trade (for the Royals) in club history.

On December 3, 1969 the Royals traded Joe Foy (3B) to the New York Mets for Bob Johnson (P) and Amos Otis (OF)…and the rest is history. A.O. went on to become perhaps the ballclub’s first truly “Star” player, he could do it all:

 

Speed – Amos lead the AL in steals with 52 in 1971

Defense – Amos won the Royals first three Gold Gloves (1971, 1973, 1974)

Hit – Amos collected 1,977 hits with KC with a career average of .280

Hit for Power - Amos led the Royals in HRs four times (Still ranks 3rd all-time for KC)

Throw – Amos led the AL in Outfield Assists in 1970

 

Five tools and as graceful as any outfielder you’ve ever seen – which was a blessing and a curse. He was so talented and smooth that the game seemed to be easy for him – but this game isn’t easy for anyone. Because it all looked so fluid when he played some thought he wasn’t hustling, but the reality was he was so good he just made it look effortless.

One of the greatest Royals ever. Nice trade Cedric! 

(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame) 

 

This Date In Royals History – December 2, 1970 – 71 – 72

Fred & Hal.jpgToday is one of the greatest ‘dates’ in Royals History, though you may not even know it. In fact if you ever want lottery numbers related to the Royals keep both 12 and 2 in mind.

This is the ultimate Royals Hall of Fame Triple Play – all thanks to the ballclub’s first General Manager Cedric Tallis. Check this transaction line over the course of three straight years:

 

  • 12/2/70 – Royals Hall of Famer #1

Kansas City trades Bob Johnson (P), Jack Hernandez (IF) and Jimmy Campanis (C) to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Bruce Del Canton (P), Jerry May (C) and Fred Patek (SS).

 

  • 12/2/71 – Royals Hall of Famer #2

Kansas City trades Lance Clemmons (P) and Jim York (P) to the Houston Astros for Dave Grangaard (IF) and John Mayberry (1B).

 

  • 12/2/72 – Royals Hall of Famer #3

Kansas City trades Roger Nelson (P) and Richie Scheinblum (OF) to the Cincinnati Reds for Wayne Simpson (P) and Hal McRae (OF).

 

Those are the only trades the Royals have ever made on this date – nothing before or since -which sort of makes you wish the Winter Meetings were this week instead of next. I would have advised Dayton to play off those incredible numbers and try to close his best deal on December 2 if at all possible – it has a steller track record for Kansas City

(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)

Royals Birthdays – November 30

Bo[1].jpgLong break for Thanksgiving…Thanks for returning to see what’s new at Royals Then, Now & Forever. We’ll start with a few birthday greetings and look for some more facts, tidbits and stories in the days ahead.

1962 – Bo Jackson (Outfielder – 1986-90)

1958 – Steve Shields (Pitcher – 1986)

1954 – Juan Berenguer (Pitcher – 1981, 1992)

Happy Birthday!

 

Did You Know: Although Bo Jackson is remembered as one of the greatest two-sport profesional athletes in history, he was not the first Heisman Trophy winner to play Major League Baseball. Who was the first?

Vic Janowicz won the Heisman at Ohio State (1950) the year before Woody Hayes began his legendary career as the Buckeyes Head Coach. Janowicz played briefly for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1953 and 1954.

Strange Bowl Season Side Note: In 1950 Woody Hayes lead his Miami (OH) Redskins, now known as the RedHawks, to his first bowl game as a college football head coach. Believe it or not the game was the Salad Bowl in Phoenix where they defeated Arizona State 34-21 on January 1, 1951. It’s true…the Salad Bowl.  

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