As you surely know by now reports everywhere have Rick Ankiel joining the Royals for the 2010 season with a mutual option for 2011. There is no question that Ankiel is an athlete with great physical skills having reached the big leagues back in 1999 as a much ballyhooed pitching prospect at the tender age of 19.
Of course his struggles as a pitcher, starting so visibly in the 2000 NLDS and NLCS, are now a part of both Cardinals and recent baseball lore. What makes his story compelling was his ability to return to the minor leagues and climb back to the big leagues as a position player.
He is not the first player in Royals history to have reach the big leagues as both a pitcher and position player. The most recent was reliever Ron Mahay who actually made his MLB debut as an outfielder with the Red Sox in 1995. The outfieder version of Mahay didn’t last long and he returned to the minors in 1996 where he took a shot at pitching.
By 1997 he was back in Boston as a member of their bullpen and has been in the big leagues ever since toiling for a multitude of teams including the Royals. Kansas City fans will also remember that shortstop Tony Pena Jr began a similar try the reverse tranformation last year and will continue that hope in 2010 in the San Francisco Giants organization.
Former Royals pitcher Al Fitzmorris is another player that made a position switch going from minor league outfielder to big league pitcher. Though Fitzy never made it to the show as an outfielder, his offensive skills allowed him to hit .242 (24-109) as a pitcher with the Royals mostly in the seasons before the advent of the designated hitter.
From all accounts Ankiel is also a fearless outfield defender perfectly willing to hit the wall in pursuit of an out.
Ankiel’s story both on the field and off has certainly been interesting and hopefully his skills will all come together this season here in Kansas City. His progress should be part of the intrigue of the 2010 Royals season.
Welcome to Kansas City Rick!
Do you know this guy?
Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Jackie Robinson are just a few of the baseball immortals who will be represented this Friday (1pm-9pm) and Saturday (9am-7pm) at Royals FanFest . In conjunction with the National Baseball Hall of Fame we will have artifacts from the careers of each of these legends – and more - housed within the Major League Baseball History Exhibit inside the Overland Park Convention Center.
And that is just part of the show. We’ll have player autograph sessions, a chance to meet both Royals Alumni and some minor leaguers hopefully on their way to many summers at Kauffman Stadium. Plus a mix of Q&A sessions with current Royals, GM Dayton Moore, a reunion of the 1985 World Champion Royals and more.
It’s a full two days of fun and every Royals fan should be there to take it all in. Get your tickets here and join us as we get baseball season started as the snow melts here in Kansas City!
Stop by the Royals Hall of Fame section and say hello…
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)
Not just one…
At Royals FanFest This Friday!
All three Kansas City Cy Young Award winners will take part in a one-of-a-kind autograph session at FanFest on Friday, January 15 from 3:30-4:30 pm – Get there early and you may get a chance to take part.
The first 4,000 fans entering the Overland Park Covention Center each day will receive a commemorative Zack Greinke backpack, but prior to 3:30 pm on Friday, 250 of the backpacks will contain winning tickets allowing the holder to enter the one-of-a kind Cy Young autograph session. All fans with a winning ticket can enter the line, which will begin to form at 2:30pm for the session set to start at 3:30pm.
Children under 14 who possess a winning ticket may be accompanied by an adult. In order to get all fans with winning ticket through the line quickly there will be no photos with the Cy Young winners during this particular autograph session and only one item will be allowed to be signed per player.
There will be autographs session with current Royals and Alumni all-day on both days of Royals FanFest Friday (1pm-9pm) and Saturday (9am-7pm). But for your chance at this extra special Cy Young autograph session you must be join us before 3:30pm Friday – Get your tickets now!
(Curt Nelson, Director, Royals Hall of Fame)
I know Andre Dawson was an absolute idol in Chicago during his time with the Cubs. He may well have been the single most popular and revered Cub outside of Ryne Sandberg during the late 1980′s and his 1987 MVP season cemented his place in Windy City baseball lore.
Nonetheless, I sure hope the ‘Hawk’ and our friends in Cooperstown put him in a Montreal Expos cap for his National Baseball Hall of Fame plaque. In my mind he became the Hall of Fame player he was north of the border and should be enshrined as such. The Expos may be gone, but they are also part of Major League Baseball’s history and Andre Dawson was one of their brightest stars.
Actually if it hadn’t been for the persistence of Dawson’s grandmother that young Andre go to college…no if and or buts…then the Hawk might have been apart of the Royals championship teams. Read this article and dream of a Royals outfield of Amos Otis, Willie Wilson, and Andre Dawson. Come on grandma, we would’ve sent him to school too!
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)
1915 - Tom Ferrick (Scout – 1969-??)
Did You Know: If you thought the birthdays for today weren’t of much significance in Royals History, well then you’d be incorrect. Alvin Morman may have only had a cup of coffee with the Royals – that’s true - but the other name was a key cog in the Royals scouting department from the very beginning.
Tom Ferrick had a nine-year major league career (1941-52) as a pitcher playing for the Phildelphia Athletics, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators and New York Yankees. In fact, he was the winning picther for New York in Game 3 of their sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1950 World Series.
But it was as a scout that he made a truly lasting impact here in Kansas City. Ferrick spent much of his time with the Royals as a National Cross Checker and Professional Baseball Scout (one who scouts players already in pro ball for free-agent and trade possibilities). As a Pro Scout he played a large role in the Royals trades for Amos Otis and John Mayberry to name just two. As a National Cross Checker he was a driving force behind the Royals selection of George Brett. He was also the actual signing scout for another big name – Mark Gubicza. How’s that – four Royals Hall of Famers and we just scratched the surface.
Tom was part of a group that included Art Stewart, Rosey Gilhousen and many other stalwarts on that first scouting staff (pictured above- Tom is on the back row third from the left) who helped make the Royals champions…and quick!
When Royals fans think of Vince Coleman (if they ever do) I’d say the first thought is the ‘killer tarp’ in St. Louis that rolled his ankle before Game 4 of the NLCS. Coleman somehow got his leg tangled with the automated tarp system during warm-ups which resulted in a broken ankle – he was done for the rest of the post season so he never saw the field here at Royals Stadium in the World Series.
Many of our friends from the other side of the state reference the lose of Coleman as one of the main factors in their loss to the Royals – however that agrument has an equally (if not more) important corollary that often goes completely unnoticed.
Less memorable would be Vince’s time in a Royals uniform that came nearly a decade later. The Royals acquired Coleman from the New York Mets in exchange for outfielder Kevin McReynolds (returning to the Mets from whince he came to Kansas City in 1991) on January 5, 1994.
Coleman’s time with the boys in blue was not all that memorable, nonetheless ‘Vincent Van-GO” still had the base stealing instincts finishing with 50 steals in 1994 – his single full-season in Kansas City. He is one of five Royals to ever post a 50+ stolen base season – Can you name the others? (see below)
After playing 51 games in 1994, McReynolds called it a career. Coleman lingered a bit longer when he was traded from Kansas City to Seattle in 1995 then playing briefly for Reds (1996) and Tigers (1997) before his retirement.
Royals with 50+ Stolen Base Seasons
Willie Wilson (four times)
Tom Goodwin (twice)
Fred Patek (twice)
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)
1974 - Mark Redman (Pitcher – 2006)
1966 – Steve Shifflett (Pitcher – 1992)
1963 - John Davis (Pitcher – 1987)
1962 - Danny Jackson (Pitcher – 1983-87)
Did You Know: In addition to being a pivotal member of the 1985 World Champion Kansas City Royals, Danny Jackson went on to win another World Series with the 1990 Cincinnati Reds and played in the 1993 World Series as a member of the Phildelphia Phillies.
He also lead the National League with 23 wins and 15 complete games with the Reds in 1988 – an outstanding performances that went largely unnoticed because Orel Hershiser was busy breaking Don Drysdale’s major league record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched at 59. Jackson finished a distant second in 1988 National League Cy Young voting.