Long 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)
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.
1943 - Aurelio Monteagudo (Pitcher – 1970)
Did You Know: Bob Boone is one of three Royals Managers that were also one-time players for the ballclub. Now this should be a gimme for any long-time Royals fan, but can you name the other two?
- John Wathan (Royals Player 1976-85; Manager 1987-91)
- Hal McRae (Royals Player 1973-87; Manager 1991-94)
- Bob Boone (Royals Player 1989-90; Manager 1995-97)
Interestingly they all three came in succession covering an entire decade from 1987-97. Two other former Kansas City Athletics players also have managed the Royals. Extra credit if you know those two:
- Whitey Herzog (Athletics Player 1959-60; Royals Manager 1975-79)
- Dick Howser (Athletics Player 1961-62; Royals Manager 1981-86)
Whitey also played briefly for the Kansas City Blues at the age of 20 back in the 1952 season.
1967 - Tom Gordon (Pitcher – 1988-95)
1958 - Cliff Pastornicky (Infielder – 1983)
1955 – Luis Pujols (Catcher – 1984)
Did You Know: If you are a long-time Royals fan you might remember Cliff Pastornicky for his brief big league career back in 1983. He was called up to Kansas City and played third base for 10 games during one of George Brett’s intermittent stints on the disabled list. I remember he had two HRs during those ten games including a three-run shot to give the Royals a 4-2 win on a Sunday afternoon (June 19, 1983) here at Royals Stadium.
But Pastornicky was more than a short-time Royals player, later serving the organization as a scout for many years. His work especially shined through this past year as he was the official signing scout for both the 2009 Royals Player of the Year – Billy Butler and the 2009 American League Cy Young Award Winner – Zack Greinke.
That’s a pretty good contribution to the club – Happy Birthday Cliff!
And as it turns out the vote wasn’t even close with Zack picking up 25 of 28 first place votes (along with being named second on the remaining three ballots).
Zack joins a very select club of Royals Cy Young Award winners along with Bret Saberhagen (1985 & 1989) and David Cone (1994). Thanks for a great season Zack it was amazing to watch your artistry on the mound all year.
Congratulations are in order as well as Zack is getting married this weekend. Best of luck to the soon to be newlyweds!
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)
1964 - Mitch Williams (Pitcher – 1997)
1952 - Dave Frost (Pitcher- 1982)
Did You Know: Heck did you even remember that the ‘Wild Thing’ pitched for the Royals? Yes, it’s true he did indeed.
Mitch Williams took the mound in a Royals uniform seven times early in the 1997 season before being released by Kansas City on May 12. It would be his last seven major league appearances. Actually the most memorable tie Mitch Williams has for me to Kansas City is a pitch he throw while wearing a Phillies uniform.
Williams gave up the title winning walk-off home run to the Blue Jays Joe Carter, a Kansas City native, in Game Six of the 1992 World Series.
1968 - Chris Haney (Pitcher – 1992-98)
Did You Know: Chris’ dad Larry was a big league catcher from 1966-1978 playing for Orioles, Pilots, A’s, Cardinals and Brewers. Chris is one of only nineteen putchers in Royals History to ever throw a two-hit complete game.
In 1999, while pitching for the Cleveland Indians, Chris gave up hit #3,000 to Wade Boggs of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. It marked the first time in major league history that a player collected his 3,000th hit with a home run.
1960 - Rick Lueken (Pitcher – 1989)
Did You Know: This is also the birthday for Kansas City’s greatest baseball ambassador John J. ‘Buck O’Neil, who was born on November 13, 1911 in Carrebelle, FL. Buck played twelve seasons in the Negro League and is most remembered for his time as a player, player/manager and manager of the Kansas City Monarchs. But his debut actually came as a member of the Memphis Red Sox wear he played two games in 1937 before his contract was sold to the Monarchs.
Buck missed two of his prime playing years in service to our country as a member of the US Navy during WWII (1944-45). Though Buck never got the chance to play Major League Baseball he would be the first African-American coach in Major League Baseball history when he joined the Chicago Cubs staff in 1962.
We hear Buck’s voice every day here at the Royals Hall of Fame as he is a key figure in our film about the hitsory of baseball in Kansas City. Plus we see his image each day as his statue sits at the end of the bench in the Dugout Theater – there to meet each and every guest to the Royals Hall of Fame.
1961 – Greg Gagne (Shortstop – 1993-95)
Did You Know: This is also the birthday for another character in baseball history – even if he is not related to Kansas City. Does the name Archibald Wright Graham ring a bell?
If you’ve ever read the wonderful baseball novel Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella or seen the movie adaptation Field of Dreams then you are familiar with the his story and might know him better ‘Moonlight’ Graham. The real Archibald Graham who was born on this date in 1877.
The gist of the story is that ‘Moonlight’ Graham was a player that played in part of just one major league game and never got his chance at bat. He was in the on-deck circle for the last out of his big league debut and never played another game.
The movie took some artistic license with his story, but not much really. ‘Moonlight’ never got his at-bat, but Archibald did live his other dream – where he made even more of a difference. Archie left baseball and became a doctor setting up practice in the small town of Chisholm, Minnesota. For fifty years ‘Doc’ Graham impacted many lives practicing medicine and pursuing a committment to education which still exists to this day as the Graham Scholarship Fund at Chisholm High School.
Good nickname, very good movie, and one of the simply great American baseball stories of which there are thousnads just under the surface.
Happy Birthday Moonlight!