Unlike most versions of baseball’s All-Star Game, Tuesday’s edition is destined to be historic. It will, after all, remind America that there is a major-league team in Kansas City.
Once upon a time, the Royals were a model franchise, reaching the playoffs seven times in 10 years from 1976-85 and winning the World Series in 1985. But the Royals have no playoff appearances since then, and they look to be headed for their 17th losing season in the past 18 years.
So, as the baseball world turns its attention to Kansas City this week, we bring you 20 factoids about the Kansas City Royals, the current title holder as the most irrelevant franchise in the major leagues:
1) The Royals came into existence as an expansion team in 1969, joining the American League at the same time as the Seattle Pilots.
2) Kansas City had major-league baseball from 1955-67 when the Athletics resided there, although that requires a loose definition of “major league.”
3) The Royals’ nickname is considered to be a nod of respect to the Kansas City Monarchs, a Negro League franchise that operated from 1920-65. The Monarchs’ roster included, at various times, Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil, and Jackie Robinson.
4) Kansas City is home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
5) Through 1994, the Royals were 151 games over .500 and had a winning percentage of .518. Since then, they are 424 games under .500 with a winning percentage of .424.
6) Definition of mediocrity No. 1: The Royals’ current 27-year playoff drought is exceeded only by the Expos/Nationals franchise.
7) Definition of mediocrity No. 2: In the past 16 years, the Royals have had one player finish in the top 10 in MVP voting — Carlos Beltran was ninth in 2003.
8) Definition of mediocrity No. 3: Kansas City has had the minimum of one All-Star each of the past nine seasons. This year’s honoree is Billy Butler.
9) In 2010, Billy Butler led the major leagues by grounding into 32 double plays. This has been your Billy Butler fact of the day.
10) The Royals’ club record for home runs in a season is 36 by Steve Balboni in 1985. Every other franchise has had at least one player hit 40 homers.
11) George Brett is the Royals’ all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, and walks.
12) George Brett is the best player in club history and is the only Hall of Famer to spend the bulk of his career with the Royals.
13) Brett’s batting average of .390 in 1980 remains the highest in the American League since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.
14) U L Washington was a middle infielder for the Royals from 1977-84 and is best known for holding a toothpick in his mouth while playing. The U and L don’t stand for anything; his full name was U L Washington. These have been your U L Washington facts of the day.
15) The two most memorable moments in franchise history: Brett’s pine-tar incident, and umpire Don Denkinger blowing a call that helped Kansas City win its only World Series title.
16) The Royals have retired the uniform numbers of two players: Brett’s No. 5, and Frank White’s No. 20.
17) Kansas City has one MVP award (Brett in 1980), but four Cy Young awards (Zack Greinke, 2009; David Cone, 1994; and Bret Saberhagen, 1985 and 1989).
18) In 1977, Hal McRae hit 54 doubles, which tied for the highest total in the major leagues between 1950 and 1999.
19) All-time Royals lineup:
C — Darrell Porter
1B — John Mayberry
2B — Frank White
3B — George Brett
SS — Freddie Patek
LF — Willie Wilson
CF — Amos Otis
RF — Danny Tartabull
DH — Hal McRae
SP — Kevin Appier
SP — Bret Saberhagen
SP — Mark Gubicza
SP — Zack Greinke
RP — Dan Quisenberry
RP — Jeff Montgomery
Mgr — Whitey Herzog
20) Porter, Mayberry, White, Brett, Patek, Wilson, Otis, Gubicza, Saberhagen, Quisenberry, and Herzog all played a role in the Royals’ glory days from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. But rumor has it that there’s still a major-league team in Kansas City.
Question or comment for By the Numbers? You can reach Greg Jayne, Sports editor of The Columbian, at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read his blog, go to columbian.com/weblogs/GregJayne