The Royals are celebrating their 50th season. The following is a Top 50 list of the greatest moments in Royals history. Today is 40-36.
40. George Brett’s 3,154 Hit
When you bring up the Kansas City Royals to a baseball fan outside of Kansas City the first (probably, only) player they think of is George Brett.
Not uncommon for fans to think of Brett. He is the only Royals player to get to 3,000 career hits and he holds almost every career record in hitting in franchise history. George is also the only true Royals player (not counting Orlando Cepeda, Harmon Killebrew, or Gaylord Perry) to be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1993, Brett was at the end of his illustrious career. Injuries and age had finally caught up to the 13-time all-star. Brett announced that the 1993 season would be his last.
After an emotional final home-game against the Cleveland Indians (a game where Brett drove in the tying run in the eighth) the Royals traveled to Arlington to take on the Texas Rangers. The Rangers were celebrating the end of Nolan Ryan’s Hall-of-Fame career and the fans stood every time Brett came to the plate.
George came to the plate in the ninth-inning of his final game having 3,153 hits, 665 doubles, 317 home runs, 1,596 runs batted in, three batting titles in three different decades, a 1980 Most Valuable Player award, the 1985 ALCS Most Valuable Player, and too many postseason accolades to count. All Brett wanted to do in his final at-bat was hit a groundball that made him hustle down the line.
Facing Tom Henke, Brett hit a 1-2 pitch back up the middle. Rangers shortstop possibly had a play at it, however, the ball bounced into center-field for a single. Career hit number 3,154, prompting another standing ovation from the Rangers’ crowd. A story book ending to a storied career
39. Mike Moustakas breaks Royals Home Run record
If you were to ask baseball fans who was the single-season home run king in Royals history, few would have guess Steve Balboni. After finding out it was Steve Balboni, people would have wondered how that record had stood since 1985.
That record came down in 2017.
A year after spending most of the season on the disabled list with a torn ACL, Mike Moustakas came into the season on a mission. After hitting his first home run of the season in his second at-bat, he would go onto twenty-five homers before the all-star break and would be the third Royal to participate in the Home Run Derby (joining Bo Jackson in 1989 and Danny Tartabull in 1991).
Moustakas, who also holds the Royals record for most home runs in a single postseason, hit his 36th home run of the season on September 1st in Minnesota off of former Royal Dillon Gee, tying Steve Balboni for the team record. Then, inexplicably, Moustakas went on a fifteen-game dry spell, including fourteen straight games where he failed to drive in a run.
Then, on September 20th in Toronto, Moustakas came to the plate with the Royals up 12-0 facing Blue Jays pitcher Carlos Ramirez. After taking two pitches, Moustakas hit a line drive that cleared the wall in right-field, giving him his 37th home run and a new team record. Moustakas would finish 2017 with thirty-eight home runs. However, the chase was a very exciting part of a disappointing season for the Royals.
38. George Brett Goes Deep Three Times in the Bronx
George Brett was the producer of many of the Royals greatest postseason moments. He was known for coming through when the Royals needed him the most.
The Royals came to the Bronx in 1978 having split the first two game on the American League Championship Series while also looking to beat the Yankees, something that alluded them in 1976 and 1977.
In Game 3, George would lead off against future Hall-of-Famer Catfish Hunter. Brett would open the game with a bang…literally, leading off with a home run and staking the Royals to an early 1-0 lead. Brett came to the plate again in the third with the score tied at one. Brett took a pitch and then unloaded on the second one to give the Royals a 2-1 lead.
The Yankees would take the lead in the fourth when Brett came to the plate in the fifth down one. George took the first pitch for the second time in a row and then would unload on his third home run in five innings, tying the game at three.
Brett’s final line:
3-5, 3 HR, 3 RBI.
All three home runs would come off Hunter. Unfortunately for the Royals, all of Brett’s home runs were solo shots and the Royals would drop Game 3, 6-5, and would fall to the Yankees for the third straight season. However, Brett would become the fourth player in baseball history to hit three home runs in a postseason game and is one of only nine players to ever accomplish this feat.
This would be one of many postseason accomplishments for the all-time leading hitter for third baseman.
37. Cain Can Fly
October is the most exciting time to watch baseball. The air is crisper, the pressure is on every pitch, and the fans are more locked in. Everything about postseason baseball is great for fans of teams playing in October.
On October 23, 2015, Royals fans got all the excitement they could handle.
The American League Championship Series had switched back to Kansas City with the Royals having a 3-2 lead on the favored Toronto Blue Jays. In a rematch of the 1985 ALCS, the Royals would be the team jumping to a 3-1 lead. After falling in Game 5, some Royals fans were seeing a reverse Deja’ vu. The Blue Jays were the best offense in baseball and were the hottest team in baseball when they came to Kansas City. They could easily win three in a row, which they did to get to the ALCS in the Division Series against Texas. Royals fans were feeling the pressure.
Game 6 started off with the Royals taking a 2-0 lead on solo shots from Ben Zobrist and Mike Moustakas. The Royals took a 3-1 lead into the eighth when Jose Bautista hit a tying 2-run homer, sending the game into the bottom of the eighth tied at three.
This is where the game became a thing of legend. A forty-five-minute rain delay happened between the top and bottom of the inning with Toronto having the momentum.
When play resumed, Lorenzo Cain drew an eight-pitch walk to lead-off the Royals half of the eighth. That’s when Eric Hosmer stepped to the plate. The hero of so many Royals playoff games throughout 2014 and 2015, Hosmer’s goal was just to get Cain in scoring position.
Hosmer hit a ball into the right-field corner, forcing Bautista to cut the ball off. Bautista did a great job to hold Hosmer to a single, however, Cain never slowed down and, instead of throwing the ball to first, he threw to the ball towards Tulowitzki covering second. That allowed Cain the time he need to round third and head towards home at full-speed. Tulowitzki fired towards the plate, Cain slid…safe! At that moment, Kauffman Stadium was shaking. Lorenzo Cain had scored from first on a single to give the Royals the lead.
After some “tense” (George Brett was checking his pulse) moments in the top of the ninth, Wade Davis buckled down and the Royals won their second consecutive pennant. The image of Cain rounding third and racing towards home was indicative of how the Royals played. Tough, smart, and fast baseball.
36. George Brett Homers in the first World Series game in Royals Stadium
1980 was a year to remember for the Royals. George Brett flirted with .400, falling five hits short, and the Royals finally overcame the hated Yankees to win their first American League Pennant, bring the World Series to Kansas City for the first-time ever.
Game 3 was a must-win for Kansas City after having dropped Games 1 and 2 to the Phillies in Philadelphia. If the Royals were going to get back in the series, they had to win Game 3.
Up in the air before Game 3, however, was the status of their star third baseman. George Brett had come out of Game 2 with a case of hemorrhoids. He had surgery the day before Game 3 and, in his words, put his “troubles behind him”.
In the biggest moment of the franchise to that point, Brett stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the first.
In the first-ever game in Royals Stadium history, it was poetic for George Brett to get the first hit by a Royal in a World Series game played at home. Not only was it a hit, George drove it over the wall for a solo shot and a 1-0 Royals lead that sent Royals Stadium into a frenzy.
The Royals would go onto win Game 3 on a Willie Aikens walk-off single in the tenth. However, the Royals would drop two of the next three to the Phillies and lose the series.
Though they lost the series, many of the lessons learned from that 1980 World Series would be used five years later in another World Series where the Royals faced a similar situation.
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