Royals Top 50 Moments: No. 35-31

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The Royals are celebrating their 50th season.  The following is a Top 50 list of the greatest moments in Royals history.  Today is 35-31

Nos. 50-46

Nos. 46-41

Nos. 40-36

35.  Bo Jackson throws out Harold Reynolds…From the Wall!!!

The 1989 Kansas City Royals were arguably the best team in Royals history not to make the postseason.  A big reason for their 92-70 season was the contributions of one Vincent “Bo” Jackson.

The legend of Bo Jackson was a remarkable one (if you haven’t watched the 30 for 30 on Bo Jackson, you either live under a rock or you really need to).  However, the No. 35 moment happened on June 5, 1989 in the Kingdome in Seattle. 

The Royals and Mariners were tied at three in the bottom of the tenth.  The speedy Harold Reynolds (who led the American League in stolen bases in 1987, the only year a guy by the name of Rickey Henderson didn’t take home the crown in the 1980s) was on first when Scott Bradley came to the plate. 

Reynolds took off on a 3-2 pitch that Bradley hit into the left-field corner.  The only way to catch the speedy Reynolds was with the perfect throw.  Bo picked up the ball near the wall, turned, and threw a strike to Bob Boone at home plate.  The ball arrived just as Reynolds was sliding towards home.  Boone, a Gold Glove catcher, caught the ball and placed the tag on Reynolds before he touched the plate.  Reynolds was in disbelief, the crowd was in disbelief, the Royals dugout was in disbelief.  It was 331 feet from home plate to the foul pole in left.  Bo threw the ball, on a line from about 350 feet away from home to nab Reynolds.

The Royals would eventually win the game, 5-3, in thirteen innings.

34.  3-Peat!  The Royals win the American League West 3x in a Row!

The 1978 season marked the Royals tenth year in existence and they had quickly rose to be one of the most successful franchises of the 1970s.  They had overcome the Oakland Athletics to take the American League Western Division in 1976.  They won 102 games in 1977 (more on that in a moment).

The 1978 Royals were led by veteran center-fielder, Amos Otis, who hit .298 with 22 home runs and 96 RBIs.  The pitching staff was led by 21-game winner, Dennis Leonard, who started forty (40!) games in 1978, completing twenty (20!!!).  The Royals also got nineteen wins from veteran lefty, Paul Splittorff, and a 16-4 record from Larry Gura.

On August 27th, the Royals beat the Texas Rangers, 4-2, and took a half-game lead in the division.  It was a lead the Royals would never relinquish.  The Royals would finish 92-70, five games ahead of the second-place California Angels and the Rangers.

Though, for the third-straight season, the Royals would lose in the American League Championship to the New York Yankees, it marked the third-straight year that Whitey Herzog would lead the Royals to the postseason.

33.  Carlos Beltran’s Opening Day Walk-Off

The Royals went into 2004 with high expectations, including some in the baseball world predicting them to end their postseason drought by winning the American League Central.  General Manager, Allard Baird, went out and signed two big-name free agents in Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago.  They had Carlos Beltran patrolling center-field as well as Mike Sweeney being the reliable All-Star he was.  Moreover, the Royals were coming off a season in which they finished 83-79, their first winning season since 1994.

On Opening Day in 2004, the Royals faced off against their division rivals, the Chicago White Sox.  The game did not start the way Royals fans would have hoped.  Brian Anderson gave up five-runs in five innings.  Shawn Camp gave up two over the next two innings before Nate Field and D.J. Carrasco settled things down. 

Going into the ninth, the Royals trailed 7-3.  After Joe Randa and Ken Harvey walked to start off the ninth, Benito Santiago drove in Randa on a double down the left-field line.  After an Aaron Guiel strikeout, up came pinch-hitter, Mendy Lopez.  Lopez, who hit only six home runs in his major league career, drove a 3-1 pitch from Damaso Marte over the center-field wall to tie the game.

After 2003 Rookie of the Year, Angel Berroa, singled, Carlos Beltran came up to the plate.  Beltran, in the final year of his contract, was looking to have a break out season that many had predicted him to have.  Beltran jumped on a 2-2 fastball and killed the baseball off the Mountain Dew sign in the fountains in left-field, winning the game, 9-7, and giving Royals fans hope for great things in 2004.

Unfortunately, for Royals fans, that was the highlight of their season.  They would finish 58-104, though Beltran would see postseason action that year…in Houston.

32.  Royals win 102 games

There have been many great teams in Royals history.  Four of them (1980, 1985, 2014, 2015) have won a pennant and two (1985, 2015) have won a World Series.  However, none of those teams won 100 games in the regular season.  The only team in Royals history to achieve that?

The 1977 Kansas City Royals.

The Royals were stacked around the diamond.  They had Darrell Porter behind the plate, John Mayberry at first, Frank White at second, Freddie Patek at short, George Brett at third, Tom Poquette in left, Amos Otis patrolling center, Al Cowens roaming right, and Hal McRae was the designated hitter.  Five of the hitters hit .275 or better, four had more than twenty home runs, six had double-digits in stolen bases.

The pitching was even better.  Dennis Leonard was the ace of the staff, winning twenty games and had twenty-one (21!!!!) complete games while setting a team-record for strikeouts with 244 (a record that still stands today).  Jim Colborn won eighteen and even threw a no-hitter on May 14th against the Texas Rangers.  Lefty Paul Splittorff finished 16-6 and gave the New York Yankees fits in the American League Championship Series.  The bullpen was solid, with three pitchers earning double-digit saves.

On June 16th, the Royals were shutout by the Yankees, 7-0.  The Royals stood at 28-31 and seven games behind the division leading Minnesota Twins.

After this date, the Royals would go 74-29, including a 16-game winning streak from August 31-September 15.  The Royals would take over first-place on August 20th.  They would turn, at their worst, a 7 ½ game deficit to win the division by 8 games.

Though the Yankees would, again, defeat the Royals in five-games in the ALCS, they won 102 games.  A feat, in the regular season, that has not been accomplished by seven playoff teams, four pennant winners, and two World Championship teams since.

31.  Paul Splittorff wins 20-games

No list would be complete without having the Royals all-time leader in wins, the late Paul Splittorff.

Paul was one of the original Royals.  In fact, he threw the first pitch for any team in the Royals organization for the Corning Royals.

1973 was a break out season for Splitt.  He started out by winning his first three games, going the distance in his first two and shutting out the Chicago White Sox.  In the first-half of the season, Paul was 12-5 with a 3.50 ERA and nine complete games.  Though Splittorff would cool off in the second-half of the season, on September 26th, Splittorff earned his fifth straight victory and became the first Royals pitcher to win twenty games in a season. 

Splittorff would became a mainstay in the Royals rotation during their successful years in the late 1970s that would win three division titles.  Splitt would stay with the organization after he retired.  Becoming a color commentator for Royals games on television until his death in 2011.

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Christopher Till

Author: Christopher Till

Christopher is a lifelong Royals fan who loves long walks on the beach, sunsets, and trips to #DongTown. He also loves writing about the Royals (pants optional). Ian Kennedy once ruined a perfect game Chris had going (though, to be fair, Chris' pitch came before the game with nobody in the batter's box). His favorite Royals' memory is sitting in Section 401 with his daughter when Salvador Perez laced a line drive past Josh Donaldson to win the 2014 American League Wild Card Game.

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