Like the Phillies, the 3 time defending division champion Royals found themselves on the outside looking in when it came to the post season. Their fall from grace cost manager Whitey Herzog his job as Jim Frey replaced him after the season ended. As late as September 4th the Royals were just a game and a half back, but they couldn't find a way to right their wrongs and go on a run to take the division crown. The Royals were second in runs scored and hit a robust .282. They led the league in stolen bases by a nice margin, so their offense wasn't the issue. The issue was their normally strong pitching which ranked 10th out of 14. Not one starter managed an ERA under 4.00, except the oft injured Steve Busby (6-6, 3.63). Closer Al Hrabosky (9-4, 3.74, 11 sv) wasn't terribly reliable, so KC decided to try out a 26 year old career minor leaguer named Dan Quisenberry (3-2, 3.15, 5 sv), which was a move that would pay dividends in the near future. Focusing on the positive look no further than George Brett, who had an MVP caliber season (.329-23-107). On September 17th Brett collected his 20th triple of the season, which made him the first player to join the 20-20-20 club since Willie Mays did it back in 1957. Catcher Darrell Porter (.291-20-112) not only caught 157 games, but he hit for power and walked 121 times, while striking out just 65 times. Willie Wilson stole 83 bases and hit .315. Amos Otis knocked in 90. If the Royals got some semblance of pitching they probably could have won this division by 5 or 6, instead they finished second and cost their manager his job. Interestingly during the free agent draft the Royals used their #1 pick (#4 overall) to draft a youngster from Western PA, named Dan Marino. Seventeen Rounds later they took a kid named John Elway. I think we all know how their respective futures turned out.
Editor’s Notes: Both Tony and Jim R. sent me the photos that I used for this set. The Paschall and Nettles were photoshopped minor league cards. Someone did a great job colorizing the Throop photo. Not sure who did it since it was sent to me, but kudos just the same. I did some touch up work on the UL Washington photo to get rid of the shadows and give it a bit of a high def look. Is it just me or does the “boomer”, George Scott, look really out of place in a KC blue uni ? I somehow picture him in a Red Sox uni flashing his trademark gold capped tooth smile.