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A Brief History Of The Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals are a relatively young MLB team, established as a franchise in 1969. When compared to the likes of the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals, teams established in the 1870s and 1880s, they’re kinda new on the block.

The American League side has played in four World Series since being founded, winning on two occasions.

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The team’s name is derived from the American Royal, a livestock show, horse show, and rodeo held yearly in Kansas City since 1899, plus the identical names of two former Negro League teams that suited up therein, one of which included Jackie Robinson. The name was decided upon in 1968 via a name-the-team competition which attracted over 17,000 entries. An engineer named Sanford Porte won for his “Royals” name.

“Kansas City’s new baseball team should be called the Royals because of Missouri’s billion-dollar livestock income, Kansas City’s position as the nation’s leading stocker and feeder market, and the nationally known American Royal parade and pageant,” he wrote then.

The Royals, founded by businessman Ewing Kauffman, entered the AL in 1969. It was established as a result of Missouri Senator Stuart Symington insisting on a new team for the city after the last MLB team, the Athletics, moved to Oakland in 1968. The Royals have been playing at the Kauffman Stadium, which used to be called Royals Stadium, since 1973.

The Royals wasted no time becoming a force to reckon with in the AL, going to the playoffs seven times from 1976 to 1985, winning a World Series championship in the process while boasting stars such as Willie Wilson, Amos Otis, Bret Saberhagen, Hal McRae, George Brett, Frank White, and John Mayberry.

They remained a threat throughout the early 1990s but only posted one winning season from 1995 to 2012 and did not make it to the playoffs for 28 consecutive seasons (one of the longest droughts in the MLB’s wild card era) between 1986 to 2013.

The unenviable streak was snapped in 2014 after the team snatched its first wild card spot and then went to the World Series. They would lose to the San Francisco Giants in seven games.

The following season, the Royals won the franchise’s first AL Central division title and beat the New York Mets in five games to win their second World Series, they're first in 30 years.

The Royals went into the 2015 All-Star break boasting the best record in the AL (52-34) and keeping things up in the campaign's second half. They traded Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed for All-Star pitcher Johnny Cueto in July of that year. They also traded a pair of pitchers to the Oakland Athletics for utility player Ben Zobrist. 

They finished the regular season with an AL-leading regular season record of 95-67, which also marked their best record since 1980. They would play the Houston Astros in the ALDS and, having gone down 2-1, with a 6-2 deficit in Game 4, rallied back for a 9-6 win. They won the next game for a second consecutive ALCS and beat the Toronto Blue Jays in the next series to book a World Series date with the Mets, which would have prompted some wild Kansas sports betting had it been legal back then.

As mentioned above, Kansas City defeated the Mets in five games to win the World Series, beating them 7-2 in the 12th inning of Game 5. They were down 2-0 before coming back to tie the scores at 2-2 and force extra innings.

The following season saw the team return to mediocrity, however. In their defense, several key roster members suffered injuries, leading to an 81-81 record and a third-place division finish that saw them miss the playoffs.

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Whit Merrifield’s debut was one of the more positive events of the season. Still, the Royals would see their World Series-winning core torn apart in 1027 as pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a vehicle collision while Wade Davis was traded after that. 

The 2017 regular finish was slightly worse than the previous year (80-82). They missed the playoffs with a third-place finish, losing free agent stars Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer to the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres.

The team would go into rebuild mode in 2018 but hasn't shown significant improvement. 

John Sherman, then a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians, agreed to purchase the Royals from David Glass in August 2019 for a reported sum of $1 billion. The following month, manager Ned Yost announced he would be retiring at the end of the season after 10 seasons. 

They finished with a 26-34 record in 2020, a shortened season due to COVID-19, and finished 74-88 last year. They have won 57 games this season and look to be rebuilding to contend in the future.

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