Monday, June 27, 2022

The Young and Younger Royals

TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Kel Kissamis of Hampshire, IL, who correctly stated the Mets last win at the Polo Grounds was 9/11/63 ironically beating the former tenants; the Giants. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.

NEW TRIVIA CONTEST:  By answering the TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY you are automatically entered into a weekly drawing for a Starbucks Gift Card.  YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. Don't forget to put your mailing address in with the answer so if you win we can send you the gift card in the mail.

ANSWER to the Trivia question in the previous column:  Mets last win at the Polo Grounds was 9/11/63 beating the former tenants; the Giants.

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NEW TRIVIA QUESTION:   Of the six Kansas City Royals age 30 or better in the 1969 season, three were pitchers. Who were they?

 Usually when an expansion team enters Major League Baseball there is a smattering of both young and older players. The Mets for example came into the league with a lot of guys past their prime and turning the corner at 30 or better. New York brought 16 plus-30 players onto the roster in the first season. The Kansas City Royals by contrast had just six in 1969. The average age of the top eight starters, minus veteran Jerry Adair, was 25. 

To be sure many were veterans already. Aside from the 32 year old Adair. Joe Foy (26) had a career with Boston, Jackie Hernandez (28) was with both the Angels and Twins, Paul Schall (26) was a four year starter with the Angels and at (24) Wally Bunker had six years in Baltimore including a 19-win season. This was a team of up and comers and young players. Ed Kirkpatrick was a real veteran at 24 having been in the majors since 1962.

Among the names who would stick around the Bigs for a while were Lou Pinella, Roger Nelson, Dick Drago, Ellie Rodriguez, Pat Kelly and Buck Martinez. Several on this team would go on to manage as well. This was a talent laden team. It must be noted the "old man" Hoyt Wilhelm was an original Royal but was traded before the season started. 

While the debut club in 1969 would only win 69 games and would finish 4th in a six team division, and was just about the same for the next season, 1971 was a break out year. The Royals would finish second winning 86 games. The highlight of the 1969 inaugural season was early on when Bob Oliver collected six hits in a nine-inning game on May 4. 

Just under 20,000 fans in southern California were on hand to see the Royals pound the Angels 15-1. Oliver homered off Pedro Borbon and added a double and four singles. He went 6 for 6 with three RBI and two Runs Scored. Kansas City collected 19 hits including homers by Foy and Pinella to back the 4-hit pitching of Roger Nelson. It gave the Royals as many wins (13) as the Angels had losses. It would be just a few years before the Royals became annual contenders with the likes of George Brett and Frank White, along with Hal McRae leading the way.

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