Hans Mount Rushmore of all time greats today- focuses on the Kansas City Royals. The Royals came into the league in 1969 with the second expansion- they will be opening their 51st season up later this month.
- GEORGE BRETT- The greatest Royal of all-time. He was born about 20 minutes from where I live-but the family moved to California when he was just a couple months old- which probably did wonders for his career- and his older brother Ken’s who also had a long career in the big leagues. Has the most hits of any third baseman in baseball history. Great all around hitter is one of only four players to at least 3000 hits, 300 home runs and a career batting average over .300. He is also the only hitter to win battling titles in three different decades. He was one of my favorite players during the 70’s and 80’s when he played- he played hard. With Brett the two things that immediately come to mind are the Pin Tar Incident in the game Billy Martin and the New York Yankees and in 1980 the run he had at .400 when he came up short with a .390 average. No one has hit .400 since Teddy F. Ballgame in 1941. Brett is also credited with coming up with the term The Mendoza Line- which is used to define a sub-par batting average- a below .200 average which just doesn’t cut it in the major leagues. Mendoza was the light hitting but slick fielding shortstop Mario Mendoza. One of the 5 greatest third baseman ever- IMHO. While I certainly liked Brett more- I had to say the best third baseman I have ever seen and the GOAT is Mike Schmidt a contemporary of Brett’s who played with the Phillies.
2. BRET SABERHAGEN- Saberhagen won two Cy Young Awards as a Royal-he was in the majors at the age of 20 -he won the Cy Young Award and won 20 games at the age of 21 the ace of the Royals staff when they won the World Series in 1985. He was traded to the Mets in the early 90’s. His best seasons were as a young pitcher in Kansas City. Had a very good career but injuries held him back-and he got into an odd funk where every other year he would have a standout season- and off year and then bounce back to have another good year. You never know with pitchers- but the pitcher he was with the Royals seemed to be on the road to the Hall of Fame. After leaving the Royals he only had one big season- again injuries and pitchers- you just never know- they are pitch to pitch.
3. DAN QUISENBERRY- Quisenberry was the Royals closer during their glory years in the 1980-s he led the American League in saves 5 times in a 6 year period from 1980-85. He was just as famous for his submarine style of pitching- and for his humorous quotes. He wasn’t the typical closer who came in and blew the fastball past the hitters- he didn’t have much of a fastball. He learned his submarine style of pitching from the Pirates Kent Tekulve -because he had to come up with to confuse the hitters. He had great control-he has the lowest ratio of base on balls per innings pitched for any pitcher to pitch in the major leagues since the 1920s. My favorite quote by Dan was “I’ve seen the future and it’s much like the present, only longer.” After his career he became a poet. Sadly he died at the age of 45 in 1998 of brain cancer.
4. AMOS OTIS- The Royals have had a lot of pretty good-but not great players in their history- when it came to the final slot on Mount Rushmore I considered Frank White one of the best fielding second baseman in baseball history, outfielder Willie Wilson and starting pitchers Mark Appier and Mark Gubicza before settling on Amos Otis-Otis was a center fielder for the Royals for 14 seasons 1970-83 and was a fine all around player- hit for some power, average, had good speed and was an outstanding defensive player. He was a 5 time All-Star and won 3 Gold Gloves. He was one of those type players who never had a monster season but was always consistently good.