This Date In Royals History–1980 Edition: April 9

The Royals held a workout at Royals Stadium ahead of Opening Day, where they would face the Detroit Tigers. Kansas City planned to send Dennis Leonard to the mound, while Tigers manager Sparky Anderson tabbed Jack Morris for the starting assignment.

Despite a successful spring training mark of 15-8, the Royals had reason to be concerned as they faced the start of the season without two key pieces. Catcher Darrell Porter had left the team early in spring training to seek treatment for substance abuse. He was placed on the disabled list and was not expected to return until early May. Then, center fielder Amos Otis had injured a finger during batting practice just a couple of days before the team left spring training. He too was placed on the DL.

Off the field, the Royals were undergoing a tumultuous time. Several players had publicly expressed displeasure with their salaries, with Paul Splittorff saying “I don’t think we’re the 19th-best team in baseball,” referring to Kansas City’s rank in payroll in the majors. Frank White and Hal McRae also went on record as being unhappy. Elsewhere, outfielder/first baseman Pete LaCock had not been pleased with the trade for Willie Aikens and said he thought he should be the starting right fielder, while management expected Clint Hurdle to play there. LaCock basically announced he intended to move on after the season. General manager Joe Burke answered the criticisms by saying the Royals would not renegotiate contracts, and especially would not do so in the media.

And all major leaguers except one (rumored to be Royals infielder Jerry Terrell) had voted to boycott the last week of spring training games and also to go on strike in mid-May unless a new basic agreement could be reached with the owners (the main issue of contention was compensation rules for teams losing free agents). 

With all of that going on, it was going to be a relief for Royals fans to have actual games starting.

Today’s birthdays: Hal Morris (1965), Graeme Lloyd (1967), Ryan McBroom (1992)

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