Note: April 10, 2023 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first game at Royals/Kauffman Stadium. Each week, I will look at one memorable moment in stadium history, with the top moment revealed on April 10, 2023. Missed an entry? You can find past ones here.
The 2019 season was one to forget for the Royals, who finished with a 59-103 record, but the last game of the season marked the end of not one, but two, eras in Kansas City baseball.
At the end of August, owner David Glass announced that he had reached an agreement to sell the franchise to Kansas City native John Sherman. While the deal would not be approved by Major League Baseball until after the season, everyone understood that was pretty much a formality. After all, it probably wouldn’t be announced if there was a chance it wouldn’t happen. Sherman was a minority owner of the Cleveland Indians at the time, so he was already “in the club,” as it were.
Just a few weeks later, manager Ned Yost announced he would retire at the end of the season. Since Glass had owned the team since 2000 (and, of course, was part of the group running the franchise in the interim between Ewing Kauffman’s death and Glass officially buying the team), there were plenty of fans who had known nothing but Glass being in charge. Meanwhile, Yost had been in the Royals’ dugout since early in the 2010 season. Clearly, big changes were afoot.
Now, let’s be honest. For most of those years, Royals fans were not exactly enamored with either Glass or Yost. Early in his tenure as owner, Glass often seemed more interested in keeping costs low than winning. For years, Royals fans busted out “Yosted” on social media when the team ran into outs on the bases or tried bunting in the first inning or any number of managerial decisions that didn’t work out.
As mentioned last week, that all began changing in 2013. The Royals finished with their first winning record in a decade. The next year, they came within an eyelash of winning the World Series, then finished the job in 2015. Already comfortably ahead in the division race, the Royals added Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist at the 2015 trade deadline, moves that signaled ownership was willing to add payroll to win. Yost began to be viewed as the steady hand guiding the ship, especially when the team overcame a 6-2 deficit with six outs left in their season in the 2015 ALDS, then outlasted a tremendous Toronto Blue Jays team.
Perhaps those feelings had faded a bit after 2015, but for Yost especially, there was still quite a bit of warmth from Royals fans. The core of the 2014-15 teams had left as free agents, and the franchise was sort of treading water until the next youth movement could begin in earnest, so I believe very few fans blamed Yost for the back-to-back 100-loss seasons in 2018 and 2019.
The game itself, despite being meaningless in the standings, turned out to be memorable. The Minnesota Twins scored three runs in the first inning, then the Royals clawed back to tie it in the fourth. Royals starter Jorge Lopez gave up his third homer of the game to start the fifth, putting the Twins back in front. Eventually, the Royals were down to their last six outs against a team that had won 101 games that season. But they didn’t quit, a credit to their manager. Hunter Dozier led off the eighth with a triple and scored the tying run on Ryan O’Hearn’s double. In the ninth, Humberto Arteaga led off with a double. Nick Dini singled, and Brett Phillips hit a line drive to right field. Arteaga beat the throw home, giving Yost his 746th and final win as Royals manager.
Yost received an honorary “Salvy Splash” on the field after the game from two holdovers from the championship team, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon. In an on-field interview, he thanked the fans, then walked down the tunnel to the clubhouse for the last time. It was a good ending, a happy ending, to what you might term the second era of Royals history.
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