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 Major League record for hits by one player in a nine-inning game is seven, set by Rennie Stennett of Pittsburgh in 1975. One hundred and fifteen players have collected six hits in a nine-inning game. The Royals wasted no time adding a player to that list; Bob Oliver accomplished it less than a month into the team’s first season, in a game in Anaheim on May 4, 1969. The 2004 Royals were a sorry excuse for a baseball team, but Joe Randa provided a highlight in Detroit on September 9 when he also picked up six hits in nine innings (you may recall this was a doubleheader; the Royals won the first game 26-5, then got shutout in the second game, because of course they did).
But in between those two, one Royal managed to accomplish the feat in Royals Stadium. On August 2, 1987, Kevin Seitzer battered Boston Red Sox pitching for six hits in the Royals’ 13-5 win. In a way, Seitzer might have had the most impressive showing of the three; both Oliver and Randa got their sixth hit in the ninth inning, an advantage Seitzer didn’t have. Seitzer also had more total bases (13) than Oliver (10) or Randa (7), thanks to hitting two home runs and a double.
August 2 was a Sunday, so you can guess what that meant: a blistering hot day on the artificial turf. Temperatures climbed above the 100-degree mark in much of the Midwest, including Kansas City. Team officials said the heat on the field reached 154 degrees. Despite a 50-53 record, the Royals were still in the race in the AL West, in fourth place and only five games behind Minnesota. Seitzer was enjoying a terrific rookie season, hitting .313/.388/.450 entering the game. He had also represented the Royals at the All-Star Game. But, as he told reporters after his big day, he had told his wife the night before he was disappointed he hadn’t had a four-hit day in the majors yet.
“I’ve had three and couldn’t go any further,” he said. “She just always tells me, ‘I know you can hit. So don’t worry about it.’ When she handed me (their son) Brandon after the game, she was bawling.”
Batting second in the lineup, Seitzer reached on an infield single in the first inning against Boston starter Bob Stanley. George Brett followed with a ground-rule double, and Seitzer scored on Danny Tartabull’s groundout.
The Royals trailed 2-1 when Seitzer came to bat in the third. Leading off the inning, he took Stanley deep for his eighth home run of the season. The Royals would pick up three singles later in the inning, only for Steve Balboni to bounce into an inning-ending double play to keep the score 2-2.
Following singles from Ross Jones and Lonnie Smith (and a sacrifice bunt in between), Seitzer came up again in the fourth. He singled to right field, giving the Royals a 3-2 lead. Tartabull would later deliver an RBI single, pushing the lead to 4-2 and ending Stanley’s afternoon.
Steve Crawford replaced Stanley and got the final out of the fourth, but walked Bill Pecota to start the fifth, then allowed a run-scoring double to Balboni. With two outs, Smith singled, and Seitzer followed with his second home run of the day, giving the Royals a commanding 8-3 lead.
Seitzer added a seventh-inning single against Tom Bolton, although nothing came of it and the score remained 8-3. He would be due up sixth in the eighth inning, so the Royals would need either a rally or to blow the lead to get him another at-bat. Fortunately, they chose the former. Kansas City tagged Calvin Schiraldi for two singles and a double in the eighth, although Schiraldi did strike out two batters. Smith’s double with two outs kept the inning alive for Seitzer, who hit a fly ball to deep right field. Mike Greenwell appeared to lose the ball in the sun, and it fell in safely, missing Greenwell’s glove by inches before bouncing over the fence for a ground-rule double and two more runs. Brett followed with a home run for a 13-3 lead. Boston would manage two meaningless runs in the ninth for the final margin.
Seitzer raised his batting average 11 points on the day. He also tied Brett’s team record for total bases in a game (since broken by Kendrys Morales), tied the team record with seven RBI in one game (since broken by Mike Moustakas), and broke the team marks for rookies with 64 runs scored and 39 extra-base hits.
“I’ll probably never have a feeling like I had today,” Seitzer said after the game. “Everything was just perfect today. I caught every break I could possibly catch. Every ball I hit hard dropped. Last night I hit two line drives that got caught. If this had been a night game, that (ground-rule double) would have been an out.”