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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Kansas City Royals Uniform and Team History



Please click on the evolution of the Royals uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.

1969


The Kansas City Royals joined the American League as an expansion team in 1969 along with the Seattle Pilots, thus increasing the AL from 10 to 12 teams. The Royals began playing at Municipal Stadium, the former home of the Kansas City Athletics, who moved to Oakland for the 1968 season after being in KC since 1955. Thus with the introduction of the Royals in 1969, Kansas City went only one year without a major league team since 1955.

1969 was a first for MLB – it marked the introduction of “Divisions” and an extra round of playoffs that saw the AL and NL Division winners square off for the right to advance to the World Series – prior to 1969 there was simply an AL and NL Champ, and they would meet each other in the World Series.

The Royals’ first season saw them go 69-93 to finish fourth in the brand new six-team AL West – ahead of the White Sox and the lowly Seattle Pilots.

The Royals’ road uniform shown here is gray in color with the word “Kansas City” spelled out in blue letters across the chest. “Kansas City” also has a “swoosh” underlining it. The “swoosh” was introduced to baseball by the 1932 Cubs, and has been worn by many teams since then. Note also the blue piping around the collar, sleeves and down the pants.

The commemorative patch on the left sleeve is in honor of the 100th year of professional baseball, and was worn by all major league teams in 1969. The patch has the Major League Baseball logo and “100” on it, and celebrates the Cincinnati Red Stockings 1869 team that was the first openly professional team and went 65-0 in a nationwide barnstorming season.


1971


Note how similar this 1971 home uniform is to the 2001 home uniform. For 1971 the Royals added a new logo to the left sleeve, a logo that is still the same today. The patch, circular in shape, feature a blue home plate with a white ”R” in the middle of it and “KC” in top right corner in gold. Above the plate is a gold crown indicating “royalty”.

The 1971 Royals finish second in the AL West with a record of 85-76, a remarkable achievement for a team in only their third season of existence. Building the team on speed, they led the league in stolen bases with 130, 47 more than the 2nd place Chicago White Sox. Center fielder Amos Otis finished atop the league with 52 steals, while teammate shortstop Freddie Patek was right behind him with 49.

Two years after this (in 1973) the Royals would move into a brand new home, Royals Stadium. From left center to right center there are no seats, giving the Stadium a tremendous open feeling. In its place would be grassy areas, a crown shaped scoreboard and a 322-foot-wide waterfall and fountain. Royals Stadium was also host to the 1973 All Star game.


1976


As we see on this 1976 road uniform, the Royals have adopted a new, all-blue look. This design actually started in ’73. The letters on the front have also changed to block capital letters as opposed to the earlier flowing script. This road jersey is of a double-knit style that most major league teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a pullover style, made of stretchy, synthetic material. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt”’s because the elasticized waistline eliminated the need for a belt. The 1970 Pirates were the first double-knit - sans-a-belt team, and the Cards and Astros joined them in 1971. By 1975 two thirds of major league teams had joined the double-knit parade.

1976 was a banner year for the Royals and they finished atop the AL West in manager Whitey Herzog’s first full season. The team’s record was a tidy 90-72. George Brett led the team on the field with a league leading .333 batting average.

In their first post-season appearance, the Royals faced the Yankees and promptly fell behind two games to one in the best-of-five affair. The Royals came back to win game 4 to force a fifth and deciding game, to be played in New York. Down 6-3 going into the 8th, the Royals scored three runs to tie it at six. Unfortunately for the Royals, Yankee first baseman Chris Chambliss clobbered a home run in the bottom of the 9th to lead the Yanks to the World Series. Picking up where he left off, George Brett had a great series - batting .444 with a homer, a double, a triple and 5 RBI. But it wasn’t enough and the Royals had to watch the Yankees advance to the World Series for the 30th? Time.

And worse yet, the Royals would face the Yankees in the post-season again in 1977 and 1978, and they lost both of those series as well (in ’77 they lost 3 games to 2, while in 1978 they fell 3-1).


1980


This 1980 home jersey is of a double-knit style that most major league teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a pullover style, made of stretchy, synthetic material. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt”’s because the elasticized waistline eliminated the need for a belt. The 1970 Pirates were the first double-knit - sans-a-belt team, and the Cards and Astros joined them in 1971. By 1975 two thirds of major league teams had joined the double-knit parade.

After losing the AL Championship Series three years in a row from ’76 to ’78 to the Yankees, (in ’76 and ’77 they lost 3-2 and in ’78 lost 3-1) they took a year off from the post season but were back at in 1980.

Once again they faced the Yanks, but this time the Royals prevailed. The Royals claimed their first pennant in three straight games, outscoring the Yanks 14-6 in the three games.

In their first fall classic, they took on the Philadelphia Phillies who were also in the hunt for their first championship in their 100 year+ existence – someone was going to win the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

Philly took the first two games at home, but it was a different story when the Royals came home. Game 3 ended in the 10th inning with the Royals winning 4-3, and they evened the series the next day winning 5-3.

Game 5 was also in Kansas City, and the Royals led 3-2 going into the top of the ninth, but for the second time in the series the Phillies got to Royals stopped Dan Quisenberry, scoring 2 runs in the process for a 4-3 win. Game 6 was in Philly and the Royals loaded the bases twice, but Phillies’ reliever Tug McGraw shut them down both times. The game ended 4-1 for the Phils, and the Phillies won their first World Series ever.

But we can’t leave the 1980 season without tipping our cap to the Royals’ George Brett. During the regular season Brett flirted with the coveted .400 mark, but by season’s end he had to settle for a .390 average, the batting title and the league MVP award. Brett dropped below .400 on September 6th, but gave baseball fans across America a wild ride right up to the last week of the season. Then in the ALCS against the Yankees, Brett hit .273 with 2 homers and 4 RBI. In the World Series he hit .375 with 1 home run and 3 RBI. A remarkable year for a remarkable player.


1985


Both these home and road uniforms show the team has thankfully left the double-knit jersey and “Sans-a-Belt” pants behind (this was abandoned in 1983). Buttons-down-the-front are back and note also the fact that numbers are on the front of the jersey (this was introduced by the Royals for the 1st time in ’83). Uniform numbers first made their appearance on the front of a uniform in 1952 - the Brooklyn Dodgers were the first team to wear uniform numbers on the front of their jersey. The Braves followed suit in 1953, and the Reds joined in beginning in 1956. The 1916 Cleveland Indians actually wore a uniform number on their sleeve, but it wasn’t until the ’52 Dodgers that the number made it to the front.

The Royals finished the 1985 season with a 91-71 record to claim their second straight AL West division title (the Royals lost to the Tigers in three straight games in the 1984 ALCS). In the ALCS Royals faced the upstart Toronto Blue Jays for the pennant in a best-of-seven affair.

The Royals lost the first two games in Toronto then came back in KC to win game three with George Brett going four-for-four at the plate, with four runs and 3 RBI. They would fall the next day to go down 3 games to 1, almost an insurmountable lead for the Jays. The key word here is “Almost”! The Royals shut out the Blue Birds 2-0 in game five in Kansas City, and then had to travel back to Toronto for games 6 and 7. The Royals tied the series with a win in game six, thus forcing a seventh and deciding game in Toronto. In game 7 the Royals left no doubt - the Royals led all the way and beat the Jays 6-2 for their second pennant (the first being in 1980).

In the “All-Missouri” World Series, the Royals took on the speedy St. Louis Cardinals, who led the Major Leagues in stolen bases this season with 314, compared to the Royals’ 128.

The Cards jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the series winning both games in Kansas City. The Royals won game three 6-1 behind the strong pitching of Brett Saberhagen. The next day they would find themselves in a hole once again as they lost game four 3-0 to fall behind 3 games to 1. Could lightning strike twice in the same post season?

Sure enough, the Royals took game five 6-1 in St. Louis and headed home to try to finish the job. Game Six provided a lot of drama that Cardinals fans can never forget. With the Cards leading 1-0 going into the bottom of the ninth, there is a disputed play at first, followed by a passed by and an intentional walk. That set the stage for Dane Iorg’s dramatic two run pinch single in the bottom of the ninth and the series was tied 3-3.

On to Game 7 – potentially the most dramatic game in all of baseball.

Saberhagen once again took the mound for the deciding game and this time pitched a five hit gem. But forget the drama – Saberhagen and the Royals left no doubt in anyone’s mind as they took their first World Series Championship on the strength of an 11-0 blowout. Saberhagen was named the Series MVP with his two wins and miniscule 0.50 ERA. He capped off a remarkable year by being named the team’s first Cy Young award winner. The hitting stars were George Brett, who went 10 for 27 for a .370 average, Willie Wilson who hit .367 and Lonnie Smith who hit .333.


1992


As we see on this road uniform the Royals have made some slight alterations to their jersey since 1985. The team name and the numbers on the front of the jersey now have a white border. The trim around the sleeves is much thinner and there is no trim/piping at all around the collar. They have also gone back to the gray road jersey as opposed to the all-blue style that began in 1973. The patch on the right sleeve with the initials “JRB” are in memory of the Royals’ President and General Manager Joe Burke, who passed away this year.

Although this season was a sub-par year for the team – they finished sixth in the AL West with a 72-90 record - Kansas City fans did have something to cheer about. On September 30th 1992 George Brett collected his 3000th hit to join the elite 3000 hit club. He would go on to play one more season, eventually finishing with a remarkable 3154 hits.


1993


On this home uniform the team made an addition to their logo on the left sleeve patch. The addition of the letters “EMK” above the crown paid respects to the Royals’ owner Ewing Marion Kauffman who passed away this season. The next season the team would rename Royals Stadium “Kauffman Stadium” in his honor. On the right sleeve is a patch celebrating the team’s 25th anniversary (1969-1993).

The Royals finished a respectable third in the AL West this season with a record of 84-78, but more importantly they said goodbye to future Hall of Famer George Brett. Brett played 21 years in the majors, all with the Royals, finishing with a career batting average of .305 and 3154 hits, placing him14th on the all time hit list. Always a fan favorite known for his modest ways and competitive spirit, The people of Kansas City and George Brett enjoyed a 21 year affair.


1995


This wonderful and unique red jersey is a throwback jersey that the Royals wore several times in1995 in honor of the Kansas City Monarchs who played in the Negro League in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. This jersey is one of the most unique ones we’ve seen. The base color is white with red and blue trim. The patch on the left sleeve is a blue heart with a white and red “KC” in it. The patch on the right sleeve commemorates the 75th anniversary of the founding of Negro League.

This throwback jersey is also referred to as a “3rd jersey”. The 3rd jersey is a concept that became commonplace by the mid 90’s. Most 3rd jerseys are worn occasionally at home as well as on the road, giving a team a third option as to what uniform to wear. And of course, the addition of a third jersey adds to the options fans can buy, thereby increasing apparel revenues and ultimately benefiting the team. More recently, teams have begun adding 4th and even 5th jerseys to their roster of uniform possibilities.


The second uniform shown is the Royals’ 1995 road jersey. They have gone back to the traditional “KANSAS CITY” on the front, a style they haven’t worn since 1982. The letters “MIK” on the right sleeve are in memory of owner Muriel Irene Kauffman who passed away this season. In 1993 the Royals wore the letters “EMK” on the left sleeve to pay respect to her husband and then Royals owner Ewing Marion Kauffman. As noted earlier, in 1993 the team renamed Royals Stadium “Kauffman Stadium” in his honor.

The 1995 Royals finished in second place in the 4 team AL Central with a record of 70-74, 30 games behind the remarkable and un-catchable Cleveland Indians. The standout players for the 1995 Royals were Wally Joyner who hit .310 with 83 RBI, and Gary Gaetti who hit .261 with 35 homers and 96 RBI.


1998


This is a 3rd uniform. Note that this jersey is now a darker blue than what we have seen in the past – it’s now more of a royal blue. The 3rd jersey is a concept that became commonplace by the mid 90’s. Most 3rd jerseys are worn occasionally at home as well as on the road, giving a team a third option as to what uniform to wear. And of course, the addition of a third jersey adds to the options fans can buy, thereby increasing apparel revenues and ultimately benefiting the team. More recently, teams have begun adding 4th and even 5th jerseys to their roster of uniform possibilities.

Although the Royals were a below .500 team in ’98 (they finished with a 72-89 record for third place in the 5 team AL Central), they welcomed three young stars who gave fans a taste of things to come - Mike Sweeney, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran.


1999


This is a very simple blue jersey with a white “KC” on the front. This is a “throwback” style jersey, but unlike most throwbacks worn by other teams, it doesn’t actually represent a jersey previously worn by the Royals, rather it is patterned after what the Major League Royals might have worn had the team been in existence in the 20’s or 30’s. This is an elegant jersey and a wonderful addition to the Royals’ uniform.

Former Royal George Brett was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this season, but on the field the team didn’t fair too well. The ’99 Royals finished with a 64-97 record, ending up fourth in the AL Central, 32½ games out of first. At seasons’ end Royals outfielder Carlos Beltran was named the AL Rookie of the Year, finishing the season with 22 homer runs, 108 RBI and a .293 batting average.

Two other young Royals came into their own as well – how are these for numbers: Mike Sweeney - 22 home runs; 102 RBI; .322 BA, and Jermaine Dye - 27 home runs; 119 RBI; .294 BA.


2001


The home uniform we show here is the traditional Royals look that has stayed remarkably consistent since the team began – see the 1971 uniform pictured earlier. The patch on the right sleeve is for the celebration of the American League’s 100th Season Anniversary. Every AL team wore this patch, with the 4 “charter members” of the AL wearing a slight variation that acknowledged their being Charter Members of the American League in 1901 (these four were the Red Sox, the White Sox, the Indians and the Tiger).

The Royals finished the 2001 season in the AL Central basement with a 65-97 record, 26 games behind the Cleveland Indians. Mike Sweeney and Carlos Beltran led the Royals at the plate, with Sweeney hitting .304, 29 homers and 99 RBI, and Beltran hitting .306 with 24 homers and 101 RBI.


2007


Text not yet written but enjoy this 2007 Royals' road jersey.

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Celebrate the Royals' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Kansas City Royals and the history of the Royals franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 14 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 14 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.

These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)



If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Kansas City Royals YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPxftxuZzo0 or go directly to the artwork website www.heritagesportsart.com/Kansas-City-Royals-c146/ where you can see and purchase the artwork.

E. Stadium artwork
Please note that the actual original, hand drawn pen and ink sketches used for the 2 ballpark images shown above are available for sale as a complete collection to one Royals fan. If you are interested in being the owner of this complete and original collection of Kansas City Royals home ballpark images, please contact me by email ssillcox@rogers.com and I can explain how they can all be framed in one beautiful piece.

And please search my blog archive http://heritagejerseys.blogspot.com/ for other blogs on the history of the Royals.

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This text was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 21, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at ssillcox@rogers.com !

Many thanks!!!
Scott

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