As another year of Major League Baseball closes in on us, fans and teams find themselves full of hope. Even as a lifelong Kansas City Royals fan, baseball in early March even looks promising for us (until the first box scores come in at least) and anything is possible come April. All of the familiar sights and sounds of the greatest game ever created come back to life with the crack of the bat and pop of the ball hitting the glove. We may be mathematically eliminated by May again this year, but it will never stop me from enjoying the game. I am ready for a spring Saturday to open my windows, lie on the couch with a frosty brew and relax with baseball again. In this state of preseason euphoria, I have been thinking about my all-time favorite Royals. I was barely one year old when the Royals celebrated their last World Series Championship and it got progressively more ugly from that point forward. But like I said, every season brings you a rejuvenated sense of thinking “Maybe this is our year….” no matter how jaded you were last September. Here is my top ten favorite Royals players of all time as well as a few honorable mentions:
1. George Brett – This is a no-brainer. I was raised on the legacy of George Howard Brett courtesy of my Dad and he will forever be number one.
2. Bo Jackson – Everybody loved Bo, and it was even better for me because during his baseball prime he played for my team. I had a Best of TWIB (This Week In Baseball) VHS tape that had a section dedicated to Bo Jackson and it was absolutely amazing, and I would bet that if I watched it today I would still get goosebumps.
3. Zack Greinke – It only took me yelling his name for 10 minutes to get him to pick up my sunglasses I dropped from the warning track in Pittsburgh, but I still love him. I guess he still has that social anxiety.
4. Brett Saberhagen – Arguably the best pitcher in Royals history, two-time Cy Young Award winner and led to the genius birth of the fantasy juggernaut Kansas City Lightsaberhagens.
5. Mark Gubizca – He had a great name, used a blue glove and I can still see his 1990 Donruss baseball card in my head.
6. Willie Wilson – The fastest Royal to ever live (take that Johnny Damon) and he was a defensive dynamo as well, winning multiple Gold Gloves during his tenure in Kansas City.
7. Joakim Soria – The world’s largest living Mexican is a pitcher for the Royals. He has a Twitter account that he uses to tweet in half English, half Spanish, and one time we talked about it during batting practice before a game.
8. Danny Tartabull – A good portion of my Royals favorites were players I grew up liking during the early 1990s, whom happened to be outfielders with big bats and funny names. Tartabull fit the bill and also made great cameo appearances on Seinfeld (unfortunately as a Yankee, not a Royal).
9. Matt Stairs – He looked like a beer league softball player and swung for the fences EVERY time. He also bore a striking resemblance to my Uncle Steve Lancaster and so I called him “Uncle Steve”.
10. Picking a tenth to round out the list was very tough. There are a slew of fun pitchers and middling OFs that I always really liked, as well as a crop of young stars that haven’t played enough to work their way into All-Time status so for now I am leaving it open and maybe someone can catapult their way into my heart this year.
Honorable Mentions: Billy Butler, Frank White, Storm Davis, Dan Quisenberry, Amos Otis, Kevin Seitzer, Hal & Brian McRae, the OF trio of Damon/Beltran/Dye