KC Royals have shown ‘Fighting’ Spirit for decades


MAY 2015 – It was ironic the Kansas City Royals end of April fracas occurred in Chicago with Ed Farmer one of the White Sox announcers.

In 1979 Farmer was Public Enemy No. 1 in Kansas City. Farmer may have cost the Royals winning the division that year after they had won the three previous American League West championships. On May 8, 1979, Farmer, then pitching for the Texas Rangers, broke the wrist of second baseman Frank White in the first inning and broke right fielder Al Cowen’s jaw and several of his teeth. With those two starters out for a considerable amount of time, the Royals finished second to the Angels that season.

Cowen’s claimed the pitch was intentional. He got his revenge in 1980, while with the Detroit Tigers and Farmer was pitching for the Chicago White Sox. Cowen hit a routine grounder to the shortstop, but instead of running to first base, went directly to the mound to attack an unsuspecting Farmer.

While the 2015 Royals have been involved in brouhahas, ejections and suspensions, this is nothing new.

Let’s wind the clock back to June 6, 1998 when American League president Dr. Gene Budig, the former Kansas chancellor, doled out 38 games of suspensions, plus fines, to nine players, two managers and three coaches for their roles in the Royals-Angels brawl three days earlier.

That game featured 12 ejections, five hit batters and two dugout-bullpen clearing brawls.

Royals manager Tony Muser, a former Marine, and Angels manager Terry Collins were given the severest penalties, eight-game suspensions for lack of leadership. I wonder how Ned Yost would respond to such a sentence today?

“The American League has a right to expect much from its field manager,” Budig said in a statement released by the American League. “They are, after all, the ones who chart the strategy of the game for their players and the ones who determine, in large measure, player attitudes and actions. Managers are expected to be strong leaders and epitomize the highest degree of accountability on the field.”

surplusexchange.orgI remember that incident when Royals shortstop Felix Martinez sucker punched Frank Bolick, prolonging and escalating the shoving and fisticuffs. Several Angels had ill intent in seeking out Martinez. Muser managed to free Martinez from the rugby scum and pushed him down the dugout steps and to safety.

Royals pitchers Jim Pittsley and Scott Service were suspended two games after hitting Phil Nevin and Darin Erstad with pitches. Royals coaches Jamie Quirk and Richie Dauer were fined for obscene language and excessive arguing.

Angels players suspended were Jack McDowell, Rich DeLuicia, Mike Holtz, Damon Mashore, Nevin and Bolick.

Moving back into time to the 1977 playoffs, Hal McRae bowled over Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph and then waved home Freddie Patek, who scored from second base on George Brett’s fielder’s choice ground out.

If you think Oakland’s Brett Lawrie slide was overly aggressive and dirty, which injured Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar’s knee, look at McRae’s slide into Randolph on youtube.

That led to the “Hal McRae rule,” where baserunners could not go out of the base paths or far beyond the bag on slides to take out players.

Fast-forward to Aug. 10, 2001 when Royals’ choirboy Mike Sweeney, who had never been ejected from a game, charged Tigers pitcher Jeff Weaver. Sweeney requested the umpire have Weaver move the rosin bag, which he thought was too close to the mound and a distraction. Weaver yelled a few not-so-choice words back, including questioning Sweeney’s manhood.

Sweeney, the man, soon was on top of Weaver, throwing punches. Sweeney was suspended for 10 games, which he did not appeal. It was the only time in his career Sweeney was ejected.

The day after the April fray with the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, the word “goosfraba” was written on the Royals’ board in their clubhouse. That was from the 2003 comedy “Anger Management,” starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler.

Nicholson, playing anger management therapist Buddy Rydell, would have Sandler chant the mantra “goosfraba” slowly as a calming effect to prevent anger. Yankees Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens had cameo parts in the movie.

The Royals did not invent baseball anger in 2015. It’s part of their history, baseball history.

Article by Alan Eskew

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