The Curse of Joe Beckwith
By David Hill
Let us take a trip back in time, approximately 28.5 years ago, to October 27th, 1985 to be exact. That day, the Kansas City Royals were celebrating their Game Seven victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, leading to their first World Series victory. That night was the culmination of the Royals decade of dominance, where they were one of the preeminent franchises in baseball.
A key piece of the bullpen was a pitcher by name of Joe Beckwith. While he was not the best pitcher in the Royals bullpen that season, he served as one of the Royals key setup men, producing a 1-5 record with a 4.07 ERA, striking out 80 batters in 95 innings of work. Beckwith appeared in more games than any other pitcher aside from Dan Quisenberry, and helped to lead the Royals to the playoffs.
However, that would be the last time Beckwith would appear in a Royals uniform during an official major league game. On March 28th, 1986, Beckwith was released by the Kansas City Royals, eventually signing with the Toronto Blue Jays before moving on to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he finished out his career.
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Perhaps, as he was departing from the Kansas City clubhouse for the final time after being handed his walking papers, Joe Beckwith uttered some sort of profane statement, wishing ill upon his former team. Perhaps, deep in his heart, he felt some sort of hatred and anger for being unceremoniously released, not even five months after helping to lead the Royals to a World Series championship. Perhaps, as he walked through the door that last time, he wished that the Royals would never win again.
After a couple of years of hanging around the periphery of a playoff push, the Royals faded away into mediocrity. Occasionally, they would show signs of life, such as the 2003 and 2013 seasons, yet most the past 29 years have been one long, unfortunate display of futility. In fact, the Royals are currently the team with the longest active streak without a playoff appearance, not playing postseason ball since that fateful Game Seven.
Now, the Curse of Joe Beckwith is no longer content to target the Royals won-loss record. Over the past few years, it has targeted the Royals crop of young pitchers. Sure fire prospects such as Mike Montgomery have flamed out, while Danny Duffy, John Lamb and Joakim Soria headlined the crop of Royals pitchers that have undergone Tommy John surgery. With the news that Kyle Zimmer is going to miss another six to eight weeks, and the scare from Yordano Ventura‘s elbow on Monday, something must be done.
Beckwith is still alive, and as he is approaching 60 years of age, may be in a forgiving mood. Perhaps bringing him back to throw out a ceremonial first pitch would be enough to have him lift the voodoo curse that the Royals appear to be suffering. Maybe a sincere apology, published in all the major newspapers in and around Kansas City will sate his thirst for vengeance. Or maybe, we will find out that the Royals built Kauffman Stadium upon an old unmarked native graveyard, and we need an old priest and a new priest to perform an exorcism of epic proportions.
There are many reasons as to why the Royals, aside from those brief glimpses of hope, have cratered in the past 29 years. Bad management, poor personnel decisions, David Glass. However, all of these problems began when Beckwith was released. While it just may be coincidence, that argument can hold up for only so long.
The Curse of Joe Beckwith may not actually exist, but it cannot be discounted either. Is it just a coincidence that the Royals have not been in the playoffs since he left? Maybe, just maybe, a sincere apology would go a long way to ending the madness.