Oct 27, 1985; Kansas City, MO, USA; FILE PHOTO; Kansas City Royals fans celebrate after the game 7 win beating the St. Louis Cardinals 11-0 during the 1985 World Series at Royals Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
3. Hal McRae
Twenty-seven year-old Hal McRae arrived in Kansas City after a trade with the Cincinnati Reds in 1973. Unable to crack a talented Reds lineup that would later become known as the “Big Red Machine” for back-to-back titles in 1975-76, McRae became something of a mentor for a young Kansas City Royals team trying to find its way.
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McRae’s KC Royals career started slowly with a .234/.313/.385 slash line that was sub-par even in an era dominated by pitching—especially for an outfielder. McRae’s career, however, did not really take off until he embraced the newfangled role of designated hitter that the American League had instituted in 1973.
In 1974, McRae slashed .310/.375/.475 with 15 home runs and 88 RBI’s. He earned All-Star nods in 1975-76. Hal McRae even dueled teammate George Brett for the 1976 batting title in a contest that went down to the last day of the season. Brett prevailed by finishing at .333 to McRae’s .332.
Hal McRae spent 15 seasons in Kansas City, and became the quintessential designated hitter in the early years of the position. McRae hit .293/.356/.458 in his Kansas City Royals career, with 169 home runs, 1924 hits, and an OPS+ of 125 (25% better than league average).
But, forget about the numbers. Hal McRae was the guy that taught the Kansas City Royals how to play aggressive, National League-style baseball that fit KC’s massive new ballpark.
Next: An Under-Appreciated All-Star