Kansas City Royals: Top 3 managers in club history

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Kansas City Royals, 1985 Champions
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Next on the list is a tale of greatness but also of what could have been.

After leading the Yankees to a 100-win season in 1980, Dick Howser still found himself out of a job going into 1981. The Royals eventually came calling toward the end of the year and they finished 20-13 under his guidance. Howser had Kansas City back in the playoffs in 1984 but they were swept by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.

Then came the magical season of 1985. On July 7th, KC was 7.5 games back of the California Angels and winning the American League West appeared to be a long shot. The Royals willed their way back to the top, however, and with a 91-71 record, they won the division by just one game.

The playoffs shifted to a best-of-seven format in ’85 and that would turn out to be a huge blessing as the Royals found themselves down three games to one to both the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS and the Cardinals in the World Series. There’s no doubt that Howser’s steady hand contributed to the Boys in Blue not panicking and rallying to win both series to give Kansas City a World Championship for the first time.

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Sadly, Howser was diagnosed with a brain tumor and after the 1986 All-Star Game stepped aside to battle the disease. He tried to come back as manager in 1987 but could not do it and passed away that summer. It is not hard to believe that with his guidance the Royals could have made another playoff appearance or two in the late ’80s. He finished with 404 victories and a .525 winning percentage.