Flashback Friday: KC Royals closer Jeff Montgomery

KC Royals, Jeff Montgomery (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Allsport/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Jeff Montgomery (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Allsport/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals have a history of decent bullpen arms and great closers, but one stands above the rest in terms of team record-holding.

The name Montgomery has its place among KC Royals fans, currently and in the past. Interestingly enough, both former pitcher Jeff Montgomery and current pitcher Mike Montgomery both used number 21 when on the mound for the Royals. Mike has a long way to go, though, if he wants to live up to the number 21 with a name like Montgomery.

Many younger fans might know Jeff Montgomery from his analysis during the tv broadcast of games, conversing with the likes of Rex Hudler, Joel Goldberg, and Ryan Lefebvre. Before Jeff took his spot before the cameras, though, he made his name well known among Royals fans and cemented himself in team history.

Jeff Montgomery entered baseball when he was drafted in the 9th round of the 1983 draft by the Cincinnati Reds. Monty had played previously for Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. He saw his first bit of time with the Reds in 1987 but was traded in February of 1988 to Kansas City for Van Snider.

From there, Monty made his mark. He was plugged into the bullpen in Kauffman Stadium in 1988 where he saw 45 games. He managed an ERA of 3.45 over 62.2 innings of relief, allowing 4.3 walks per 9, recording 6.3 strikeouts per 9, and keeping his home runs per 9 just under 1.0.

In 1989, Monty started to find his way into what would be his long term role, closing. He managed 63 games and 92.0 innings pitched while holding an ERA of 1.37 and recorded 18 saves. He continued this trend with the Royals for the rest of his career.

From 1990 to 1993, his ERA never jumped past 2.90 and he recorded 24, 33, 39, and 45 (led the league) saves respectfully in those years. While he started to see his ERA rise in the years following ’93, he still managed to be a dominant closer.

Monty recorded 24 or more saves, including two years over 30, in 1994, ’95, ’96, and ’98, all the while still managing a good deal of innings.

Montgomery pitched with the Royals until 1999 when he started to see his effectiveness slow. He finished the season with 51.1 innings pitched over 49 games but managed only 12 saves and saw his strikeout rate sharply decline.

After the 1999 season, Montgomery retired but could look back at a record-breaking career as one of the Royals most dominant closers to play the game.

Montgomery finished his career with an ERA of 3.27, and appeared in 700 games, pitching 868.2 innings with 304 saves. He was an All-Star in 1992, ’93, and ’96, and finished 13 in MVP voting in 1993.

As far as Royals records go, Montgomery holds the career team record for saves, games played (pitcher), is third in ERA, and ninth in Strikeouts. He was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 2003 for obvious reasons and now spends his time as an analyst during the broadcast of Royals games.

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Jeff Montgomery is a great example of just one of the dominant closers and bullpen arms the Royals have had throughout their history. Continue to check back for the continuation of the Flashback Friday series as we keep looking back to see the great players that make fans Forever Royal.