Although it may have seemed like it, Lou Piniella wasn’t the only member of the KC Royals to register offensive firsts.
Rookie of the Year Lou Piniella quickly cornered the market on offensive “firsts” for the KC Royals, but others collected firsts in the club’s opener and soon thereafter. One important first had to wait until midseason.
First RBI, first lead. To no surprise, Lou Piniella scored the first KC run, one of many firsts he accomplished in the KC Royals’ opening game. It was Jerry Adair, an expansion draft selection from Boston, who drove in Piniella in the bottom of the first inning for the club’s first RBI.
Adair, the only Royal besides Piniella to have a multiple-hit game that day–he had two singles–followed Piniella’s leadoff double with a single to left off Minnesota starter Tom Hall to give the Royals their first-ever lead. Adair singled in the sixth and finished 2-for-5.
Best known for his nine seasons with the Orioles, Adair held down second base for the Royals in 1969, but was released in May of the next season and never played in the majors again.
First game-winning hit, first walk-off hit, first walk-off win, first extra-inning win. Joe Keough, another expansion draft selection, pinch-hit for fellow draftee Ellie Rodriguez in the bottom of the 12th inning of the KC Royals’ first game. KC and the Twins were tied 3-3 when manager Joe Gordon chose Keough to face reliever Dick Woodson with one out and the bases loaded.
Ed Kirkpatrick lined to center to start the inning. Joe Foy singled and went to second on a passed ball; Joe Grzenda intentionally walked Chuck Harrison. Harrison and Foy moved up a base apiece when Grzenda unleashed a wild pitch to Bob Oliver, forcing Grzenda to issue another intentional walk to Oliver.
Woodson relieved Grzenda and gave up a single to Keough for the Royals’ first game-winning hit, first walk-off hit, first walk-off win and first extra-inning win.
Keough played for the Royals through 1972 and finished his short big league career with the White Sox in 1973.
First home run. The Royals didn’t hit a home run until the sixth game of the 1969 season, an April 13 road game in Oakland. First baseman Mike Fiore led off the second inning by blasting a Blue Moon Odom offering out to right field for the club’s first-ever round-tripper. (It was, of course, the same Blue Moon Odom who gave up the first KC triple to Lou Piniella).
Fiore was traded the next season to Boston and later played for the Cardinals and Padres.
First grand slam. The KC Royals’ first grand slam home run highlighted their July 4 fireworks against Seattle in Kansas City. The blast came in the first game of a doubleheader sweep of the Pilots.
Jim Bouton, first made famous by his stellar pitching for the Yankees, then by his baseball expose Ball Four, started the eighth inning for Seattle. He gave up a double to Juan Rios, got Jackie Hernandez on a grounder to second, then walked Foy and Pat Kelly to load the bases for Bob Oliver.
Oliver then crushed a Bouton delivery out of old Municipal Stadium for the club’s first grand slam, giving the Royals the 13-2 lead they’d win by. KC won the nightcap 3-2 and Oliver finished the day 3-for-8 with five RBIs.
Oliver played three more seasons in KC, then went to the Angels and Baltimore before ending his career with the Yankees in 1975.
First stolen base. Kansas City’s new team didn’t get its first stolen base in its first game, a 12-inning 4-3 victory against the Twins; instead, they had to wait until their second game, a 17-inning marathon they also won 4-3.
Foy stole 36 more bases and was traded that winter to the Mets in the deal that brought Amos Otis to the Royals; Foy played one season in New York and another for the old Senators.