KC Royals: The Terrance Gore moment we never had

(Photo by John Williamson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Williamson/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Terrance Gore was a KC Royals favorite who electrified fans whenever he got on base, but Kansas City didn’t get to see one of his biggest moments.

Terrance Gore is not your grandfather’s major league ballplayer. He is neither prototype nor stereotype; at around 5-feet-7 and 160 pounds, and with a weak bat packing absolutely no power, the former KC Royals favorite is hardly a baseball scout’s dream.

But what he does have, and what endeared him to the Royals, is almost more speed than any human being should be entitled to. The Royals, and the Cubs and Dodgers after them, didn’t pay Gore for his glove or bat. Instead, he was to each of them a specialist, a hired gun employed to steal bases when the situation called for it, and to disrupt the defense with his mere presence when it didn’t.

Kansas City first unveiled the secret that was Gore when, after adding him to the big league roster Sept. 2, 2014, he pinch ran that night for Mike Moustakas after Moose doubled to lead off the bottom of the eighth in a 1-1 tie with Texas. The Royals were tied for first in the American League Central at that very moment, and desperately needed a run. And Gore was much, much faster than Moose.

Unfortunately, Texas retired Gore on a fielder’s choice; fortunately, the Royals scored a run later in the inning, held on in the ninth to win and remained tied with Detroit. Gore made good the very next night when he pinch ran for Billy Butler in the seventh, stole his first base, and scored on an error.

Gore’s status as a specialist meant he was destined to run, not hit, and he didn’t get an at-bat until Sept. 19 when he grounded out to the pitcher; he appeared at the plate once more that season and was hit by a pitch. He stole five bases in all, then swiped three in the postseason.

The KC Royals summoned Gore back to the majors for their 2015 stretch run; he stole three bases, but didn’t get a hit in three at-bats, leaving him hitless after two trips to the majors. Solace, however, came in the form of his 2015 World Series championship ring.

And that brings this story around to its point. Kansas City fans fell in love with Gore at first sight, making him an electrifying presence whenever he pinch-ran. But those fans yearned to see Gore get his first major league hit—any hit would do, it didn’t really matter—but it never happened while Gore was a Royal. He went hitless in seven at-bats across the next two seasons, then was sold to the Cubs in August 2018 before seeing any more Royal action.

Gore’s departure left his fans deprived of the moment they relished.

The moment came eventually, but elsewhere. Gore, playing in his fifth game with the Cubs, replaced former Kansas City teammate Ben Zobrist in left field late in a blowout loss to Washington and, two innings later, poked a single up the middle off tough Max Scherzer. It was the only hit Gore collected as a Cub.

The KC Royals reacquired Gore for the 2019 campaign and his fans finally got to see him hit safely. He actually posted a respectable .275 in 37 games (14-for-51); that, combined with his .362 OBP, led to 13 stolen bases. But as a team in transition constantly reevaluating its needs, Kansas City let Gore go to free agency after the season. He played in two games for the Dodgers in 2020 (no at-bats) and is now a free agent.

Will the Royals pursue him again? No, not unless they need him to help fill out a minor league roster, but even that’s unlikely. The .275 he managed in 37 2019 games probably wouldn’t hold up over a longer haul, and KC has more outfielders on its 40-man roster and in the minors than it can find regular spots for. And, as we suggested when Gore was a free agent last winter, unless the Royals are in a close race for the playoffs, where every run counts, there isn’t much room on the bench for a player as one-dimensional as Gore.

So, as much as KC fans might want Gore to return, don’t expect a reunion. Those fans missed a Gore moment they wanted so much to see, but at least he excited everyone when he was a Royal.

A holiday wish for Whit Merrifield. dark. Next

Although his big moment didn’t happen while he was with the Royals, Kansas City fans will never forget Terrance Gore.