The 3 best hitting KC Royals pitchers before the DH

(Photo by: John Vawter Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
(Photo by: John Vawter Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals
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A mainstay of the KC Royals’ early pitching staffs could also handle the bat.

Al Fitzmorris didn’t make his major league debut the same day the Royals played their first game in 1969. Instead, the righthander first appeared by pitching three scoreless innings in relief Sept. 8, then pitched out of the pen six more times before the season ended.

Fitzmorris turned out to be a good interchangeable Kansas City pitching piece—moving back and forth from rotation to bullpen across 243 games, he went 70-48 with a 3.46 ERA in eight Royal seasons (he also pitched for Cleveland and the Angels).

And for a pitcher, he was fairly good at the plate. He hit .242 with a .290 OBP for KC before the AL adopted the DH; his 24-for-99 effort included five doubles and he drove in eight runs.

His best year with the bat was 1970, when he slashed .290/.353/.419, hit four of his five career doubles, and had five of his eight RBIs. Fitzmorris collected a career-best 11 hits in 1971.

Ironically, the DH didn’t stop Fitzmorris from almost hitting in an AL park—he assumed the designated hitter slot, but didn’t bat, when he pinch ran for DH Hal McRae in a 1976 game.

Fitzmorris pitched his last major league game for the Angels in 1978, then appeared in eight Triple-A contests as a member of the San Diego organization in ’79.