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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The early KC Royals had a starting pitcher who was a bit of a slugger.

Count Jim Rooker among the original Kansas City Royals. The club picked him up from the Yankees in the 1968 expansion draft just a couple of weeks after Detroit sent him to New York to complete a trade that sent former KC A’s pitcher John Wyatt from The Bronx to the Tigers. His first appearance for the Royals came in their 16th game; after that, he became a regular rotation member until Kansas City dealt him to Pittsburgh for reliever Gene Garber after the ’72 season.

Related Story. Gene Garber was a Royal before he was a Brave. light

Rooker is perhaps better known as a Pirate than a Royal—after all, he was 82-65 for the Bucs from 1973-1979 and appeared twice in the World Series they won in ’79. He went 21-44 in four KC seasons.

Rooker also knew how to hit home runs. He clubbed two for Pittsburgh, but his best power days were with Kansas City, where he hit five in his first two years with the team.

Four of those homers came in 1969, including two Rooker slammed in one game. He tagged KC nemesis and future Hall of Famer Jim Kaat for both those latter blasts July 7 against Minnesota, then hit his third home run of the season nine days later off the Angels’ Andy Messersmith, and his fourth off Detroit’s Mike Kilkenny in September.

Rooker’s fifth and last Royal home run came the following season against Cleveland’s Rich Hand.

The lefthander also hit seven doubles and drove in 23 runs in 157 Kansas City at-bats.

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Jim Rooker, Al Fitzmorris and Lance Clemons pitched for the early Royals, but they could also swing the bat.