KC Royals History: Luis Silverio made his Royal mark

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

A short playing career preceded the long front office tenure of KC Royals outfielder Luis Silverio, but that playing career gave him a spot in club history in 1978.

Signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1974 at 17, the righthanded hitter logged the highest batting average in Royals history among players with at least 10 at-bats, finishing at an eye-popping .545 to go with a .615 on base percentage and .909 slugging percentage, albeit in just 14 plate appearances.

Gathering at least one hit in every game in which he had an official at-bat, Silverio helped the club finish strong in ’78 and win the American League West for the third consecutive season.

Despite his good hitting, Silverio started only three games, played an entire game just twice, and never played in two straight games until contests 160 and 161 of the season.

Luis Silverio began his short KC Royals career in late September 1978.

Silverio made his big league debut Sept. 9, 1978, as a pinch runner in the seventh inning of Kansas City’s 3-2 loss to the Angels in the first game of a doubleheader. He finished that game in left field, but didn’t get a chance to bat.

After sitting out the second game of that twinbill, Silverio came in defensively the next day to replace Al Cowens in right field with the Royals trailing 12-0 in the seventh inning. The Angels added a run in the seventh and the Royals matched it with a lone run in the eighth. Silverio got his first big league at-bat leading off the top of the ninth against future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and drove a single to left field. One out and an error later, Silverio scored on a Jamie Quirk single, but Ryan ultimately finished the Royals off for a 13-3 Angel win.

Silverio got his first big league start Sept. 13, batting ninth and playing left field at home against the Oakland A’s and starter John Henry Johnson. After a walk to Freddie Patek to lead off the Royals’ third, Silverio was called on to sacrifice, but an error by Johnson put him on base. Silverio scored later in the inning on a double by Amos Otis. In the bottom of the fifth, Silverio walked and scored on a double by George Brett.

In the sixth, Silverio doubled to left field, driving in Frank White and Patek. An error by A’s shortstop Mario Guerrero on a ground ball from Brett allowed Silverio to score and put the Royals ahead 8-1. A final plate appearance with two outs in the eighth off reliever Elias Sosa resulted in another Silverio single. Kansas City won 9-1.

Rookie Luis Silverio continued to show up at the plate for the KC Royals.

After a pinch-running appearance resulted in a run scored for him, Silverio got his second start Sept. 19 at Seattle, again playing left field and batting ninth against the Mariners’ Rick Honeycutt. Coming up with his team already ahead 4-0, Silverio struck out to end the inning and lower his average to .750. Silverio doubled and scored in the fourth and struck out again in the fifth before being lifted for pinch hitter Clint Hurdle in the seventh.

After another pinch-running appearance, Silverio’s third and final career start came Sept. 29 in Kansas City against the Twins. Because the Royals had already clinched the division title, several KC reserves were in the starting lineup with Silverio batting fifth and playing right field.

With two out in the first inning, Silverio drove a triple to left field to score Dave Cripe from first. A single by Hurdle drove in Silverio for a 3-0 lead. Then, a walk and two groundouts finished Silverio’s day. Dennis Leonard (at whom we’ve taken a look back) and three relievers combined for a 4-0 shutout and Leonard’s 21st win of the season.

The next day, Silverio came in to run for DH Darrell Porter in the sixth inning of a 3-3 tie. An eighth-inning single off Twins starter Gary Serum turned out to be the final big league hit of Silverio’s career, and an 11th-inning strikeout against reliever Mike Marshall turned out to be his final plate appearance. He finished 6-for-11 with two walks and a sacrifice hit.

Despite a short playing career, Luis Silverio spent 35 years with the Royals.

A spring training knee injury knocked out Silverio in 1979, with the exception of a few rehab games. In limited minor league appearances in 1980 and ’81, Silverio couldn’t find his way back to Kansas City and after hitting .260 and stealing 29 bases at Omaha in ’82, Silverio was done playing.

Silverio coached and managed in the Royals’ minor league system from 1983-89, served as general manager of the club’s Dominican League affiliate and was the club’s Latin American coordinator until 2002. He spent 2003-08 as a first and third base coach on the big league staff and spent two more years as player development coordinator before moving to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011 when Hurdle was named manager.

Jerry Grote made Royals history in '81. dark. Next

Although Silverio can claim a .545 career batting average and his own place in club history, he may not have bragging rights during family dinners. Daughter Jennifer is married to former Royal Ángel Berroa, who was the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year. It’s likely Silverio’s 35 years in the organization carries some additional weight, though.