KC Royals: How 12 team Hall of Famers fared elsewhere

(Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images) /

The 18 players who have places in the KC Royals team Hall of Fame had great success during their days wearing the blue Kansas City cap.

Although a few experienced success with other clubs either before or after their time with the Royals, none matched the success they enjoyed with KC.

Royals Hall of Fame members Paul Splittorff, Dennis Leonard, George Brett, Frank White and Mike Sweeney never played for another organization. Steve Busby signed a contract with the Cardinals but didn’t appear in any major or minor league games for them.

Let’s look at what the other 12 KC Hall of Famers did when they weren’t Royals.

Four KC Royals Hall of Famers had success before and after their KC days.

First baseman John Mayberry excelled before and after he played with the Royals. In six seasons with KC, “Big John” smacked 143 homers and drove in 552 runs. Prior to becoming a Royal in 1972, Mayberry spent bits of four seasons with Houston, posting a dozen homers in 343 plate appearances. After the Royals sold Mayberry to the Blue Jays in 1978, he added another 100 home runs, most of them in four-plus years with them before spending the final few months of the 1982 season, and his career, with the Yankees.

Shortstop Fred Patek played three seasons and hit .244 with 41 stolen bases with the Pirates before coming to Kansas City in a trade after the 1970 campaign. Over the next nine seasons, Patek served as a sparkplug for the Royals; he led the American League in stolen bases in 1977 and swiped 336 bags as a Royal. After signing a free agent deal with the Angels in 1980, Patek played in only 113 games over the next two seasons, notching eight steals and a .253 average before his release in early 1982.

Amos Otis’ only non-Royals experiences were 67 games with the Mets before joining Kansas City in 1970, and 40 games with Pittsburgh in 1984 after departing Kansas City as a free agent. Despite a .280 average, 193 home runs and 992 RBIs in 14 years with the Royals, Otis hit only .173 with no homers and 15 RBIs in the National League.

Pitcher Larry Gura went 15-16 over parts of four seasons with the Chicago Cubs and the Yankees before Kansas City picked him up in 1976. In 10 years with the Royals, Gura won 111 games, threw 61 complete games and 14 shutouts, and even had 10 saves in 1977. He pitched 13 innings in a 1980 game against the A’s. Gura went back to the Cubs after KC released him in 1985, but his career was finished after five appearances resulted in three losses and an 8.41 ERA.

How three KC Royals Hall of Famers fared before their Kansas City tenures.

Before a midseason trade in 1970, Cookie Rojas had already logged eight-plus seasons in the National League with the Phillies, Reds and Cardinals and had been an All-Star in 1965 with the Phils. He had a .258 average, 29 homers and 261 RBIs in his NL days. After he joined the Royals, Rojas hit .268 with 25 homers and made four more All-Star teams before his release after the 1977 season. He signed with the Cubs in September 1978, but didn’t appear in any games with the organization.

In 15 seasons with the Royals, Hal McRae was a three-time All-Star, led the AL in doubles twice and RBIs once, and helped the club to the 1985 World Series title. McRae is one of the all-time club leaders in most offensive statistics, including average (.293), home runs (169) and RBIs (1,012). Over parts of four seasons before being acquired by the Royals, McRae had 697 plate appearances with the Reds, posting 22 home runs and a .257 average. In two losing World Series with Cincinnati, McRae hit .450 in 20 at-bats.

Another player Kansas City acquired from the Reds was reliever Jeff Montgomery. He pitched just 14 times for Cincinnati before coming to the Royals, but in 12 Kansas City seasons became one of the top closers in club history, posting a 3.20 ERA and 304 saves over 686 appearances.

Four Royals Hall of Famers didn’t have much success after leaving KC.

Bret Saberhagen’s first eight big League seasons—all with Kansas City—included 110 wins, a 3.21 ERA, two Cy Young Awards, a Gold Glove and a World Series MVP nod. The Royals shipped him to the Mets after the 1991 season and he did some quality work for them by posting 29 wins and earning an All-Star Game berth despite injury woes. Saberhagen finished his career with the Rockies and Red Sox.

Soft-tossing sidearmer Dan Quisenberry was the Royals’ dominant closer for most of his first 10 seasons with the club, posting 238 saves and leading the AL in that statistic five times. Following his release in July 1988, Quiz picked up six saves in 1989 for the Cardinals, but was done after five outings and a 13.50 ERA with the Giants in 1990.

Willie Wilson is among the club’s leaders with a .289 average and 1,968 hits, and is at the top of the list with 612 stolen bases over his first 15 major league seasons. Over his final four campaigns with Oakland and the Cubs, he hit .257 with 56 steals. The two-time All-Star was released in May 1994 by the Cubs.

Mark Gubicza gathered 132 victories in 13 seasons with the Royals, but injuries slowed him down in the middle and at the end of his career. He finished with two starts for the Angels in 1997 and now works as an Angels television color commentator.

This KC Royals Hall of Famer began and ended his career in Kansas City.

Before being traded by the Royals during the 1999 season, Kevin Appier had already posted 114 wins in 10-plus campaigns with the team. Over the next three seasons, Appier was a solid starter for the A’s, Mets and Angels, posting 47 wins before his decline began in 2003 with the Angels. After being released by them, Appier came back to Kansas City and made six starts with just one more win in 2003-2004. After retiring for 2005, Appier signed with the Mariners, but retired again after 10 minor league appearances in 2006.

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Twelve Royals had varying degrees of success before or after leaving Kansas City.