Onix Concepción’s place in KC Royals history is often overshadowed by other players’ accomplishments.
Kansas City fans remember the moment Dane Iorg, pinch hitting for Dan Quisenberry, lined a bases loaded single to right field with the Royals trailing by a run in the bottom of the controversial ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, and then Jim Sundberg rounding third base and coming home with the winning run to force a Game 7. Scoring from third ahead of Sundberg was Concepción, pinch-running for Steve Balboni.
That turned out to be the last time Concepción appeared in a big game for the Royals. He was released the following April, re-signed by them to a minor league deal in May, and released again in October.
However, that Game 6 run he scored wasn’t Concepción’s entire Kansas City legacy.
Onix Concepción signed with the KC Royals in 1976 when he was 19.
A native of Puerto Rico, Concepción, then 19, signed as a free agent with Kansas City in 1976 and began his journey to the majors. After hitting .250 in 60 at-bats in the minors in 1976, he slumped to .186 in 59 plate appearances in 1977 and .235 in 1978.
But things came together for him in 1979 when was named Outstanding Shortstop in the California League after batting .300 with 14 home runs and 75 RBIs; before that season, he hadn’t hit a single home run as a professional.
He followed that up with a combined 16 home runs in a 1980 campaign split between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Omaha, an effort that earned him some late-season action with Kansas City.
Omaha was Concepción’s home for 1981 aside from two late-season appearances with Kansas City.
Onix Concepción found a home in the major leagues with the KC Royals.
Used as a utility infielder, Concepción stuck with the big league club in 1982 and ’83, compiling 455 plate appearances with 24 extra-base hits (but no home runs). He played primarily in relief of Frank White and U L Washington at second base and shortstop.
With Washington out to open the 1984 season, Concepción drew the starting nod at second and was inserted into the leadoff spot for Opening Day against the Yankees and Ron Guidry, New York’s lefthanded ace who was coming off a 21-9, 3.42 ERA, 12-complete game 1983 season.
The matchup of light-hitting Concepción and “Louisiana Lightning” didn’t go the way one might expect—Concepción connected on Guidry’s very first pitch of the season for a home run.
And that’s where Concepción’s big league power surge stopped for the year—he played in another 89 games without hitting another homer. He hit a respectable .282, but added only 11 more extra-base hits, nine of them doubles.
Onix Concepción played his final campaign with the KC Royals in 1985.
By Opening Day 1985, Washington had been traded to Montreal and Concepción was the regular shortstop, but by mid-September he and his .210 average found the bench more often than the lineup as Buddy Biancalana took over at short through the end of the regular season and started all 14 postseason games.
But the regular season wasn’t without good moments for Concepción. He and excellent KC utility man Greg Pryor each hit ninth-inning solo home runs April 24 to help spoil the one-hit shutout Toronto starter Luis Leal had going.
Concepción homered again September 8, this time off Milwaukee starter Danny Darwin. The long ball turned out to be the first for Concepción with a runner on base and the third and final of his career.
After his release in October 1986, Concepción signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates for 1987 and completed his career with another statistical anomaly—when he singled April 7, it was the only game, only plate appearance, and only hit he had for the Bucs.
And it was the last major league game he ever played.
Onix Concepción had some memorable moments with the Royals.