Baseball legends never truly die, but they do eventually get old and retire. Or sometimes they simply lose a step on defense and move across the diamond. The latter case was true for the KC Royals in 1987, when the greatest Royal of them all, George Brett, made the transition from the hot corner to first base.
George Brett's move was the end of an era for the KC Royals at third base
The 1986 season was frustrating in an all around sense for the Royals. Following their wonderful championship run in 1985, they fell to 76-86 and third place in the American League West. Of course, they had bigger problems than baseball. Manager Dick Howser was diagnosed with brain cancer shortly after the All-Star Game and, after his failed attempt to return during spring training the following year, it became clear that Kansas City's 1987 season provided an opportunity for the club to recalibrate. That included tinkering with the face of the franchise himself, Brett.
But let's be clear about one key thing: nothing was wrong with Brett's bat. He played seven more seasons before retiring in 1993, and he wasn't just going through the motions. In addition to reaching the coveted and prestigious 3000-hit milestone in 1992, he won his third batting title in 1990, making him the only player in major league history to win the batting title in three different decades.
But the Royals front office wasn't stupid. The club knew Father Time was undefeated and their franchise player wasn't getting any younger. Brett turned 34 early in the '87 season. If the Royals could slow his inevitable decline in the field and reduce the wear and tear on their best hitter's body simply by moving him from third base to first , the decision was a no-brainer.
Only one question remained. Who was going to fill his shoes at third?