10 players you forgot played for the Royals

December 1st, 2021
** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND MAY 25-26 ** Omaha Royals manager Bucky Dent is seen during team practice at Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium Monday, April 22, 2002. Dent, known for his home run that lifted the Yankees to the 1978 American League East title, was a bench coach for 11 years before accepting the job of manager of the Omaha Royals. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)NATI HARNIK/AP

KANSAS CITY -- The great Harmon Killebrew was once a Royal? Bucky Dent, too?
Indeed, many a player who established careers and their names elsewhere wound up playing at Kauffman Stadium.

Just for fun, let's take a look at the top 10 players -- names you never thought would have been on the back of a Royals jersey -- who briefly made Kansas City a home.
And, as always, a huge hat tip to Royals team historian Curt Nelson, who never hesitates to help in these endeavors.

Harmon Killebrew Killebrew, who hit 573 home runs in his career, had been released by the Twins early in 1975 after a contract dispute. Rumor has it that then owner Calvin Griffith was only willing to sign Killebrew for $50,000 and only as a player-coach. The Royals promised a mostly full-time gig as a DH. Killebrew wound up hitting 14 dingers that one and only season in Royal blue.

Gaylord Perry The Royals claimed Perry off waivers midseason in 1983 from the Mariners, who apparently grew tired of Perry criticizing management in Seattle. Perry was 44 years old then, the oldest player in baseball. The Royals had just lost Dennis Leonard to a knee injury and they needed rotation depth. Perry went 4-4 with a 4.27 ERA for the Royals, then promptly retired. Eventually he was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bucky Dent Certainly, Dent will be forever known in Yankees and Red Sox lore, but he actually finished his 12-year career with the Royals. The Yanks released Dent in the summer of 1984, and the Royals signed him that August. Dent's career was virtually over and he played in just 11 games for Kansas City, going 3-for-9 with one RBI. He retired that fall.

Vince Coleman The former Cardinals and Mets star's time in Kansas City likely would have been much more memorable had it not been for the players' strike in 1994, which wiped out the final month and a half of the season. The Royals acquired Coleman from the Mets prior to the season at the request of manager Hal McRae, who wanted more speed in the lineup. Coleman, even at 32 years old, still had some get-up and he stole 50 bags in 104 games that season. The Royals were soaring toward the division title on the strength of a 14-game winning streak right before the strike wiped out the season. Coleman was dealt to the Mariners after the strike as the small-market Royals began dismantling their team and slashing payroll.

Juan Gonzalez Then Royals general manager Allard Baird had just witnessed his 2003 club post the franchise's first winning record (83-79) since 1994, and Baird decided to bolster the offense with aging slugger Juan Gonzalez. Baird signed the 34-year-old Gonzalez, who had ripped 429 home runs to that point, mostly with the Rangers, to a one-year deal. But Gonzalez, a two-time American League MVP Award winner, had nothing left in the tank. One Royals coach at the time described Gonzalez's swing as a "rusty old gate." Gonzalez hit five home runs in 2004 in 33 games and he was hurt often. The Royals lost 104 games that season, the first of three straight 100-loss seasons, which paved the way for Dayton Moore's hiring. Gonzalez tried one more comeback the next spring with the Indians, but after one at-bat, he called it quits.

Benito Santiago Another of Baird's signings before the 2004 season intended to push the Royals into the playoffs was the 39-year-old veteran catcher. And that two-year signing of Santiago turned out as wasteful as the Gonzalez signing. Santiago, a five-time All-Star, played in only 49 games before sustaining a broken left hand that ended his season in June. He was traded that offseason to the Pirates.

Terry Pendleton The Royals of the late '90s were an odd mix of young talent coming through the system (Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, Mike Sweeney) and veterans playing out the string. In 1998, then general manager Herk Robinson signed former Braves and Cardinals star Terry Pendleton, who then played his final season in the bigs that year, hitting .257 with three home runs in 79 games. Pendleton, though, was well-respected in the clubhouse for his leadership abilities and soon after he retired, he launched a successful coaching career.

Hideo Nomo Nomo was one of Japan's most dominant hurlers and he instantly became a sensation in the United States when he signed with the Dodgers in 1995 (he won the National League Rookie of the Year Award that season). He essentially ended his career in 2005, but after two years out of baseball, Nomo decided to make a comeback and the Royals signed him to a Minor League deal in 2008. Nomo made three relief appearances that April and he gave up 10 hits and nine runs in 4 1/3 innings before he was released. He then retired for good.

Bill Buckner Certainly, Buckner will be remembered more for his days with the Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox, and for the infamous error against the Mets in the 1986 World Series. But after he was released by the Angels in the spring of 1988, the Royals picked him up and he played in 168 games for Kansas City over the next two seasons, hitting .239. Buckner happened to be one of George Brett's favorite players and it was rumored at the time that Brett recommended the Royals claim Buckner. Funny story, too -- five years earlier, Brett was at his home during an off-day and had the Cubs game on WGN when, from another room, he heard Buckner was coming up to bat. Brett rushed into the living room because he didn't want to miss the Buckner at-bat. In the process, Brett stubbed his toe on a door jam and actually broke it, sending him to the disabled list.

Long before he became a star with the Blue Jays (and antagonized Royals fans in the 2015 American League Championship Series), Bautista was briefly with Kansas City in 2004. Bautista's career at that point was drifting -- he had been drafted by the Pirates, picked up by the Orioles in the Rule 5 Draft, released, claimed by the Rays, released and then purchased by the Royals. He appeared in 13 games for the Royals and hit .200. Within weeks, he was traded to the Mets.