Once a fan, Moore living dream as Royals GM
KANSAS CITY -- Dayton Moore grew up living and dying with his beloved Kansas City Royals.
Nothing has changed in adulthood.
"I was a nine-year-old when Chris Chambliss hit that home run," Moore, now Kansas City's general manager, remembered.
That walk-off home run in Game 5 of what was then a best-of-five American League Championship Series in 1976 lifted the Yankees into the World Series and put an end to the first of seven postseason appearances in a 10-year span for the Royals.
"George [Brett] hit that home run [off Grant Jackson] to tie the game up [6-6] and I was higher than a kite," Moore said. "Then, Chambliss hit that walk-off. I was bawling my eyes out."
And then there was Game 7 of the World Series in 1985, when the Royals knocked off the Cardinals for their only World Series title in franchise history. Moore and his Garden City College baseball teammate Dave Lawrence were driving back to school after a weekend visit with Lawrence's family in Moline, Ill., and decided to drop by the venue then known as Royals Stadium early that day.
"We were passing through and thought maybe we could buy tickets, but the cheapest we could find were $150 and we didn't have any money," Moore said. "We noticed several people congregated up above the stadium along I-70. They had grills, portable radios and the battery-operated televisions that were just coming out.
"We decided to join them. It wasn't a bad view. We could see everything except Lonnie Smith in left field."
Those were the original glory days for the Royals, and Moore was a believer.
Now the Royals are reviving the good times at what is now known as Kauffman Stadium, and Moore is more than a fan.
Moore is now the architect of the club's success. As the GM for the last six seasons, he's enjoying the Royals' second postseason appearance in a row -- the first two since that fall of 1985.
And Moore is just as big of a Royals fan today as he was back then.
If he wasn't, he wouldn't be the general manager.
Having worked his way up in the Atlanta organization from an area scout to the director of Minor League operations, Moore never thought about another job. He loved the developmental part of baseball, and the Braves were baseball's model franchise. Heck, his boss was general manager John Schuerholz, who Moore had known of since his youth when Schuerholz was GM of those '85 Royals.
"I never thought about being a general manager," Moore said. "The first couple of opportunities I had to be interviewed, I didn't even interview. I loved working for John."
Then the Royals called midway in the 2006 season, asking the Braves for permission to talk to Moore about their vacant general manager's job.
"That was an emotional thing," Moore said. "I met with [owner David] Glass. He wanted to build a model organization.
"I thought about the opportunity and the fact it was the Royals. I decided to come here and do something special. I wanted to breathe life back into this fan base. It was more an emotional attachment than anything else. This was my boyhood team."
Moore was born in Wichita, Kan., in February 1967, two years before the Royals were born out of AL expansion. His father was in the aviation industry, and he moved around as a youngster, living in Jamestown, N.Y., Washington, D.C., and Moline, where he went to high school.
Moore's mother, however, was a Kansan and a diehard Royals fan. So was his grandmother, and every summer, no matter where the family lived, Moore would spend time at his grandparents' place outside Coldwater, Kan., in the southwest part of the state.
"My grandmother was a diehard baseball fan and loved the Kansas City Royals," Moore said. "My mother was, too. It was my team, as well."
Oh, Moore liked the Yankees OK when he lived in New York, and the Cubs when he was in Iowa, but nothing like the Royals.
Moore just had that passion for baseball in general, which took him to Garden City when he came out of high school, and then led to him being offered a scholarship his last two years at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where he eventually became the school's baseball coach before going to work for the Braves.
Now, Moore is living the dream, overseeing the baseball operations of his childhood heroes, and learning more about just how great that Royals club that advanced to the postseason seven times in 10 years during his youth really was.
"Growing up, you know it's a great team, but you don't know the character of that team," Moore said. "Taking the job with the Royals and being around George [Brett, now a club vice president] and exposed to his passion, I realize why the Royals were so good.
"When the best player was as motivated and cared as much as anybody, and played every night to win, it creates a special atmosphere."
It is an atmosphere that has been recreated under Moore's leadership, not only on the team, but also in the city.
"I was coming to the ballpark the other day, watching moms and dads walk their kids to schools and 70 percent of those kids had on Royals gear," Moore said. "When we played [Game 4 of the AL Division Series during the afternoon] in Houston on Monday, all the teachers, everybody was watching the game on television. It was just like when we were growing up."
The difference is now Moore has his own suite to watch the game, and he can see the whole field, even Alex Gordon in left field.
Moore doesn't have to park up along I-70 and watch from afar anymore.