Royals honor 2014 AL champs with weekend-long celebration

May 17th, 2024

KANSAS CITY -- Ten years ago, the Royals brought postseason baseball back to Kansas City with an electrifying October run.

It included a truly wild, extra-inning Wild Card Game win over the A’s. It included an eight-game postseason winning streak. And it gave Kansas City its first American League pennant in three decades.

This weekend, the Royals are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of that team that, although it eventually lost the World Series to the Giants, ignited winning back into Kansas City and set up the 2015 World Series title.

“It happens fast, man,” former manager and Royals Hall of Famer Ned Yost said. “Time flies. I don’t know where it’s going. It just goes by really, really quick. And now it’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years.”

To kick off the weekend-long celebration, the Royals welcomed back several members from that 2014 team on Thursday for a dinner and celebration at Union Station. Yost, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and many others were there. Festivities this weekend at Kauffman Stadium include a bobblehead giveaway all three days featuring the “HDH” bullpen of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland.

On Thursday, memories were shared about the bullpen and big home runs. A joke or two might have been told about Gordon being held up at third base in Game 7 of the World Series.

“I think we might be talking about that again,” Gordon said he told third-base coach Mike Jirschele in the hotel lobby.

Players reminisced how the homegrown core grew up together and how the culture started to change when former general manager Dayton Moore made moves in 2013 to bring in veterans to help the young core.

“Every one of those guys were young, and they were hungry,” starter James Shields said. “… All these guys needed was to be able to believe in themselves. That’s what Wade and I kind of brought to the table. We really didn’t do much. These guys were hungry, they just wanted someone to show them the way.”

That set the stage for 2014, although the Royals weren’t sure contenders. They were 6 1/2 games out of the division lead at the All-Star break. They climbed their way back into contention, though, and started to believe, going 41-27 in the second half and battling with the Tigers, who eventually won the division.

That finish sent the Royals to the Wild Card Game against the A’s, and no one will forget that 12-inning, 9-8 win.

“I’ll never forget that 2014 game, coming out of the dugout and that atmosphere,” Gordon said. “There was nothing like it. Getting goosebumps talking about it now.”

“I still give Ned a little flak for taking me out a little too early,” Shields said. “But I mean, it was one of the biggest honors in my career. The Royals not being in the playoffs in [30] years, to be able to start that game -- the way that this city blew up was unbelievable. The fans here in Kansas City are hands down, for me, one of the best fans if not the best fans in all of baseball. It was pretty special.”

“I still say it might be one of the best baseball games played,” Moustakas said. “If you break it down and you watch it, so much happened throughout that entire game. It was an emotional rollercoaster. After that, we felt like we were unstoppable.”

For a bit, they were: The Royals swept the Angels in the AL Division Series and the Orioles in the Championship Series. It wasn’t until Game 1 in the World Series that the Royals lost that October.

“At the end of ’14, I sat back and kind of looked at it all, and as a manager, I had every matchup I wanted, and everything that we wanted to do, we did,” Yost said. “It just didn’t work out. I don’t feel like we came up short, I just feel like one heroic job by a guy by the name of Madison Bumgarner cost us [a] World Series.”

What the Royals had instead was motivation. That fueled their 2015 run.

“The Wild Card Game was so nuts, right?” Hosmer said. “We fly to L.A. We feel like we have no sleep. We sweep the Angels. We sweep the Orioles. And we get to the World Series. And then you’re a month or two in the offseason and you kind of realize what you actually accomplished. Heading into that next year, I think it really did make us confident that, ‘Hey, we really did accomplish something that was really, really cool and a big deal. But we feel like there’s more.’”