Where are they now? 1985 Royals
Team delivered franchise's only World Series championship
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are one step away from the World Series, a journey that continues on Friday night in Baltimore with Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Orioles, airing on TBS. Except for the Mariners, who have never been to a World Series, these are the two current AL teams that have gone the longest since their last Series appearance (the Brewers, who played in the 1982 Fall Classic, would be included if the franchise hadn't moved to the National League in 1998).
The Orioles won the 1983 World Series, and the Royals took the title two years later in 1985 -- but neither has been back since. That Royals squad was led by future Hall of Famer George Brett, who remains with the club as vice president of baseball operations. But there were many other stellar players -- and some key role players, too -- on that team. You might be asking, where are those guys now?
We're glad you asked.
Steve Balboni, 1B: The Royals' first baseman batted .320 and racked up a .433 on-base percentage in the World Series, and the 36 home runs he hit that year remains the franchise record. Balboni, who works as a scout for the Giants, played five seasons for the Royals, five for the Yankees and one for the Mariners before wrapping up his career with a brief stay with the Rangers in 1993.
Joe Beckwith, RP: It was Beckwith's second and final season with Kansas City, and he tossed two scoreless innings of relief in the World Series. Beckwith currently works for Ready Mix USA/CEMEX, a concrete company. He resides in Auburn, Ala., where he played college baseball.
Buddy Biancalana, SS: A 160-pound, light-hitting utility infielder, Biancalana improbably became an integral part of the Royals' championship, notching a .435 on-base percentage in 23 plate appearances and playing solid defense at shortstop against the Cardinals -- this after batting .188 with a .277 on-base percentage in 138 regular-season at-bats. Biancalana runs a sports zone-training business.
Bud Black, SP: Black found postseason success in the ALCS against the Blue Jays. He pitched in three of the seven games, including one that he started, and posted a 1.69 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. Black played 2 1/2 more seasons for the Royals, then moved on to post double digits in wins twice for Cleveland and twice for San Francisco before retiring after the 1995 season. He has been the manager of the Padres for the past eight years.
George Brett, 3B: Brett excelled in both the ALCS and World Series. He hit .360 (18-for-50) and memorably smoked a pair of home runs as part of a 4-for-4 game against the Blue Jays that helped earn him ALCS MVP honors. Brett retired after the 1993 season as the franchise leader in nearly every offensive statistic. He is the vice president of baseball operations for the Royals.
Onix Concepcion, SS: The starting shortstop most of the year, Concepcion gave way to Biancalana late in the regular season. This was Concepcion's final season with the Royals, and he ended his career going 1-for-1 with the Pirates in 1987. He lives in Florida.
Steve Farr, RP: Farr, who now spends his days in North Carolina, threw 6 1/3 innings of one-run relief in the ALCS. He went on to have a prosperous career as a reliever, retiring in 1994 with a 3.25 ERA in 824 1/3 Major League innings.
Mark Gubicza, SP: In only his second Major League season, Gubicza played a major role on the club's regular-season and postseason pitching staff. He started 28 games in Kansas City's run to win the AL West, winning half of them, then was victorious in a must-win Game 6 of the ALCS. Gubicza is a color analyst for Angels TV broadcasts.
Dane Iorg, OF: Iorg did not start in any of the 1985 postseason games, but he delivered the biggest hit of the season in Game 6 of the World Series, a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth turned a 1-0 Cardinals lead into a 2-1 Royals win. Iorg, who played eight seasons for St. Louis, spent one more season in the Majors, with the Padres. He works as a distributor for Synergy Worldwide.
Danny Jackson, SP: The Royals received all they could ask for from Jackson in the postseason. He pitched 26 innings and allowed just three runs. Two of his three starts were in the World Series, during which he posted a 1.69 ERA in 16 innings. The left-hander had further success later with the Reds, finishing second for the National League Cy Young Award in 1988, then winning a second World Series ring with Cincinnati in 1990. He currently lives in Overland Park, Kan., where he owns a bowling megaplex named Incred-A-Bowl.
Lynn Jones, OF: Jones, a reserve outfielder in his seventh big league season, slugged a triple in Game 1 of the I-70 Series, then doubled in Game 4. He finished his career a Royal in 1986. His post-playing days include a volunteer coaching gig with his alma mater, Thiel College, in Greenville, Pa.
Charlie Leibrandt, SP: The left-handed Leibrandt started two games in the World Series -- Game 2, a 4-2 loss, and Game 6, a 2-1 win. He went 0-1 in the starts, but pitched well both times, allowing only five runs in 16 1/3 innings. Leibrandt's son, Brandon, was taken in the sixth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft by the Phillies. Leibrandt currently resides in Alpharetta, Ga.
Hal McRae, DH: After eight trips to the postseason without a ring between 1970-84, McRae was finally crowned in 1985 with the Royals. His main contribution was in the ALCS, during which he hit .261 (6-for-23) with two doubles as the team's designated hitter. McRae went on to manage Kansas City from 1991-94 and Tampa Bay in 2001-02. He's retired and living in Florida.
Darryl Motley, OF: Motley, a right fielder who hadn't started in the previous two games, set the tone in Game 7 with a two-run shot in the second inning that started the Royals' 11-0 blowout. He is enjoying the Royals' first postseason appearance since then in the Kansas City area.
Jorge Orta, DH: Orta was at the center of the "Denkinger call," in which first-base umpire Don Denkinger incorrectly ruled Orta safe on a ground ball in Game 6 of the World Series. Kansas City was trailing 1-0 in the ninth at the time of the infamous play. Aided by the missed call, the Royals went on to win, 2-1, and then clinched the series in Game 7. Orta joined the Rangers' Arizona League staff in 2013.
Greg Pryor, INF: Pryor did not play a large role on the field in Kansas City's World Series -- he played in only one game and had no at-bats -- but he's kept busy in his post-retirement life. The former infielder is the president of Life Priority Inc. and Sports-Aholic Inc., both based in the Kansas City area.
Jamie Quirk, C: Quirk, along with John Wathan, backed up Jim Sundberg at catcher in 1985. He logged only one at-bat in the postseason, in the ALCS against Toronto. Quirk enjoyed an 18-year career that featured stints with eight different teams. He recently landed a managing job with the Lake Elsinore Storm, a Minor League affiliate of the Padres.
Dan Quisenberry, RP: Quisenberry spent the majority of his 10 seasons with the Royals as the team's closer. He logged 37 saves in the regular season in 1985, his last big season. The highly entertaining and quotable "Quiz" recorded only one save in the postseason, but still pitched nine innings of solid relief. Quisenberry died of brain cancer on Sept. 30, 1998.
Bret Saberhagen, SP: In a World Series full of heroes, Saberhagen's performance stood out the most. The 21-year-old right-hander pitched a complete game in a 6-1 Game 3 win, then came back to shut out the Cardinals in the finale. He remains the youngest player to be a World Series MVP, and he was the youngest Cy Young Award winner that year as well. Saberhagen enjoys his retirement in California.
Pat Sheridan, RF: Sheridan's impact on the 1985 regular season was minimal as he hit .228 in 206 at-bats. That changed in the postseason, when he started in nearly every game. Sheridan ripped a pair of home runs in Kansas City's ALCS victory over the Blue Jays. He runs a property insurance company, Pat Sheridan Insurance, in Canton, Mich.
Lonnie Smith, LF: It's interesting to imagine how the 1985 World Series might have played out if the Cardinals had not traded Smith to the Royals on May 17 of that season. Smith went on to solidify left field and man the top spot in Kansas City's order. He batted .333 in the World Series against his former team and claimed his third World Series title. Smith is retired in Georgia.
Jim Sundberg, C: Sundberg brought Kansas City its first World Series ring in his first season with the team. He excelled in his only taste of the postseason in his 16-year career, walking six times for a .400 on-base percentage against the Cardinals. Sundberg was appointed senior executive vice president of the Rangers in 2008, a position from which he retired at the end of this season.
John Wathan, C: Wathan went out on a high note, retiring in 1985 after 10 seasons with the Royals. He only logged a few at-bats during their championship run, but he remains a part of the organization to this day, working as a special assistant in player development. He lives in Lee's Summit, Mo., and has been in baseball for 42 years, 38 of them with the Royals.
Frank White, 2B: White, a five-time All-Star second baseman, smacked one of Kansas City's two World Series homers in 1985, after equaling a career high with 22 home runs in the regular season. He recently won a primary in his bid to win a seat on the Jackson County (Mo.) legislature. When White isn't immersed in politics, he helps coach the Kansas City T-Bones of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.
Willie Wilson, CF: A rangy center fielder and a nuisance on the basepaths who stole 585 in his 19-year career, Wilson collected a Major League-leading 21 triples and 43 steals during the 1985 season. His post-retirement life includes a number of pursuits, including the recent completion of a book, "Inside the Park: Running the Base Path of Life," heading the Willie Wilson Baseball Foundation and offering private hitting lessons. Wilson lives in the Kansas City area.