The innovative Royals Baseball Academy was designed to develop the skills of non-drafted baseball players and other young athletes. The concept was the brainchild of Royals founder Ewing Kauffman who funded the building of a brand new baseball complex in Sarasota, FL. The academy eventually develops 15 players who reached the big leagues including Royals Hall of Famer Frank White.
After a year delay from original plans, Royals Stadium debuts when Kansas City takes on the Texas Rangers to begin the 1973 home season. The spectacular state-of-the-art complex quickly takes its place among the best in baseball. Royals Hall of Fame pitcher Paul Splittorff and his teammates defeat Texas 12-1 to christen the new ballpark.
The mid-summer classic returned to Kansas City with brand new Royals Stadium hosting the best players in the game. Three Royals made the American League squad - Amos Otis (CF) and John Mayberry (1B) started the game with Cookie Rojas (2B) as a reserve. The 40th anniversary year All-Star Game featured twenty-two Hall of Famers and still counting, including the record tying 24th and final appearance by Willie Mays.
Perhaps the pivotal year in early Royals history was 1973. The season brought a new stadium, an All-Star Game, and the debut of two franchise players. Frank White arrived on June 12 becoming the first Royals Academy graduate to make the big leagues. George Brett debuted on August 2 collecting the first of his 3,154 hits in his first game. Together they would set a then American League record for career games played as teammates (1,915).
The 'Kansas City' Royals debuted in 1969, but Paul Splittorff was actually a Royals a year earlier. The lefthander played for the Royals organization's first minor league affiliate, the Corning Royals, after being drafted in 1968. He made his major league debut on September 23, 1970 and in 1973 became the franchises' first 20 game winner. Splitt ended his career in 1984 with the most wins in club history (166).
In just his 10th major league start, Steve Busby blanks Detroit at Tiger Stadium to complete the first no-hitter in Royals History. Busby would go on to throw a second the following year against Milwaukee at County Stadium to become the first pitcher in major league history with no-hitters in each of his first two seasons.
The Royals clinch their first division title in just their eighth season. Kansas City had quickly become a player in the AL West after their expansion start in 1969. They finally captured a championship in 1976 led by manager Whitey Herzog. The triumph was even sweeter as the Royals dethroned the A's who had won multiple titles since leaving Kansas City for Oakland.
The 1976 season finale between the Royals and Minnesota featured four players battling for the AL batting title: Hal McRae (.33078), George Brett (.33073), Rod Carew (.32945), and Lyman Bostock (.32484). Brett would go 3-4 and McRae 2-4 with some controversy as Twins outfielder Steve Brye missed a ball hit by Brett for a 9th inning inside the park HR. McRae believed Twins manager Gene Mauch favored a Brett win over McRae - a claim Mauch denied. George Brett won the title over his teammate by a .0012 margin.
The Royals followed their first division title with a second in record setting fashion. From August 31 through September 15, the 1977 Royals posted a club record 16-game winning streak. They followed a single loss with another 8-game streak to complete an amazing 24-1 run, which clinched the title. Kansas City led all of baseball with 102 wins.
Kansas City defied the odds, as well as injuries, to win their third-straight American League West title with a 92-70 record, five games ahead of the Texas Rangers. Hope that the Royals third straight ALCS would be a World Series charm were clashed again by the New York Yankees in four games.