Yost's belief, trust in those around him led to Royals Hall of Fame

September 3rd, 2023

KANSAS CITY -- According to Ned Yost, the moment everything changed for the Royals was in the seventh inning of the 2014 American League Wild Card Game on Sept. 30, 2014.

The Royals were down four runs to the A’s with Jon Lester on the mound, but Yost heard a murmur throughout the home dugout that got louder by the second.

“We’re not losing tonight, not to this guy,” Yost remembers hearing. “Let’s get on, let’s get over. We’re not losing this game.”

The Royals scored three in the eighth and tied it in the ninth before Salvador Perez’s walk-off hit in the bottom of the 12th. It was a historic moment in Kansas City.

And for Yost?

“That was the moment they went from thinking they were good to knowing in their heart that they were good,” Yost said. “And they were unstoppable.”

That moment spurred back-to-back World Series appearances and a 2015 title for the Royals, which cemented Yost’s place in club history as the manager that led them through those playoff runs. On Saturday at Kauffman Stadium, Yost was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame.

As the 27th member of the Royals Hall of Fame, Yost received a powder blue suit jacket from Mike Sweeney and the official induction speech from former president of baseball operations Dayton Moore.

“It’s going to be real emotional for me tomorrow when I get home and dove season opens up,” Yost, who retired in 2019, said. “I don’t like the fanfare for myself. Players who get to this point get to be Hall of Famers for their own merit. I get to be a Hall of Famer because of a lot of other people. Coaches, players, front office, trainers, grounds crew. That’s how I got to the Hall of Fame.

“I’m just real appreciative that we came together as an organization, that we were on the same page and all worked as hard as you can imagine to bring a world championship to Kansas City.”

A 16-year manager between Milwaukee and Kansas City, Yost is the winningest manager in Royals history with 746 wins and has a 22-9 postseason record.

Several members from the 2014-15 teams were in attendance for the ceremony, including Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Perez, the last remaining player from those teams, joined the group and Yost’s coaching staff on the field.

Yost was a keen manager with a calming presence. But what was mentioned most Saturday was his confidence in his players. It’s how they went from 95 losses in 2010 after Yost took over on May 13 and 91 losses in '11 to World Series champs.

When they made mistakes, Yost insisted they learn from it.

“Early in my career, I didn’t block a ball,” Perez said. “[Yost] called me into his office and told me, ‘You know why we lost today? You didn’t prepare yourself to block that ball.’ I apologized to him, like, ‘You’re right. I was distracted.’ As a catcher, you have to be [concentrated] on every pitch. I learned that from him. I appreciated him for telling me that. And after that? History.”

When they struggled, Yost found ways for them to succeed.

“I came in and didn’t do well,” Davis said, referencing his 5.32 ERA in 2013. “I remember talking to Ned about the future of the next year, and he was open to giving me opportunities and letting me get into a role in the bullpen, which for me, was a huge deal and kind of launched my career into a more positive direction.”

When big moments crept up on them, Yost stayed committed.

“I remember my big league debut in Oakland,” Holland said. “I was up 0-2 on Rajai Davis, and I thought, ‘They told me this would be no different. Just pitch my game.’ Thirty seconds later, I had first and third with one out and a run was already in. The confidence [Yost] exuded in that mound visit, it was just kind of matter of fact, like, ‘Hey, let’s get a pitch down in the zone. Let’s get a double play here.’ …

“I went from confident to spinning pretty quickly, and just the way he addressed that situation with a young player kind of kept my big league debut from being a total disaster.”

Yost’s goal was to be consistent with the players because he knew they would turn into winners -- even if he says he doesn’t know how he knew.

“People remember when Mike Moustakas was hitting .150, and even Moose was wondering how much longer I was going to play him,” Yost said. “I called him into the office and said, ‘Son, you’re going to play every day. Relax. You’re going to get through this. I trust you, I believe you, I know your work ethic and you’re going to be fine.’ It was like that with all of them.

“You could see how great these guys were going to be. I knew that my job was to be consistent and patient with them and allow them to grow into the All-Stars that I knew that they would become.”

And that belief, in turn, allowed Yost to grow into the Royals Hall of Fame manager he became Saturday.