Royals Vault: Sweeney steals home vs. Yanks

June 24th, 2021

MLB.com is digging back into its massive video vault to uncover classic plays that you have loved, forgotten about or, perhaps, are discovering for the very first time. Watch these moments and many, many more on the MLB Vault YouTube page.

Aug. 14, 2002: Sweeney steals home
As Mike Sweeney stood on third base on this Wednesday night in August, he craned his neck trying to get his manager's attention. It was the bottom of the sixth inning against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte at Kauffman Stadium, and moments earlier, Sweeney had smoked a double to right-center to even the score, 1-1. With Aaron Guiel in an 0-2 count, Sweeney finally got the blessing -- or what he thought was a blessing -- from Royals manager Tony Pena to try a steal, and as Pettitte came set, Sweeney hauled home. Sweeney slid in safely, avoiding catcher Jorge Posada's tag by a split second. He popped to his feet as more than 26,000 Royals fans erupted in cheers. Sweeney had stolen home, stolen a run and almost stole the game the Royals eventually lost, but it was only when he got back to the dugout that he learned that Pena had meant for Sweeney to wait for a ball in the dirt. The steal became vintage Sweeney.

Sept. 4, 2017: Gordon's over-the-wall thievery
To fully appreciate this play, you don't need to look further than Mikie Mahtook's face after he realizes that Royals left fielder Alex Gordon took away a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning in early September 2017. Mahtook was rounding first base, having already high-fived his first-base coach ... when his face falls. His jaw drops. He realizes that Gordon had timed it perfectly, jumped as high as he could and reached over the wall -- into the bullpen -- to make the catch. Mahtook's trot came to a halt as the Royals ran off the field. Like everyone else, all Mahtook could do was shake his head and revel in the outstanding defense Gordon had just displayed.

Sept. 22, 2013: Maxwell's dramatic ending
Up until the 10th inning, the Royals' and Rangers' offenses were silent in this late-September game. But in the bottom of the 10th, Eric Hosmer got things started with a double that was Kansas City's first hit since the third inning. Billy Butler was intentionally walked, and Salvador Perez's one-hopper to the shortstop wasn't fielded in time to get the forceout, loading the bases with none out. The next two hitters made outs, but that brought Justin Maxwell up for a chance to be the hero. The blast cleared the left-field bullpen and set off a wild celebration on the field at Kauffman Stadium as the Royals won their 82nd game to clinch the franchise's first winning season since 2003.

April 12, 2015: Orlando's first three career hits are triples
Speed can be a dangerous weapon for any player to have, and Paulo Orlando showed why in 2015. The Brazilian outfielder became the first player since at least 1900 to have the first three hits of his career go for triples. His first came during his debut on April 9 against the White Sox. His second and third came against the Angels on April 12. Orlando's speed was no surprise as a former track star, and he told reporters that if a hit gets over an infielder's head, he's thinking triple right away. Orlando kept up the triple act with five in his first seven games as a Royal in 2015, the history adding to the magic that season.

July 19, 2003: Beltran stuns Wilson and the Mariners
All the crowd could do at Kauffman Stadium that mid-July day in 2003 was stand up and cheer, because what they had just witnessed was one of the best catches all season. Carlos Beltran, the Royals' young center fielder in his fifth full season, preserved what was a 2-1 lead over the Mariners in the seventh inning with a leaping grab that robbed catcher Dan Wilson of a game-tying home run. Playing shallow center field, Beltran read the ball as it sailed over his head and timed his jump into the wall perfectly, digging his right cleat into the padding and reaching over the top of the wall to make the snag. The crowd immediately gave a standing ovation as Royals pitcher Darrell May signaled his appreciation to Beltran from the mound.

July 11, 1990: Bo sprints up the wall
When Bo Jackson -- one of the greatest athletes American sports has ever seen -- reached top speed, seemingly nothing could slow him down. Not even an outfield wall at a big league ballpark. In this all-time moment, Jackson tracked down a drive to the wall at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, gloving it at a full sprint before running straight up the wall to slow himself down. Jackson later revealed that he scaled the wall to protect a separated shoulder, but no matter the reason, this remains one of the coolest plays you'll ever see.

April 11, 1977: Mayberry gets revenge on Yanks
Royals vs. Yankees was one of baseball's best rivalries in the late 1970s, and the wounds were still fresh in Kansas City from Chris Chambliss' walk-off home run that won the 1976 American League pennant. So it was only fitting that the Yanks were the Royals' first home opponents to kick off the '77 campaign, and only fitting that the home opener came down to the final at-bat.

John Mayberry delivered a small measure of revenge for Kansas City with this 13th inning, walk-off single against Yankees reliever Dick Tidrow to seal a hard-earned 5-4 win. The Bombers topped the Royals in the 1977 and '78 AL Championship Series before Kansas City got over the hump by sweeping New York for the '80 pennant.

Oct. 8, 2015: Cueto dominates Mets
The Royals acquired Johnny Cueto before the 2015 Trade Deadline to be their potential postseason workhorse, and that's exactly the role he filled. The right-hander shimmied and shook his way to a dominant one-run, complete-game victory in Game 2 of that year's World Series, at one point retiring 15 straight Mets hitters from the fourth through ninth innings. Kansas City's offense broke through against young Jacob deGrom, and the Royals banked a 7-1 victory to sweep their first two games at home.