Title: Grand Slam
Official Magazine of the Kansas City Royals
Discovered at: Silver Lining Thrift Shop, 9537 West 87th Street, Overland Park, Kansas
The cover promises: Steroids dont exist. The K is Royals Stadium. New York is aware of our rivalry. A season of .500 ball results in firings instead of parades.
Representative quote: In the past, the Royals have always played good, exciting baseball with a lot of desire and hustle, and I expect us to continue with that type of play, he [manager Jim Frey] emphasizes. (page 7)
Today, with the Royals' front office laboring mightily to sell Kansas City on a Kauffman Stadium recently "upgraded" — again — at our expense, much of the cheerful advertorial content of 1980's official Royals magazine seems a bit grand. Right there on the first page, in a splashy piece headlined "Royals Stadium — Baseball At Its Best," that park we just dropped $250 million on is described as "baseball's finest facility." It is "a brilliant structure" with "a breathtaking combination of spacious beauty and practicality."
Let's be clear: Its practicality is breathtaking.
Still, it was a fine park, even at the advanced age of seven, and even without a carousel in the outfield plaza.
Of course, Royals' fans had plenty to feel good about back then. Grand Slam swells with all the optimism (and advertisements) that a winning team inspires. Photos labeled "At home With the Royals" reveal fit, confident players who are much thinner — and much more heavily mustachioed — than today's highly paid slabs. Hunky first baseman Pete LaCock — a playground favorite for his name alone — hugs an Alaskan malamute while his gorgeous wife and daughter beam. Amos Otis and family hunkered down in front of a Cadillac with a vanity plate reading "AO26" and a bumper sticker reading "Watch MY rear end... not HERS!!!"
Head shots of youngish-looking Denny Matthews, Fred White and Denny Trease, compared with their current photos, show the wear and tear from broadcasting more than a decade of losing ball.
The official text is fascinating, but the advertisements reveal the most. One announces, "Kansas City Spells Relief: R-O-L-A-I-D-S" and salutes Bruce Sutter and Jim Kern, 1979's MLB League Winners in relief pitching. (Beginning in 1980, the Royals' Dan Quisenberry would win this title four years in a row.) Another ad for Milgram grocery store promises, "At Milgram, you're special." This goes to show that you never know your hometown as well as you think you do: All my life, thanks to my parents' habitual mispronunciation, I thought Milgram ended with an apostrophe and an s: Milgram's.
A John Deere ad featuring groundskeeper George Toma on a lawnmower is curious, considering that the stadium used artificial Tartan turf until 1995. (Maybe he should have posed on a vacuum cleaner.) Toma's team famously worked that turf inch by inch, and the celebrated grass man's job duties also involved maintaining Ewing Kauffman's lawn, so I'm inclined to trust the endorsement.
Less charming are George Brett's ads for Spot-Bilt cleats or Life Buoy soap (pictured) — was the word no in No. 5's vocabulary? And has anyone ever enjoyed a shower so much?
The past wasn't all better. In 1980, Oxy-numbed mouth breather (and Brett BFF) Rush Limbaugh lived right here in Kansas City, where he served as the Royals' director of group sales and occasionally stunk up the airwaves as "Jeff Christie," a name only slightly less porny than Pete LaCock.
A record of 97-65. Attendance of more than 2 million. After three straight years of Royals-Yankees playoffs, Kansas City swept New York in the American League Championship Series. In the World Series, the Royals lost to the Phillies in six. A year later, Yankees manager Dick Howser would decamp to KC.
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