DIAMOND CATHEDRALS: Kauffman Stadium, home to the Kansas City Royals

You might want to shield your eyes from Royals baseball and instead drink deeply of the park in which those Royals bumble. Kauffman Stadium was built in the 70s, and unlike, oh, every other park built in that decade it’s a keeper. Watch the sun set behind the outfield fountains, and you’ll know you’re in the right place. And even among the newer parks, it’s hard to find a facility that’s more “family friendly” — that’s especially the case when it comes to things to distract and occupy agitated toddlers. The giant crown is an especially nifty touch. Opened April 10, 1972.

New York Yankees v Kansas City RoyalsIn 1967, voters in Jackson County, Missouri approved the bonds for Truman Sports Complex, which featured a football stadium for the Kansas City Chiefs and a baseball stadium for the Kansas City Athletics, whose owner, Charles O. Finley, had just signed a new lease to remain in Kansas City. This was a very unusual proposal; conventional wisdom at the time held that separate football and baseball stadiums were not commercially viable. Before the 1968 season, however, Finley moved the A’s to Oakland, California, and their brand-new multi-purpose stadium.

A game at Royals Stadium on Sunday, September 19, 1976. The pitcher is Chris Knapp and the batter is Tom Poquette. The Royals would beat the White Sox 6 to 5.
After the move, Missouri Senator Stuart Symington threatened to press for the revocation of baseball’s anti-trust exemption if they did not give Kansas City a new team. Baseball responded by hastily granting expansion franchises to four cities, including a Kansas City team owned by local pharmaceutical magnate Ewing Kauffman. The new teams were due to start play in 1971. However, Symington was not about to have Kansas City wait three years for the return of baseball, and forced MLB to move up the start date to 1969. Jackson County continued its plans to build a new ballpark. After playing four seasons in Kansas City Municipal Stadium, on April 10, 1973, the Royals inaugurated Royals Stadium with a win over the Texas Rangers.

On May 15, 1973, the stadium, barely a month into its existence, saw Nolan Ryan, pitching for the California Angels, throw the first of his seven no-hitters, blanking the Royals 3–0.

On July 24, 1973, Royals Stadium hosted its first of two Major League Baseball All-Star Games.

kauffman-sec420-backOn October 9, 1976, the Royals competed in their first post-season game in franchise history, losing 4–1 to the New York Yankees at Royals Stadium in the American League Championship Series. The Royals came back to win the next game on October 10, 6–3, for their first post-season win in Royals Stadium.

On October 17, 1980, the first World Series game held in Kansas City featured the hometown Royals against the Philadelphia Phillies. In his first at-bat, George Brett hit a home run down the right field line. The Royals would go on to record their first-ever World Series win, 4–3 in 10 innings. However, the Royals would lose the World Series that year in six games.

On October 11, 1985, in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, George Brett hit two home runs off Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Doyle Alexander, made a back-handed stop at third base to throw out a runner at home, and recorded the final out to give the Royals a much-needed 6–5 win. The Royals went on to win the American League pennant in seven games.

MLB Photos: Kansas City RoyalsOn October 27 of that same year, the Royals clinched their first World Series title in franchise history, winning Game 7 in Royals Stadium. Led by the pitching of Bret Saberhagen, Darryl Motley’s two-run home run, and George Brett’s four hits, the Royals beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11–0. The Royals were the first team in the history of the World Series to lose the first two games of the series at home and come back to win.

The stadium hosted the Royals’ first playoff game in nearly 29 years when the city’s former team, the Athletics, came to town for the 2014 American League Wild Card Game. Despite trailing 7-3 in the eighth inning, Kansas City rallied to win the game, 9-8, and advance to the Division Series. They hosted Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 against the San Francisco Giants in the World Series but lost.