KANSAS CITY – Mike Sweeney, one of the all-time great Royals, took in a scene Tuesday that he never got to experience as a player.
A five-time All-Star first baseman, Sweeney is now a special assistant and roving instructor for Kansas City’s front office. He watched batting practice before Game 1 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium and said he felt very much a part of what the current team is achieving.
“We always wanted to be a part of bringing a World Series championship to the city,” Sweeney said. “I fell short as a player. But this year I took on a role with the front office. I told them the only reason I’m doing this is I wanna play a part in bringing a flag to be hung over the Royals Hall of Fame.
“To sit here eight months later and be four wins away from doing that, it’s a dream come true. I think it’s more gratifying than anything I’ve ever done as a player.”
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Sweeney, who spent the 2008 season with the A’s, ranks second to George Brett on Kansas City’s career homers list with 197, and he’s fifth in RBI (837). He got a chance Tuesday to catch up with Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, an Oakland teammate in 2008. But it’s his Royals heritage that Sweeney is most proud of.
For the past two-plus decades, most talk surrounding the Royals, at least in national circles, has centered on their futility. Before this season, Kansas City hadn’t appeared in the playoffs since 1985, the longest postseason drought of any team in the four major North American sports.
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But the kind of success the Royals have experienced this season sheds light on the proud history of the team. Sweeney, who played with the Royals from 1995-2007, said it was important to him to pass on that sense of history to the generation of players behind him.
“Guys like George Brett and Frank White were instrumental in bringing Kansas City to the big baseball stage,” Sweeney said. “And guys like Jeff Montgomery and Mike MacFarlane , Mark Gubicza, they passed it on to guys like me and Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran, Joe Randa. We passed it on to guys like Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Luke Hochevar.”