Before the expansion Royals played their first game, general manager Cedric Tallis pulled off one of his all-time great trades on this date in 1969. He sent Steve Whittaker and John Gelnar to the Seattle Pilots in exchange for Lou Piniella.
At the time, the deal filled a pressing need for the Royals, giving them a right-handed bat with power potential.
Piniella was the first batter in franchise history and went 4-5 with a walk in the Royals debut a week later. He went on to hit .282/.325/.416 playing a solid left field for the Royals en route to winning the 1969 American League Rookie of the Year Award.
He played five years for the Royals and while he wasn't on the teams that formed the glory years, he was certainly part of their genesis.
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Piniella was traded at the end of the '73 season to the Yankees for Lindy McDaniel. McDaniel pitched 175 innings for the Royals over the next two years. Piniella went on to amass over 3,500 plate appearances for the Yankees and appeared in five postseasons from 1976 through 1981.
He was honored for his Royals career by being named the 31st best player in franchise history.