The internet has been around for generations now, but websites are still a relatively new phenomenon. The world wide web was not used mainstream until the late 90s, and companies and organizations had to scramble to make their presence known. Often times, domain names were owned by squatters, companies that scooped up every possible URL a company would want, then selling it to that company at a big markup. If you were not willing to meet the price, well you might be left with a difficult URL.
The Royals did not originally own the rights to “royals.com”, instead the site was owned in the mid-90s by Digimedia, a domain squatting company in Oklahoma that once made $1 million selling “Box.com”. Ah, the heady days of the internet bubble. Many teams found it difficult to meet the asking price of their squatters, and in some cases the original domain owner did not even want to sell. Only very recently did MLB purchase the rights to domains for Rockies.com, Athletics.com, and Cardinals.com, and they still do not own the rights to Twins.com.
Anyways, the Royals were unable to meet whatever the asking price was for “royals.com” until about 2000, and so they took “kcroyals.com”, with a site designed by the people at “kansascity.com”, which at the time was not affiliated with the Kansas City Star. According to the Wayback Machine, the website “kcroyals.com” first shows up in the summer of 1997.
It is a wonderful tribute to 90s-era design. The blank, black background is a welcome throwback to today’s busy sites. Comic sans was still used unironically. No pop up ads asking you if you’re interested in Oprah’s diet tips. The directions were simple. Do you want Today’s Game Notes? Well check out the link that says “Game Notes.”
Yep, the Royals lost 12-5 to the Angels that day, which was a pretty common occurrence back then. Glendon Rusch started the game, and the Royals gave up five runs in the ninth. Speaking of the team, the Royals invited you to vote for Royals players for the All-Star team. Online voting has been going on as far back as 1997, although back then Royals fans weren’t exactly stuffing the ballots for Craig Paquette.
By 1998, the site had undergone a minor re-design, lightening up the background image. It still looked like something an intern could design on Geocities (ask your parents what that is), which is actually probably what happened here. Oh and hey, the game was closer!
Ah yes, Randy Travis used to be known for more than his drunken, naked driving.
Still more tweaks in 2000, including the addition of frames. Remember frames?
Yea, the Glass family was honored for purchasing the team. Fans didn’t know what lay ahead the next six years. Oh and Chris Fussell. Yeesh.
By 2002, the Royals were put under the umbrella of MLB.com, standardizing sites for teams across the league with the same basic format. Everything got a lot more....busy.
Hey, what about Royals Review? Well, it began as a blogspot, known as “Royals Nightly.”
D.A.R.Y.L. was the nickname given by blog founder Will McDonald to Royals pitcher Darrell May. Its probably my first memory of the site.
In 2005, the site migrated over to “Royals Review”, as part of a fledgling network of sports blogs, known as SB Nation.
I miss that old logo, but it should be pointed out, he is poised to fight an opponent behind home plate. Is it an umpire? A dragon that has wandered onto the field? Also, is he wearing shorts? That seems like a poor choice of clothing for a knight, but hey, gotta let the legs breathe.
Look at all the comments. Like five comments back then was a ton of traffic. People weren’t clamoring to talk about Tony Graffanino. But Will slowly attracted a community through his irreverent wit, and before long, we had thousands of users, creating a wonderful community of pop-tart eating stat nerds and Mitch Maier fans.
The internet has been a world-changing creation that has had its negatives (online harassment, phishing, ESPN.com’s layout) and positives (online communities, all of humanity’s collected knowledge at your fingertips, cat gifs). It is constantly evolving, but at its core are the people that use it, and I thank you for making this weird corner of the internet a home.