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Old Man Duggan’s first trip to the K

A younger old man at 22 comes home for the first time

Mark Quinn #62

Hello. I’m an old.

You may know some of us. We remember a world before the internet was a widely available thing. I was in sixth grade the first time I heard about the internet. My family didn’t have the internet in our home until I was a freshman in high school, and then it was painfully slow dial-up internet that took roughly a minute to load a single photograph.

For nearly the entirety of this Dark-Aged youth, I was an out-of-market fan of the Kansas City Royals. With the first baseball season I have much memory of being the 1987 season, this meant that there were very few chances to see the Royals in any way. They were virtually never featured on the weekly nationally televised game, certainly not once Bo Jackson’s days with the Royals were over. In the pre-Interleague Era, they never played the Braves or Cubs, the only two teams whose games were broadcast to everyone with cable subscriptions.

Aside from living outside of Wichita for two months of the 1990 season and all of the 1991 season, my getting to see the Royals play was limited to driving up to see them from southern Minnesota maybe once a season at the Metrodome and hoping SportsCenter might deign to show 10 seconds of highlights from a game while I was watching at a friend’s house.

Otherwise, the most an out-of-market kid could do was follow the box scores the next day in the paper and check the weekly updates of the batting-average leaderboard in the Sunday paper.

It got a little better when I went to college in Minneapolis, as it might not be years between seeing Royals games since I lived so close to the Metrodome, but that still meant watching a baseball game in the Metrodome. Baseball is a game best enjoyed outdoors. Watching the Royals in the Metrodome—a venue suited for little other than maybe a monster truck rally—was decidedly suboptimal.

As the University of Minnesota didn’t yet have cable in rooms on campus, it still meant that I didn’t get to watch games until after my third and final year of school, when I moved out of the dorms and had barely enough money to foot one-sixth of a cable bill.

Still living in the era, this meant I could probably see around 15 Royals games a season on television if I never ventured out to the Metrodome.

Given the hellish horror show that was the Royals franchise from the strike through about 2014, this was probably all a blessing in disguise.

After finishing the third and final year of my bachelor’s degree at Minnesota with two summer courses, three friends and I set out on an not-quite-epic journey—a four-day trek from Minneapolis to Denver to Kansas City and back, passing through the terrifying Great Platte River Road Archway outside of Kearney in the dark of night with no idea what we’d just seen or why the hell it was there before wandering aimlessly around the Colorado University campus to burn enough time before the first Coors Brewery Tour started where we poured four peoples’ worth of drinks down the gullet of one sleep-deprived soul, grabbed a catnap, took in a Ween/Tenacious D show at Red Rocks, passed out still seething at a middle-act Galactic playing an interminable and awful two-hour set while all we wanted was for Ween to come on and play and finish allowing us to go back to our hotel and sleep after not sleeping for two days, ate breakfast with one of the other guy’s uncles, ventured east across the topographical monotony of eastern Colorado and, um, all of Kansas, foisted a burned copy of a Galactic album upon an unsuspecting Wendy’s drive-thru worker in Colby saying it was our band, and rolled into Kansas City just in time to walk in the gates during the first inning.

As one of the four of us worked in ticketing for the Twins and the Twins were the Royals’ opponents, the tickets were good and heavily discounted—possibly even free. We sat a few sections up the third base line from home plate, four of roughly 22,000 people in attendance on a Saturday night against a second-place team in late August (August 25, 2001 to be exact).

In a fitting turn for an out-of-market fan who was not subjected to day-after-day in year-after-year of first-hand misery care of the Kansas City Royals, the Royals fell behind almost instantly. Shortly after we found our way into our seats, the Royals led by Kris Wilson—whose existence honestly surprises me, as I’d completely forgotten that there was a Royal by that name, let alone that he’d thrown 235.0 innings scattered over four miserable seasons of 5.32 ERA/5.61 FIP baseball—and Dave McCarty—who doesn’t remember the storied Royals career of Dave McCarty—dug themselves a 5-0 hole in a dismal second inning.

McCarty kicked things off with a fielding error at—let’s just see what position you think it was at? Answer in the poll below—_______. Rather than being out, the dastardly Canuck Corey Koskie stood at second base. Kris Wilson, who I defy any of you to pick out of a police lineup, induced a fly-ball out from Torii Hunter before ceding a double, single, and single to David Ortiz, Brian Buchanan, and A.J. Pierzynski respectively. The Ortiz double drove in the unearned Koskie run. Pierzynski drove in Ortiz for Wilson’s first earned run of the game, and then Luis Rivas flew out to center for what could have been the third out of the inning had McCarty not bonered.


What position was career .242/.305/.371 hitter Dave McCarty playing on August 25, 2001 while hitting eighth in the order?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    (4 votes)
  • 45%
    First base
    (74 votes)
  • 17%
    Second base
    (29 votes)
  • 4%
    (7 votes)
  • 9%
    Third base
    (16 votes)
  • 11%
    Left field
    (19 votes)
  • 1%
    Center field
    (3 votes)
  • 6%
    Right field
    (10 votes)
162 votes total Vote Now

But there was definitely a McCarty boner, and the inning continued. Jacque Jones singled to right, and Mark Quinn came home with the throw that did not nab Buchanan at the dish, letting Jones advance to second on the throw. Cristian Guzmán followed up with a double to right, which plated both Pierzynski and Jones, but Guzmán got thrown out at third on the relay throw from second baseman Carlos Febles. So the Guzmán made the final out of the inning at third, but the Twins had pushed five runs across the plate in the second.

Other than Carlos Beltrán’s first-inning walk and subsequent stolen base before being stranded at second, the Royals had no answer for a Joe Mays who was in the midst of his only good season. Beltrán worked a second walk in the fourth and advanced to second on a passed ball, but he got no further. Gregg Zaun took the no-hitter off the board as the first Royals batter in the fifth, but he shockingly advanced no further than second base before the flaccid Royal attack left him hanging.

The Twins tacked on runs in the third and fifth, running their lead to 7-0, and the natives soon grew restless. Fans quickly devolved into trying to come up with ways to entertain themselves. While the more pastorally inclined may have attempted to get a better look at the grass that was still present beyond the fence in the outfield before the renovations to the K took place, the gents in our section decided that this was the time to needle Mark Quinn.

For those of you who might need a refresher, here is a passage from Max’s Greatest 100 Royals of All-Time Series (of which Quinn, who checked in at #97, would thankfully no longer be a member):

In Mark Quinn's rookie season he hit .294/.342/.488 with 20 home runs and an amazing 35 walks. He finished third in Rookie of the Year balloting and Royals fans dreamt of a powerful lineup of Damon, Beltran, Sweeney, Dye and Quinn slugging them to success.

Mark Quinn had other ideas. His discipline at the plate declined precipitously. He drew just 12 walks in 473 plate appearances in 2001, going 241 consecutive plate appearances without drawing an unintentional walk.

As he trotted to first base, the crowd cheered, stadium fireworks went off and scoreboard flashed, "Walk! Walk!" "I looked over at the pitcher and he was laughing, too," the free-swinging outfielder said. "I'm just glad to get that monkey off my back, so people can find something else to blow up and make a big deal out of."

That lack of discipline at the plate spread to his work habits. He never found the time to work hard at his craft, instead dating Playboy models and practicing Kung Fu with his brother. His kung fu injuries and other injuries kept him out almost the entire 2002 season. The Royals released him in the spring of 2003. At age 29, Mark Quinn was already washed up, another "what if" the Royals had seen far too much of in the last decade.

The fans in our section let Quinn have it EVERY. TIME. HE. WAS. WITHIN. EARSHOT. Quinn’s unintentional walk-less streak was still five games from ending, and there is no way Quinn wasn’t intimately aware of this fact as his hometown fans jeered him. On the night, he never saw a count in which he ran it to more than one ball.

For the first seven innings, there were just three Royals on base. In the eighth, McCarty doubled to left in an effort to prolong the agony but was stranded.

With Joe Mays’s pitch count at a mere 103 heading into the ninth, Ron Gardenhire sent him out to try to finish things off. Neifi Pérez predictably acquiesced, but Carlos Beltrán—the good Royal—singled. At this point, Beltrán had been three-fifths of the Royals offense against Mays and the Twins. Raúl Ibañez flew out to left to leave just one out for the Royals to storm back seven runs and seize a victory from the jaws of defeat.

At this point, the mighty Mark Quinn stepped to the plate. Beltrán advanced on defensive indifference, and Quinn shot a grounder through the infield on the left side to plate Beltrán. If ever a greater act of heroism in sport existed, I had not seen it.

A Gregg Zaun single drove Mays from the game, and real human named Jack Cressend came in to face the fearsome Dee Brown. Brown pumped up his cleats, closed his eyes, and threw his arm across his face, but all the theatrics in the world weren’t enough for the stuff of Jack Cressend. Brown struck out, putting an end to the Royals’ rally, leaving them just six runs short of tying things up.

That night, we went to a liquor store, this special night the first of so, so many in which the Royals drove me to drink. While finding a Hy-Vee, one of the two drivers in the group who didn’t know that an oil light coming on was serious business drove for about ten miles with the oil light on. The next morning, the other of the two drivers who didn’t respect the oil light as an immediate issue needing to be addressed drove another ten or so miles before saying something.

The car didn’t make it. We randomly ran into an uncle of mine at the Hy-Vee in Liberty, who was so kind as to run us out to the airport to let us get a rental car and thus passage home.

The Royals may have killed my friend’s mothers car. They certainly extinguished a lot of general hope over the course of three decades between World Series titles. Still, is there anything better than going to a game at the K?