According to Baseball America, California produces the most American-born ballplayers, which should be no surprise considering it is a warm-weather state with 39 million people. But it is actually Florida that produces more players per capita, followed by California and then Georgia and Mississippi. Kansas and Missouri fall in the middle of the pack, with the Sunflower State edging their border rivals.
Where do great Royals players come from? Let’s take a look state-by-state, and find the greatest Royals player native to that state. I used the state of birth, which isn’t always where a person is “from.” For instance, I was born in Michigan, but have no memory of living there, and consider myself from Kansas City, the metro-area we moved to when I was two years old. But birthstate provides a nice easy way to sort at Baseball Reference, so that’s what we’ll go with.
Alabama - Amos Otis and Willie Wilson
Alabama has produced a ton of Hall of Fame talent, including Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, WIllie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Billy WIlliams, Don Sutton, and Early Wynn. With the Royals, you could really have your pick of outstanding speedsters and I’m not going to even try to choose between the greatest base-stealer in franchise history, Willie Wilson, and great all-around player Amos Otis.
Alaska - None
Yea, no Royals hailed from Alaska. Just 12 big leaguers have ever come from there, most notably Curt Schilling.
Arizona - Brian Bannister
The population explosion here means someone will almost assuredly surpass Banny before very long, but I’ll give the cerebral pitcher the edge over Jeremy Affeldt for now.
Arkansas - Kevin McReynolds
McReynolds grew up on a National Guard base in Little Rock and played for the Razorbacks. He was said to have only played baseball to fund his duck hunting, which the Mets did, helping finance his duck hunting club in Arkansas as part of his contract.
California - Kevin Appier
George Brett and Bret Saberhagen both grew up in California, but were born elsewhere. Ape was born and raised in Lancaster, and attended college at Fresno State. Other Royals Californians include Mike Sweeney, Dan Quisenberry, Jermaine Dye, Mike MacFarlane, Steve Busby, Doug Bird, Ian Kennedy, Bud Black, Jason Vargas, Jason Kendall, Bill Buckner, Bob Boone, Tom Goodwin, and Brent Mayne.
Colorado - Luke Hochevar
Colorado has produced one Hall of Famer in Rich Gossage, but I believe Luke Hochevar is the only #1 overall pick from there. He was born in Denver, but grew up just east of Pueblo in Fowler. Hochevar made two starts in Coors Field in his career.
Connecticut - Ricky Bottalico
Ricky was an underwhelming closer for one year with the Royals, but the only other options here are Scott Barlow, who has pitched in six big league games, and Jesse Hahn, who still has yet to suit up for the Royals.
Delaware - Renie Martin
The Royals have a minor league affiliate in Delaware, but former pitcher Renie Martin is the only Royals player to hail from The First State.
District of Columbia - Kris Wilson
Though technically not a state, DC has more people than Vermont or Wyoming. And yet, the only Royals player from there is swingman pitcher Kris Wilson.
Florida - Hal McRae
A lot of great candidates here - Zack Greinke, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Wade Davis, Tom Gordon, and Lou Piniella all hail from the Sunshine State. But Hal defined the designated hitter position early for this franchise, and was the leader of two pennant-winners and a championship club, later managing the club and his son, Brian.
Georgia - Lorenzo Cain
LoCain was born in Valdosta, but hopped just over the state line, growing up in Madison County, Florida. Did you know he didn’t even play baseball until he was in high school there? Other Peach State Royals include Jeff Francoeur, Wally Joyner, Desi Relaford, Jonathan Broxton, and Kyle Davies.
Hawaii - Kila Kaaihue
The Royals scouted Hawaii pretty heavily for awhile, but Kila was all they got from it. They also claimed Hawaii native Kanekoa Texeira off waivers once.
Idaho - Harmon Killebrew
“Killer” was a Hall of Famer, although he was at the very end of his career when he signed on with the Royals. He is the only Royals player born in Idaho, although Billy Butler now resides there.
Illinois - Bret Saberhagen
The Royals could easily build a rotation out of their Illinois natives - Sabes, Charlie Leibrandt, Larry Gura, Marty Pattin, and Chad Durbin all come from the Land of Lincoln. Jim Sundburg could be their backstop, with Gary Gaetti, Ben Zobrist, and Kevin Seitzer in the infield, and Emil Brown and Lonnie Smith in the outfield.
Indiana - Paul Splittorff
Split was born in Evansville, but grew up in the Chicagoland area and went to college in Morningside College in Iowa. Jeff King also hails from Indiana, although he went to high school in Colorado and college at Arkansas.
Iowa - John Wathan
Wathan was nicknamed “The Duke” for his impression of John Wayne, who also hailed from Iowa. Mike Boddicker was part of the legendary program in Norway, Iowa, subject of the film The Final Season.
Kansas - Johnny Damon
Damon was a bit of a prodigal son, born at Fort Riley, but moving around as an Army brat and attending high school in Florida. He got to play for his “hometown” Royals, saying it was a thrill playing for his favorite team, but was traded away over money. Other native Kansans include Aaron Crow, Larry McWilliams, and Steve Renko.
Kentucky - Paul Byrd
Royal Kentuckians are a collection of players who spent a short time in Kansas City - Terry Shumpert, Todd Benzinger, Scott Downs, Joe Blanton, and Nate Adcock. But Paul Byrd at least had one fantastic season for the Royals, wiith a 5.6 WAR season in 2002.
Louisiana - Gil Meche
Lafayette native Gil Meche had a few solid seasons with the Royals, earning him the nod over Vida Blue, Bob Oliver, and Johnny Giavotella.
Maine - Matt Kinney
No Mainers ever played for the Royals. They were probably too busy fighting off those pesky Canadians. Do you remember Matt Kinney? Neither do I.
Maryland - Steve Farr
Farr grew up just outside of Washington, D.C. and attended American University, not to be confused with “National American University.”
Massachusetts - Greg Gagne
No disrespect to one-time franchise single-season home run champ Steve Balboni or diminuitive reliever Tim Collins, but Greg Gagne was a solid all-around player from Massachusetts.
Michigan - John Mayberry
Big John hailed from Detroit, and attended nearby University of Michigan, as did Chris Getz. Kirk Gibson was a star on the gridiron at Michigan State. Other Michiganders include Pat Sheridan, Mitch Maier, Les Norman, Keith Miller and Clint Hurdle.
Minnesota - Jim Eisenreich
Eisenreich was drafted by his hometown Twins but retired after nervous tics affected his play. He was playing in an adult softball league in his hometown of St. Cloud when he decided to give pro baseball another try. He succeeded, getting his Tourette’s Syndrome under control, and became a very valuable outfielder for the Royals.
Mississippi - Frank White
You were probably expecting to see Frank under “Missouri”, but while he grew up in Kansas City, he was actually born in Greenville, Mississippi.
Missouri - Darrell Porter
It would easily be Kansas City-native David Cone had the Royals not traded him away, not once, but twice in ill-fated deals. But Darrell Porter was an All-Star catcher for their 1980 club, and while he actually grew up in Oklahoma, he was born in Joplin and unfortunately, died in suburban Kansas City at the young age of 50
Montana - None
Former Royals bench coach John Gibbons was born in Great Falls, but that is the closest connection the Royals can make.
Nebraska - Alex Gordon
Were you guessing it would be Joba Chamberlain?
Nevada - Mike MacDougal
Up until 1968, the Silver State had produced just one big leaguer, but in the past few years the state has produced Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, and Joey Gallo. Expect more Royals from Nevada as the state grows in population.
New Hampshire - Rich Gale
Gale had a terrific rookie campaign as a pitcher with the Royals in 1978, but tailed off quickly after that. The only other Royals player from the Granite State is Matt Tupman, who got all of one at-bat in the big leagues.
New Jersey - Jose Rosado
The Garden State produced two Royals who were brilliant, then flamed out too quickly - Rosado and slugger Bob Hamelin. Perhaps current Royals pitcher Heath Fillmyer will have a better outcome.
New York - Dennis Leonard
Leonard grew up on Long Island and attended Iona College in New York. Other New Yorkers include Danny DeJesus, Raul Ibanez, Richie Scheinblum, Mike Aviles, and Kevin McCarthy.
North Carolina - Greg Holland
The Royals have cultivated a few closers from North Carolina, not only grabbing Greg Holland but their first-ever closer, Ted Abernathy, from the Tarheel State.
North Dakota - Matt Strahm
Sorry, I didn’t intend to remind you about that lousy trade again.
Ohio - Jeff Montgomery
Monty was born and raised in Wellston, about two hours east of Cincinnati. He was drafted by his hometown Reds but traded to the Royals after just one season. He became an All-Star closer with 300 career saves, making it a laughably bad trade for the Reds.
Oklahoma - UL Washington
The Sooner State has produced the most players per capita than any other state in the Midwest, and has produced Hall of Famer like Mickey Mantle, Willie Stargell, and Johnny Bench. The Royals haven’t taken advantage of the nearby state much though, getting UL Washington through the Royals Academy.
Oregon - Jeremy Guthrie
J-Guts was born in Roseland and grew up in Ashland. He is not the only Oregon native to start Game 7 of the World Series, Portland native Mickey Lolich did that feat in 1968 for the Tigers and was named World Series MVP.
Pennsylvania - Mark Gubicza
Goobie is associated with southern California now, as he works on the Angels’ broadcast team, but he actually hails from Philadelphia.
Puerto Rico - Carlos Beltrán
The tiny island has produced numerous Royals, including Christian Colon, Juan Gonzalez, Benito Santiago, Danny Tartabull, Chico Lind, Rey Sanchez, Roberto Hernandez, Jonathan Sanchez, and current pitcher Jorge Lopez.
Rhode Island - None
Maybe they can sign Jeff Beliveau.
South Carolina - Whit Merrifield
The former Gamecock needed just under three seasons to pass fellow South Carolinian Willie Aikens in career WAR with the Royals.
South Dakota - Floyd Bannister
This would be Mark Ellis had we not traded him away as a minor leaguer in the Johnny Damon deal. Brian’s dad Floyd was a bit of a bust after the Royals brought him in, but he easily beats out Dusty Coleman as the best Royals player from South Dakota.
Tennessee - Mike Minor
Minor is one of a number of lefties the Royals have gotten from the Tennessee State joining Jimmy Gobble, Jamie Walker, and Cody Reed.
Texas - Fred Patek
Freddie the Flea grew up in Seguin, just outside San Antonio. The Royals have three current Texas natives - Ryan O’Hearn, Hunter Dozier, and Glenn Sparkman - that perhaps could pass him one day.
Utah - Brandon Duckworth
“Ducky” beats out Ryan Jensen for best Utahn ever in Royals history.
Vermont - None
No state has produced fewer players per capita in recent years than Vermont. Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk is pretty much the only notable player from the state.
Virginia - Michael Tucker
Tucker grew up in south Virginia, near the North Carolina border and went to school at a tiny Division III school in Virginia
Washington - Jeff Conine
Tacoma-born Jeff Conine went to high school in California. While he could play first base or outfield, he wasn’t nearly as versatile as Washingtonian Willie Bloomquist.
West Virginia - George Brett
The Bretts moved around a bit. Brother Ken was actually born in Brooklyn, and the family moved to West Virginia where George was born. They eventually relocated to El Segundo, just outside of Los Angeles.
Wisconsin - Joe Randa
Smilin’ Joe grew up an hour west of Milwaukee, and was even offered a contract by his hometown Brewers as a high schooler. He ended up going to junior college in Florida and the University of Tennessee where the Royals drafted him.
Wyoming - John Buck
Buck fell just 20 games short of tying the record for most games played by a Wyoming native, a record held by Mike Lansing.