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A look back at Royals first year players from 1985

Pour me some champagne meat!

Steve Farr winds back Photo by: Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Of course, every Royal fan worth their salt knows what 1985 meant. In leading the club to their first World Series title, Manager Dick Howser employed a tight roster all season. The club only used 35 players the entire season (14 pitchers and 21 position players). By comparison, the 2022 Royals used 55 different players, including an astounding 29 pitchers and 26 position players.

The 1985 Royals were the epitome of a veteran team and roster spots were hard to come by. Only two rookies made their debut in 1985. There were also four veterans who were in their first (and for some, their only) season in Kansas City. First the rookies.

Bob Hegman

Hegman, a native of Springfield, Minnesota (population 2,152) was a second baseman, drafted in the 15th round of the 1980 draft out of St. Cloud State, a school that also produced another Royal, Jim Eisenreich, in the same draft. Eisenreich came to the Royals in 1987, after a stint with the Twins and after being out of baseball for a couple of seasons. St. Cloud must have had an excellent team with these two guys on the roster.

In 1985, the Royals were set at second base, with Frank White still in fine form. Hegman made it to Kansas City late in the season. He appeared in exactly one game, a 10-3 Royals victory over Detroit on August 8th. He came on in the ninth inning, replacing George Brett, with Greg Pryor moving to third base. Bret Saberhagen was in the process of throwing a complete game, so Hegman ended the night with zero at-bats and zero chances in the field.

Best I can tell, Hegman is the Royals version of Moonlight Graham. Both were from Minnesota. Both got a short time in the field with no at-bats. Neither was heard from again. The Royals didn’t even give Hegman a World Series ring. All he got was a $100 check, which he quipped, “I thought about framing it, but I had to eat. You wait so long, all your life for that moment. Just running on the field, it was surreal”.

Hegman did play in the minors for seven seasons before calling it a career after the 1986 season at the tender age of 28. After his playing days, he spent 16 seasons with the Royals as their Senior Director of Minor League Operations and later worked as a scout for the Minnesota Twins.

Tony Ferreira

The Royals were pretty brutal on their 1985 rookies. Ferreira fared slightly better than Hegman, but not by much. Ferreira was selected by Kansas City in the second round of the 1981 draft out of North Riverside (CA.) high school. A left-handed pitcher, he buzzed through the Royals minor league system, logging a career-high 40 appearances with Omaha in 1984.

The Royals brought him up in late 1985 and he got into two games. His first outing, on September 17th against Seattle went fine, 2 innings of work, no runs, no hits, just one walk allowed. His next appearance, on October 6th against Oakland was a bit rougher: 3.2 innings, six hits, five runs.

The Royals went to the World Series. Ferreira went to the New York Mets in exchange for Angel Salazar, in an April 1986 trade. The trade was a minor win for the Royals, as Salazar played in 233 games over the next two seasons as a Royal before being part of the Danny Jackson to the Reds for Kurt Stilwell and Ted Power trade. Ferreira hung on for five more seasons, all in the minors, spending time with the Mets, Giants, Yankees and Brewers organizations, before returning to Omaha for his last season in 1990. But for 38 days in the summer of 1985, to paraphrase Crash Davis, he got to stay in the best hotels, eat the best room service and play in baseball cathedrals.

The 1985 Royals also employed four players new to the team, two of whom made significant contributions.

Lonnie Smith

Smith was drafted by the Phillies in the first round of the 1974 draft. That draft had some kind of first round. In addition to Smith, it produced Dale Murphy, Garry Templeton, Lance Parrish, Rick Sutcliffe and Willie Wilson. Smith played four very productive years in Philadelphia, where he hit a cumulative .321. After the 1981 season, the Phils traded Smith to St. Louis where he enjoyed another four productive seasons including his first and only All-Star appearance in 1982.

In May of 1985, John Schuerholz pulled off a great trade by sending John Morris, a former first-round pick in 1982, to the Cardinals for Smith. Smith, who went by the nickname of Skates, immediately solidified the left field position for Kansas City. He enjoyed three modestly productive years in Kansas City before bolting to Atlanta in free agency in 1988. He spent five years in Atlanta before closing out his career with stints in Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

The crazy thing about Smith was for many years he always seemed to end up in the World Series, having won titles with Philadelphia (1980), St. Louis (1982) and Kansas City (1985). He also appeared in the 1991 series as a member of the Braves. In that 1991 series, Smith was famously deked by Twins second baseman Chuck Knoblach which prevented him from scoring. With Smith on first, Terry Pendleton stroked one into the gap. Knoblach and shortstop Greg Gagne did a fake catch and relay which caused Smith to stop temporarily at second. The blunder kept the game scoreless. The Twins eventually won the game, 1-0.

Smith was also part of the Pittsburgh drug trials. After the 1987 season ended, Smith had difficulty finding a new team. He believed he had been blackballed by Schuerholz. Depressed and strung out on cocaine, Smith purchased a handgun and contemplated shooting Schuerholz. Fortunately, he reconsidered and dropped the idea. In a weird stoke of fate, Schuerholz eventually became the general manager of the Braves while Smith was playing there.

Steve Farr

If there was ever a poster boy for picking up a player who just needed a chance, it would be Steve Farr. Farr, a right-handed pitcher, had originally been signed as an amateur free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1976. The Bucs traded him to the Indians in a swap of minor leaguers 1983. In between, he mostly languished in the minors, for the better part of eight seasons.

He got a 31-game stint with Cleveland in 1984 before jumping to the Royals as a free agent at the age of 28. Something clicked and Farr became a mainstay in the Royals bullpen. In his six seasons with the club, he made 289 appearances, mostly as a middle reliever. He did start 12 games and saved 49, while throwing 511 innings with a very solid 3.05 ERA. The Royals elected not to re-sign him after the 1990 season, so he went to New York, where for three seasons as a Yankee, he was even better: 159 appearances, 78 saves and a 2.56 ERA.

After his Yankee era ended, he re-signed with Cleveland where he appeared in 19 games before the Tribe sent him to Boston in exchange for Jeff Russell. He retired after the 1994 season at the age of 37.

Omar Moreno

Moreno, a centerfielder, made his debut with the Pirates in 1975. By 1977 he was terrorizing National League pitchers with his speed. Between 1977 and 1982, he stole 396 bases, twice leading the league, and in 1980, set a Pirate record with 96 thefts. He spent 12 years in the majors, amassing 487 stolen bases, which is currently 42nd all-time.

He came to Kansas City in September of 1985 after being released by the Yankees. He appeared in 24 games and hit .243. He stole 12 bases for the Royals and even contributed a couple of home runs in an early homestand against the Brewers. The Royals left him off the post-season roster and released him after the season ended. He signed with the Braves and appeared in 118 games before closing the books on his career.

Mike LaCoss

LaCoss was a third-round pick of the Reds in the 1974 draft. He made his professional debut with the Reds in 1978 and by 1979 was looking like a future ace. He posted a 14-8 record and made his only All-Star team. That season would be the high point of LaCoss’ career. After being released by Cincy, he landed in Houston, where he pitched for three seasons. The Royals signed him for the 1985 season, and he appeared in 21 games, mostly in middle relief.

After being released by the Royals he hooked on with San Francisco, where he became a consistent workhorse. In six seasons on the Bay, he made 171 appearances, including 111 starts and a respectable 3.79 ERA. He spent his final season, 1992 with Indianapolis, the AAA affiliate of the Expos, before calling it a career at the age of 36.

The 1985 season was not a good year to be a rookie in the Royals system. The year will be remembered for the contributions of Smith and Farr, who were terrific value pickups.