The Kansas City Royals introduced new owner John Sherman this week, and during the press conference it was noted that Sherman was born April 12, 1955. That same day, 32,147 fans packed a renovated Municipal Stadium for the first game in Kansas City Athletics history, a 6-2 win over Detroit (capacity in 1955 was 30,296.) First pitch honors belonged to former President Harry Truman of nearby Independence, Mo.
KC's attendance ranked third among 16 big league teams in 1955, trailing only the Milwaukee Braves and New York Yankees. The excitement was short-lived: the Athletics played just 13 seasons in KC, all below .500. Attendance at Municipal dwindled to an announced 5,325 for a doubleheader home finale in 1967, with 21-year old Catfish Hunter tossing a shutout in game two.
Hunter's gem was a glimpse of pending greatness: several players from that final KC club would star in Oakland as the A's won three World Series and five straight division titles from 71-75. Ironically, it would be the Kansas City Royals snapping the division title streak in 1976.
Kansas City stayed the course after the A's left town, breaking ground in July 1968 for the Truman Sports Complex, named after the 33rd President. The complex was ahead of its time, featuring separate stadiums for baseball and football. Initial plans included a rolling roof that could cover either venue. The roof didn't materialize, though the eventual complex (since renovated) still bears resemblances to the early prototype (below.)
The expansion Royals began play in 1969, also at Municipal Stadium. Truman passed away on December 26, 1972, just over four months after Arrowhead Stadium opened to football and less than four months before Royals Stadium welcomed baseball. Nearly a half century later, the complex still honors Truman and a tenant, the Royals, have a new owner whose philanthropic background includes chairing the Truman Presidential Library Institute.
Ballpark Road Trip's 2020 season kicks off at Kauffman Stadium, part of the Truman Sports Complex. We hope you'll join us! Follow our blog as we highlight more of the baseball history in cities we'll visit, including more about Municipal Stadium.