Looking back at 50 years of Royals baseball

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The Kansas City Royals are celebrating their 50th season. They got their start at Municipal Stadium, which was home field to the Kansas City Athletics and the Monarchs and Blues before that. Such greats as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays and Satchel Paige played at the stadium on 22nd and Brooklyn.

Since 1923, crowds of Kansas Citians have poured through the gates to see their favorite teams play ball.

In 1955, the A's came to town and the city had its first Major League team led by showman Charlie O. Finley and his mule of a mascot. The President of Kansas City's Baseball Historical Society Jeff Logan remembers riding on the mule as a boy.

"He wouldn’t even know what inning it was. He would get a kid on the back of the mule and run out on the field in the middle of a game."

Finley liked animals, so he wanted to open a petting near right field. That went horribly awry when he tried to move monkeys into the park.

Logan said, "it never got to be seen by the public because before they could pitcher Moe Drabowski fed them greenies, which was speed in those days that all the players took.  They ate the speed and went berserk and broke free from their cages terrorized the neighborhood, bit everyone. People say they were shot."

The Royals held their Opening Day at Municipal in 1969, beating the Minnesota Twins 4 to 3 in 12 innings of play. The Royals played at Municipal through the 1972 season, when owner Ewing Kauffman moved the team to the new Truman Sports Complex.

Municipal were demolished, sort of. The field sat about 30 feet below street level and some of the stadium memorabilia was removed or sold for scrap, but Logan remembers fans carrying off seats and doors and hardware for several months.

The rest of the stadium, including the dugouts, is probably just buried. Logan has even picked up blue pieces of concrete and orange tile from the grounds.  "When they build a new home, they build a foundation, and when you walk out there, you shouldn’t do that folks. If you were to do that, you can find pieces of the stadium," Logan said.

A full park once covered the hallowed grounds of Municipal Stadium. Now, only a few deteriorating plaques remain at the site.  A weathered reminder of nearly 50 years of some of the city's best baseball.

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