Coming off of the 1985 Championship, there’s not much that could’ve made Royals fans even more excited. While the 1986 season brought plenty of the same names as ’85 – Saberhagen, Danny Jackson, Liebrandt, Leonard, Brett, White, and Pecota (obviously, no list can not include Bill Pecota) – there was one addition to the club that would set the tone for the next 5+ years. That name was drafted prior to the 1986 season and his name was Vincent “Bo” Jackson.
Drafting Bo didn’t really raise many eyebrows. This was the third time Bo was drafted and the drafting by Art Stewart, famed Royals scout, was something of a lottery ticket. If you haven’t seen the amazing ESPN 30 for 30 on Bo, you should literally stop what you are doing and watch it. It tells the story about how everyone knew he’d just go play football but thanks to some clever fortune, he ended up actually choosing to play baseball (mostly to spite the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who fucked him out of his NCAA baseball eligibility. Whatever Bo wanted to do, he did. So Bo reported to camp in 1986 with the Royals.
He was a September call up in 1986, but that Royals club was barreling towards a third place finish and one where they would lose their beloved manager, Dick Howser to brain cancer. #FuckCancer. Jackson was obviously very raw in those early years, but in 87, he hit 22 homers and had 10 stolen bases. It was also in 1987 that Jackson would report to his winter job playing professional football for the Los Angeles Fucking Raiders. (That’s how you spell it, right?)
For me, as a teenager, I marveled at the stories about Bo Jackson, but really, really, really disliked seeing him in the silver and black especially since it seemed the Royals wouldn’t be the same after 1985. It seemd like if your mom would show up in a crumpled up Playboy magazine under your bed. Just seemed wrong in many different ways.
Then 1988 and 1989 happened. I don’t need to go over the highlights, you know all about them – the Harold Reynolds throw, the one-handed homer, the wall climb. THE GOD DAMNED WALL CLIMB. And then “Bo Jackson says hello!” He was a real life action figure. The Nike campaigns, the All Star MVP, the leaping catches, the bat break over his head. Kansas City (and LA) had turned into Bo Jackson-ville. He was a god damned cartoon. LITERALLY.
But true to the nature of our mission here at Rambling Morons, we can’t give you a delicious slice of cheesecake without a swift kick in the balls. Our nomination for #48 on the list of Worst Royals Moments of All Time happened on January 13, 1991 in the AFC Divisional Playoff game.
After a short return to baseball in ’93 and ’94, Bo Jackson’s sparkling athletic career was over. It left Royals fans wondering what five more years of a healthy Bo Jackson in a Royals uniform would’ve looked like.He was never going to hit for average, but the 500-foot homers, the ad campaigns, and the speedy defense more than made up for it. (Seriously, tell me you wouldn’t like a guy hitting .250 with 81 RBI and 30 homers in left field for the Royals right now.)
Note: It’s nice to see Jackson being received back into the fold by the Royals. Jackson participated in spring training this year, and, as part of the Royals 50 campaign, seems to be setting up for some moments at Kauffman later this year – not to be missed.
Bo Jackson is one of the greatest sad stories in professional sports and for Royals fans, it marks our 48th worst moment in Royals history.
Next up, a celebratory #47.