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Whitey Herzog, manager who led Royals to first division titles, dies at 92

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals had been a model expansion franchise, turning a winning season in their third year, and soon becoming a contender.

But the team didn’t finish first until Whitey Herzog became the manager.

Herzog, who guided the Royals to three AL West titles in the 1970s, has died, the St. Louis Cardinals confirmed. He was 92.

The bulk of Herzog’s success came in St. Louis, where he led the Cardinals to the 1982 World Series championship and three National League pennants.

In Kansas City, Herzog molded a team of young stars like George Brett and Frank White, along with veterans like Hal McRae, Amos Otis and Paul Splittorff, into division champions.

“For us to come with the Royals and win the division and almost get to the World Series — that was my biggest thrill in baseball,” Herzog told The Kansas City Star in 2000, when he was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.”

Herzog’s teams won 90, 102 and 92 games as the Royals won the West from 1976-78. The Royals fell to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series in each of those seasons. His .574 winning percentage (410-304) is the best for a manager in Royals history.

“He’s the one that taught us how to win,” Brett said in a 2000 interview. “He expected good things, and he wasn’t going to tolerate anything but excellence.”

The Royals finished second in 1979, and Herzog, who had clashed with owner Ewing Kauffman, was fired after the season.

Herzog debuted as a manager with the Texas Rangers in 1973 and was manager of the California Angels in 1974. After Kansas City, Herzog took over in St. Louis as manager and general manager.

He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 with an all-time record of 1,281-1,125 (.532) over 18 seasons. His 822 wins with the Cardinals are third most in franchise history (Tony La Russa had 1,408 and Red Schoendienst had 1,041).

Herzog was the Cards’ manager in 1985, when they lost to the Royals in the World Series.

He also spent three of his eight major league seasons as a player with the Kansas City A’s (1958-60).

©2024 The Kansas City Star. Visit kansascity.com . Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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