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Recalling the Royals' 'farm team' years

If this were the 1950s, the Yankees’ next move might be a trade for Kansas City rookie Eric Hosmer, who introduced himself to the Bronx with a home run and game-winning sacrifice fly Wednesday night and followed those with a 3-for-5, two-RBI game that included a solo homer in Thursday’s Royal 11-5 pasting of the Yanks.

A 2007 book by Jeff Katz -- "The Kansas City A’s and the Wrong Half of the Yankees"-- would explain: In that long-ago time, when the Yankees were as insatiable as the current team for World Series titles, Kansas City was home to the Athletics -- they moved to Oakland in the mid-60s -- and was widely considered a New York "farm team."

Katz wrote of how trades between the two franchises were remarkably one-sided, giving the palpable sense that, any time the Yankees needed a final piece for yet another pennant drive, a particularly competent player could be plucked from K.C. at a bargain price. Several players went back-and-forth between the two teams, seemingly at the Yankees’ behest.

The likes of Norm Siebern, Irv Noren, Marv Throneberry, Hector Lopez, Bobby Shantz and Bud Daley were acquired from lowly Kansas City by the Yankees when the need arose in the Big Town. The most prominent name among players "called up" to the Yankees from K.C. was one Roger Maris, after a single strong year with the A’s.

So here is the 21-year-old Hosmer, promoted from Omaha last week while leading the minor leagues in hitting at .439, putting a dent in Yankee pitching as Kansas City this week took two of three from the Yanks, who hadn’t lost a season series to the Royals since 2000.

In his first six major-league games, Hosmer is hitting .333, with two home runs and five RBI. So far, pinstripe material.

Of course, it isn’t the 1950s anymore. If it were, Derek Jeter would still be 2,963 hits short of being tied for 29th in the all-time big-league hits list. But there is something about the presence of a Kansas City franchise, so often an also-ran in the American League, that makes the Yankees seem major league by comparison. And, by extension, makes an 11-5 loss to K.C. demand some sort of deal to restore Yankee supremacy.

 

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