If only a few people today are aware that the Philadelphia Athletics existed then almost nobody knows that for a few short years there was an Athletics club that played in Kansas City before finding a home for good in Oakland.
The A’s stayed just long enough in Kansas City for the Royals today to bring former KC A’s players to Kauffman Stadium when Oakland is in town, but that’s about it.They arrived from Philadelphia in 1955. Prior to this Kansas City baseball was known for the Negro League powerhouse, the Kansas City Monarchs, and for having the NY Yankees top minor league club. So naturally the city was excited for the arrival of a major league club.
32,844 were in attendance for their first game at KC Municipal Stadium and saw the Athletics beat the Detroit Tigers, 8-2. Unfortunately, some baseball history buffs consider that day the high point of the franchise in Kansas City. They finished 63-91 that year, which was good for 6th place.
1956 was not much better as the A’s finished 52-102, which put them solidly in last place. Worse, ownership felt it should deal away players that came with the club from Philadelphia in order to establish a new identity. Those players, former A’s, blossomed on the Yankees, helping them to play championship baseball – so the new identity Kansas City gained, unfairly or no, was that of a Yankees farm club.
1957 – tough year, 59-94 … 7th place.
In the middle of 1958 the A’s traded for Roger Maris from the Cleveland Indians. Immediately, Maris was a fan favorite – probably the highest profile player the franchise saw in Kansas City. Despite the new blood (Maris being a top tier talent) the Athletics finish in 7th place with a 73-81 record.
1959 things go sour again – after another seventh place finish (going a non-competitive 66-88) the Athletics alienate their fans and breathe new life into their reputation as a Yankees placeholder by trading their star slugger, Roger Maris, to New York.
The trade really didn’t work out, as Maris achieved immortality while a Yankee while the A’s got Hank Bauer – who would play two seasons for Kansas City before becoming the A’s manager.