He was rockin’ a nifty mustache, sporting sunglasses and his hair color matched his last name.
Bud Black was rolling through Kansas City’s streets, back then, and my what a long way from Rancho Santa Fe.
“I remember the parade because the turnout was so great,’’ Black said from his RSF home. “That and we had a minimal amount of sleep.’’
There’s a buzz in the baseball playoffs thanks to the Kansas City Royals as they open Friday against the Orioles in the American League Championship Series.
Not since 1985 did the postseason include the Royals, the same year of their only world title.
A peek at Royals games in K.C. come with an appreciation of an exuberant fan base going bonkers.
“It’s been nearly 30 years,’’ Black said. “That is a great sports town that is very loyal to its teams.’’
As a 28-year-old left-hander he started on opening day and 32 other games for the ‘85 Royals, following up his 17-12 season with a 10-15 mark.
Bret Saberhagen was at the top of the rotation, one of four pitchers, including Black, throwing 200 innings.
Saberhagen was the Cy Young Award winner — Dan Quisenberry, a force as the closer.
In ‘85 the Royals were the first team to trail 0-2 and win the World Series. Before that they rallied from a 1-3 deficit for the AL title against the Blue Jays.
That squad oozed with camaraderie and there’s no doubt something special happens whenever KC-85 gets together.
“Anybody will tell you whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, when you win a world championship that bond that is created, that forms, it never leaves,’’ Black said.
“If you’re a pretty close-knit group as it is, that bond is even stronger. To this day, when we see each other, it’s like time has never passed.’’
Black said clocks stop when ex-teammate George Brett enters any room, the team’s leader then and now.
“His presence is like a Joe Montana or a Wayne Gretzky,’’ Black said of the Brett, a Hall of Famer.
Brett remained with the Royals as Black’s playing career took him to Cleveland, Toronto, San Francisco and back to Cleveland, ending there in 1995.
As a skipper, Black recently got word he’ll return for his ninth season with the Padres.
Black longs for the day when the Padres concoct the winning recipe of the current Royals: solid pitching, good defense, situational hitting and savvy base running.
It’s not only how K.C. does it on the field, but off it as well.
“The Royals have done a nice job out of the draft,’’ Black said, before rattling off numerous core players. “A lot of their guys are homegrown.
“They don’t have a really high-priced player, although they did spend a little money on (James) Shields, a frontline pitcher. But their situation is not unlike ours as far having the younger players produce and theirs have done that. In a division that has star power, the Royals’ model is something that is very similar to what we can do.”
Fresh Padres general manager A.J. Preller is bent on getting there.
A busy offseason includes rebuilding an offensively deprived roster that negates strong pitching and defense.
Preller has one decision behind him in bringing back Black — a good move.
If Preller’s keen, maybe the future gets so bright Black reaches for those shades, circa 1985.
Black is all in on that. The mustache? Not so much.
Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.