Appier elected to Royals Hall of Fame

Appier elected to Royals Hall of Fame

Appier elected to Royals Hall of Fame
DETROIT -- Kevin Appier, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher who loved the strikeout, was named to the Royals Hall of Fame on Thursday.

Appier will be inducted as the 24th member of the Hall on Saturday, June 25, prior to the Royals' game against the Chicago Cubs at Kauffman Stadium.

"It's a huge honor. I feel privileged to be part of Royals history," Appier said. "They gave me my start in baseball, so to be inducted into their Hall of Fame is tremendous."

In the balloting by living Royals Hall of Fame members, select media and front-office staff and fans in an online vote, Appier received 82.5 percent of the vote in his first year of eligiblity. To be elected, a candidate must receive 75 percent. Next in the voting were John Wathan, 35 percent; Al Cowens, 15; Bo Jackson, 12.5; and Al Fitzmorris, Darrell Porter and Kevin Seitzer with 10 percent each.

Appier played for the Royals in 13 of his 16 big league seasons, and was their Pitcher of the Year three times. A first-round Draft choice in 1987, he was with them from 1989 to '99, and again from 2003-04. Between those stints, he was with the Oakland A's, New York Mets and Anaheim Angels.

He still holds the Royals' record for most career strikeouts, with 1,458. His won-lost record for the Royals was 115-92, with an ERA of 3.49. Included in his 32 complete games for Kansas City were 10 shutouts.

In 1993, he posted a career-best 18-8 record and led the American League with a 2.56 ERA in 34 starts. He also established a club record with 33 consecutive scoreless innings, and was third in the American League Cy Young Award vote. On July 27, he pitched his second career one-hitter but lost, 1-0, to Texas on Rafael Palmeiro's home run.

"That was a bummer," Appier said. "But I remember the one-hitter in Detroit. That was a huge game, not only because it was a one-hitter, but that was when I was getting kind of a footing for myself in the league. That helped with confidence and all that kind of thing."

That one-hitter came in 1990 -- Lou Whitaker's leadoff single was the lone hit -- and Appier was named The Sporting News Rookie Pitcher of the Year after he compiled a 12-8 record.

But '93 was his top year for the Royals.

"I always liked that year, and '92 was right there next to it," Appier said, referring to his 15-8 season with an even lower 2.46 ERA.

With free agency looming in his future, the Royals on July 31, 1999, traded him to the Oakland for three pitchers. With the A's, he reached the 2000 playoffs and then signed with the Mets. After one season, 2001, the Mets traded him to the Angels for Mo Vaughn.

"I was in the playoffs with the A's, and in the run right to the end with the Mets and the very next year in the World Series with the Angels," Appier said. "It was quite busy after I left, and it would have been better to do that with the Royals, but I'm still very grateful that I was able to have those experiences with the other teams, too."

Appier spent his early years with the Royals playing with George Brett, Frank White and Willie Wilson, among others.

"That was awesome," he said. "The core personnel of what I guess you could call the Royals' golden years," he said.

White recalled Appier as a pitcher with an uneven, powerful motion that made coaches worry about whether his arm would last.

"From a competitive standpoint, they didn't come any tougher than Ape," White said. "The only thing about when he pitched, though, was he threw a lot of pitches, because he didn't want the guys to touch the ball at all."

The Royals never reached the postseason in Appier's years.

"When I got there, in the early years we were a better club and, unfortunately, when I left there were some tough times. But I have fond memories. In the early years when we were competitive, it was a lot of fun," he said.

From Lancaster, Calif., Appier liked the Kansas City area so much that he purchased a farm near Paola, Kan., where he still lives with wife Laurie. They've occasionally raised unusual livestock, including camels.

Dropped by the Angels midway through the 2003 season, Appier re-signed with the Royals and attempted a comeback both in 2003 and 2004, but made just six starts total. When he failed to make the Royals roster out of Spring Training in 2005, he sat out that year. And after a 2006 Minor League trial with Seattle, he hasn't returned to pro baseball.

"No, no one wanted me and my mechanics around, I guess," Appier said, laughing. "I've helped out a little bit at Paola High School and that's about it. Mostly just doing farm stuff."

He hasn't been back to Kauffman Stadium since it was remodeled. The Royals Hall of Fame voters, however, have invited him to make a special return.

"I know I'll be there in June," Appier said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.