Did the Kansas City Royals introduce Moscow to baseball?

Mar 30, 2023 | Picture KC

In 1972, the Kansas City Royals were in their third season as a Major League Baseball franchise. Despite their lack of success on the field, they had a player who was making a name for himself: Paul Splittorff. The left-handed pitcher was in his second full season with the team and was becoming a fan favorite.

One day, Splittorff received a mysterious phone call from someone claiming to be a representative of the Soviet Union’s national baseball team. The caller explained that the Soviets were interested in arranging a friendly game between their team and the Kansas City Royals. The game would be played in Moscow and would be used as a way to promote better relations between the two countries.

At first, Splittorff was skeptical. The idea of a Soviet baseball team seemed far-fetched, and he was unsure if it was some kind of prank. However, the caller was persistent, and eventually, Splittorff agreed to meet with him in person.

To his surprise, the caller turned out to be a legitimate representative of the Soviet Union’s sports ministry. He explained that the Soviet Union was serious about promoting better relations with the United States, and that a baseball game could be a meaningful way to do so.

The game was arranged, and in the summer of 1973, the Kansas City Royals traveled to Moscow to play the Soviet Union’s national team. The game was played in front of a crowd of about 5,000 people, many of whom had never seen a baseball game before. The Royals won the game 3-0, but the score wasn’t the most important thing. The game was seen as a positive step towards better relations between the two countries, and it helped to promote a sense of goodwill.

Although the game was just an exhibition, it remains an obscure and fascinating part of the Kansas City Royals’ history. It’s a reminder that sports can be more than just a game, and that they have the power to bring people together and promote understanding between nations.

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