Dennis Leonard

This article was written by Gregory H. Wolf


Dennis Leonard

Name the winningest right-hander of the mid-1970s to early ’80s and most might guess Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Nolan Ryan, or Phil Niekro, but they’d be wrong. Over a seven-year stretch, from 1975 through the strike-shortened 1981 season, the Kansas City Royals’ Dennis Leonard led all right-handers with 120 victories, a figure that only southpaw Steve Carlton (129) surpassed.

A durable workhorse, Leonard was the only big-league hurler to surpass 200 innings pitched in each of those seven seasons, won at least 20 games three times, and helped lead the club to the postseason five times. His greatest accomplishment, however, might be one that doesn’t show up in the box score: his grit and determination. In May 1983 he suffered a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, a potentially career-ending injury. Four operations, numerous setbacks, and an agonizing rehabilitation process followed, but Leonard made an astonishing comeback almost three years later and pitched the entire 1986 season before retiring.

Dennis Patrick Leonard was born on May 18, 1951, in Brooklyn, but grew up on Long Island, one of three sons of William and Catherine (Kawara) Leonard. His parents, both born in New York City, married in 1938 and were involved in law enforcement, his father as a longtime NYC police officer (1942-1965) and his mother as a crossing guard for the Nassau County police department. A Baby Boomer growing up in the 1960s, Dennis dabbled in all sports, but began to concentrate on baseball when he fell under the tutelage of Oceanside High School coach Andrew Scerbo, who suggested that he concentrate on one position: pitching. The husky 6-foot-1 right-hander flashed a mean heater, but when he graduated in 1969, it seemed as though his baseball career might be over.

On Scerbo’s suggestion, Leonard enrolled at Iona College, a small Catholic institution located 20 miles north of Manhattan in New Rochelle, and earned a spot on the baseball team as a walk-on.1 Skipper Gene Roberti’s Gaels squad won a school record 17 straight games in his sophomore year, but Leonard came down with arm problems in 1971 that scared off any potential scouts. An examination revealed no bone chips; however, a physician suggested that he stop pitching.2 Leonard rejected that advice and kept hurling. That summer he raised his stock with an excellent performance in the competitive Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, helping the Brooklyn-Queens Dodgers to the league title.3

Leonard’s junior year at Iona was life-changing. On December 17, 1971, he married Audrey Pahopin, his high-school sweetheart. Awarded a baseball scholarship, Leonard tossed a no-hitter and beat CCNY, 7-1, on April 18, fanning 19.4 Kansas City Royals scout Al Diez tracked his progress in May, as did Tom Ferrick, and both highly recommended the hurler to Royals director of scouting Lou Gorman, who initially seemed apprehensive.5 Despite his misgivings, Gorman selected Leonard in the second round (Jamie Quirk was their top pick), with the 42nd overall pick in the June amateur draft. Leonard received a reported $16,000 signing bonus.6

Leonard’s professional career started off with a bang. After four starts in Kingsport (Tennessee) of the Rookie-level Appalachian League, Leonard was assigned to the Class-A Midwest League, where he tossed a seven-inning no-hitter and belted a home run in his first start for Waterloo (Iowa) in the second game of a doubleheader against Quincy on July 15.7

A full season in Class A in 1973 raised Leonard’s stock to the best pitching prospect in the Royals’ organization. He went 15-9 with a 2.58 ERA while fanning more than a batter an inning (212 in 206) for the San Jose Bees and was selected to the California League and the Class-A All-Star team.8 On April 26 he tossed his third no-hitter in two seasons, walking the first Visalia batter he faced, then retiring 27 consecutive, and even belted a home run.9

On a fast track to the big leagues, Leonard had no down time. After hurling for San Jose in the Puerto Rican winter league in 1973-74, he was invited to the Royals camp that spring. An expansion team in 1969, skipper Jack McKeon’s club was coming off a surprise second-place finish in the AL West (88-74) despite a weak staff that finished 10th among the 12 AL teams in ERA. The inexperienced Leonard was not yet the answer to the team’s hurling woes. He was bumped up two levels to Omaha in the Triple-A American Association, where he earned all-star honors (12-13, 18 complete games, 223 innings) despite playing for the circuit’s worst team.

A September call-up to the Royals, Leonard joined a team in a dramatic free-fall, loser of 26 of its last 35 games of the season, and he himself was out of gas. “Jack [McKeon] knew I was tired because I had pitched a lot of innings,” said Leonard about his struggles. “I didn’t feel tired, but I was dropping down from three-quarters to almost side-arm.”10 After tossing two scoreless innings of relief in his big-league debut, on September 4 against the Chicago White Sox at Royals Stadium, it was all downhill. He lost four consecutive starts, yielding 41 baserunners and 13 earned runs in 20 innings.

Leonard was the last pitcher cut in spring 1975, but it was just a matter of time before the 24-year-old found a permanent home on the Royals’ staff. That came sooner than expected when 39-year-old reliever Lindy McDaniel landed on the DL with prostate problems and struggling, former 20-game winner Paul Splittorff was shunted to the bullpen in early May.11 In his fourth appearance of the season, Leonard picked up his maiden victory, tossing a complete-game five-hitter to beat the Boston Red Sox, 5-2, at Fenway Park on May 16. Essentially a fastball/curveball hurler at this time, Leonard was far from impressive. By the end of June, he was 3-4 with a 4.26 ERA, leading to a widespread belief in the organization that he had been rushed to the majors.

And then he suddenly turned around his season, indeed his career. From July 4 through the rest of the season, Leonard went 12-3, including seven straight winning decisions, and challenged 25-year-old established star Steve Busby as the ace of the staff. That stretch was punctuated by three consecutive starts to end August when he defeated some of the biggest names in the sport: the Red Sox’ Luis Tiant (18-14), the Baltimore Orioles’ Jim Palmer (23-11), and the New York Yankees’ Catfish Hunter (23-14), and was named the AL Player of the Week for the last week of the month.

The Royals finished with a franchise-record 91 wins, but were 7 games behind the Oakland A’s; however, a radical sea change in the AL West was on the horizon as the advent of free agency would alter the baseball landscape and end the A’s five-year grip on the divisional crown. Leonard (15-7) was runner-up to the Cleveland Indians’ Dennis Eckersley as The Sporting News AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year, while the Kansas City chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America named him the Royals pitcher of the year, an award he eventually won three times.

The Royals spring training in 1976 was filled with “soaring optimism,” gushed beat reporter Joe McGuff.12 Skipper Whitey Herzog, who had taken over from McKeon the previous season and led the club to the best record in baseball (41-25) over the last 66 games, had a young club with limitless potential. The Royals assumed the top spot in the AL West on May 18 and never relinquished it, while Leonard got off to a hot start unlike the previous season. On June 4 he went 10 innings for the third time in his last eight starts, tossing a 10-inning complete game to beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-3, on Hal McRae’s game-winning double. “He threw 121 pitches, but not too many for him,” quipped Herzog.13 An old-school workhorse, Leonard had tossed 177 pitches in 10⅔ innings five days earlier despite a sore back from a cross-country flight to California, and all he had to show for it was a no-decision. In his last start before the All-Star break, Leonard threw a four-hit shutout to beat Mark Fidrych, the Detroit Tigers’ entertaining rookie hurler, who had captured the nation’s attention with his mound antics, in front of more than 51,000 screaming fans in the Motor City.

Leonard credited his consistency and success to pitching coach Galen Cisco, with whom he had worked tirelessly since spring training to improve his mechanics and delivery. “[Cisco] told me I was dipping down too much and anything I was throwing was flattening out,” said the hurler.14 Leonard’s fifth straight win, on August 14, his eighth in nine decisions, pushed his record to 15-4. It appeared as though he’d win 20 and the Royals, holding a 12-game cushion in first place on August 6, would cruise to the AL West crown; neither panned out in that manner. Leonard collapsed, going 2-6 with an ERA approaching 5.00 for the remainder of the season. The Royals lost 25 of their last 40 games, including nine of their last 11, but became the first expansion team to win a division title, holding off the A’s by 2½ games. The Royals met the Yankees, playing in their first postseason since 1964, in a classic ALCS. In Game Two, Leonard was staked to a 2-0 first-inning lead, but was pummeled for six hits and three runs and failed to make it through three frames. Splittorff, who had made just one start since the end of July because of an injured finger, tossed 5⅔ scoreless innings of relief as the Royals came back to win, 7-3, and tie the series, one game each. Starting the deciding Game Five in New York, Leonard did not record an out, yielding three straight hits, and was charged with two runs. George Brett’s dramatic three-run home run in the eighth tied the game, 6-6, yielding to heartache in the next inning when Chris Chambliss parked Mark Littell’s first pitch in the grandstand to give the Yankees the pennant.

Leonard was rewarded with a new five-year, $1 million contract, but his struggles in spring training in 1977 bled into the regular season. A loss on June 20 dropped his record to 4-8 while the Royals’ prolonged funk also continued, falling below .500 (31-32), raising tensions in the clubhouse. Leonard’s “unexpected ineffectiveness” led to widespread charges of complacency15 and baffled Herzog, who quipped “[He] has good stuff inside, but not outside.”16 Leonard was struggling with his curveball, mechanics, and delivery, but kept working with Cisco. On June 24 Leonard tossed his second three-hit shutout in his last four starts, beating the A’s, 3-0, and fanning 11. Around this time, Leonard unveiled a new pitch. “When he started throwing the slider, it was turning point in the season for him,” said Herzog. “It gave him better command of his curveball.”17

Armed with a pitch that made his heater even that much better, Leonard went on a roll and emerged as the biggest strikeout artist not named Nolan Ryan. He fanned 10 or more six times, and tied the franchise record of 13 twice. “I don’t go much for strikeouts except that I might give it something a little extra with two strikes on the batter,” said Leonard. “I really prefer to throw few pitches. … It saves a lot of wear on the arm.”18 He concluded the season on a 16-4 tear (2.35 ERA) and became the franchise’s third pitcher to win 20 games, joining Busby and Splittorff, by shutting out the Angels on six hits in the last game of the season. Like their star hurler, the Royals made a dramatic turnaround, winning 38 of their last 49 games to post the best record in baseball (102-60) and capture their second division crown.

Leonard tied Palmer and the Minnesota Twins’ Dave Goltz for the AL lead in victories, logged 292⅔ innings and set team records with 21 complete games and 244 strikeouts. Herzog championed his ace for the Cy Young Award, but lamented that he wouldn’t win it because “you just never get any recognition in Kansas City.”19 Favored to win the pennant, the Royals faced their nemesis the Yankees in what proved to be another heartbreaking ALCS. After the teams split the first two games in New York, Leonard spun a four-hit complete-game gem in Game Three, winning 4-2. In Game Five the Royals held a 3-1 lead heading into the eighth inning in Kansas City. After Reggie Jackson’s RBI-single cut the lead to one run, Herzog summoned Leonard to start the ninth, just three outs from the World Series, but the Royals never recorded them. Paul Blair led off with a bloop single and Roy White walked, forcing Leonard out of the game, and the flood gates were open. The Yankees scored three runs, Leonard was charged with the loss, and the Yankees captured another pennant.

The Royals seized their third straight West crown in 1978, but it was far from easy. Struggling to play .500 ball through the first half of the season, the club was carried by its starting quartet [Leonard, Splittorff (19-13), Larry Gura (16-4), and rookie Rich Gale (14-8)], which combined to start 134 games. A streaky hurler, Leonard floundered for two months and bottomed out in May (0-5 and 8.13 ERA), before turning his season around, beginning with a six-hit shutout against the Seattle Mariners, 6-0, on June 1 to put the team into a tie for first place, at least temporarily. “If I warm up and my fastball is going good, really moving, my confidence shoots sky-high,” declared Leonard. “If not, I think, ‘God, I have to start to get tricky, fool them with the other stuff.’”20

Leonard didn’t need to fool anybody. In July, he strung together five straight complete-game victories, the last of which was an exclamation point 5-2 win over the Yankees on July 24 to give the Royals their 10th straight win and a three-game cushion in the standings. Just hours before that game, a teary-eyed Billy Martin was forced to resign as Yankees skipper for his slur about Reggie Jackson and club owner George Steinbrenner (“They deserve each other. One’s a born liar and the other’s convicted”).21 The Royals, however, couldn’t pull away from the pesky Angels, and briefly fell out of the top spot in late August before a September charge.

On September 25 Leonard beat the Mariners, 7-2, for his 20th victory and 20th complete game to give the Royals at least a tie for the crown, which they eventually won by five games. Leonard (21-17) led the AL in starts for first of three times in the next four seasons, and logged a career-best 294⅔ innings, but was also a tough-luck loser. In 12 of his setbacks, the Royals scored just 17 total runs.

For the third straight season, the Royals faced the Yankees in the ALCS. Under Martin’s replacement, Bob Lemon, they emerged as the hottest team in baseball and beat the Red Sox in a dramatic one-game tiebreaker to capture the East crown. The Royals were in their best possible shape: Game One was scheduled for Royals Stadium, where starter Leonard was a staggering 16-5. The Yankees had used their ace Ron Guidry (25-3) the day before and countered with rookie Jim Beattie (6-9). In a crushing defeat, the Royals managed just two hits and lost, 7-1. Leonard was clubbed for nine hits and three runs in four innings, after which Herzog commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him hit so hard.”22 In Game Four, Leonard went the distance, yielding just four hits, but two of them were solo home runs by Roy White and Graig Nettles, while Guidry stymied Royals bats for a 2-1 win and gave the Yankees a third straight berth in the fall classic.

The Royals slipped to second place (85-77) in 1979, doomed by a pitching staff that sank to 10th (out of 14 AL teams) in team ERA (4.45) after finishing second, first, and third in the previous three seasons. For the first time in his big-league career, Leonard was hobbled by an injury, severe tendinitis in his right elbow, and was sidelined for a month in late May and June. After winning just one game in each of May, June, and July, he finally hit his stride on August 25 with a four-hit shutout to beat the Red Sox, 1-0, in Kansas City and pull the Royals to within 3½ games of the lead. Leonard tossed three more shutouts in his next seven starts, but the Royals played just .500 ball in September and finished three games behind the Angels, who captured their first division crown.

Wildly popular in Kansas City, Leonard came across like an average Joe to whom fans could relate, a sentiment that grew exponentially during his comeback. Blessed with down-home personality, Leonard didn’t necessarily cut the impression of a big-league pitcher. Standing 6-feet-1 and weighing 190 pounds, he had bushy blond hair and a trademark handlebar mustache, kept a can of Skoal in the back pocket of his baseball pants, and enjoyed a few beers after a game. He was known for signing autographs for kids, joking with the press and teammates, and maintaining an even-keeled personality even after tough losses and postseason meltdowns.

The Royals got a scare in the offseason when Leonard was involved in a boating accident on Christmas Eve, cut three tendons in his hand and required 25 stitches.23 Fortunately for him and the Royals, it was his left hand and the gritty 29-year-old hurler was ready for 1981 spring training and new manager Jim Frey.

Off to a plodding start, the Royals moved into first place on May 23 when Leonard threw seven innings of mediocre ball, yielding five runs, keeping the burly New Yorker’s ERA well above 6.00. In early June Leonard tossed consecutive two- and three-hit shutouts on the road in Texas and Cleveland to emerge as one of the league’s hottest pitchers over the last four months of the season. “When I was struggling,” said Leonard, “I was trying to strike too many people out instead of keeping the ball down, moving in and out, and just having them hit the ball.”24

In August he won all five of his decisions and by the end of the month the Royals held an insurmountable 20-game lead. Constantly evolving and working on his mechanics, Leonard attributed his turnaround to his comfort and control of a new pitch: a changeup. “I don’t know if I am a different type of pitcher, I’m basically a fastball pitcher,” he said, “but getting the changeup over certainly helps.”25 It also helped that the Royals had the game’s best closer, Dan Quisenberry. Leonard was still a workhorse, logging 280⅓ innings in a league-high 38 starts, but completed just nine games, as the submariner Quis paced the league in appearances and saves (tied with Goose Gossage). On September 17 Leonard blanked the Angels on three hits in the first game of a doubleheader at home to clinch the West crown.

A 20-game winner for the third time in four seasons, Leonard exorcised his demons in Game Two of the ALCS against the Yankees, hurling seven-hit ball over eight innings and fanning eight in a 3-2 win, which Quisenberry secured. “This is the best I’ve pitched in the postseason,” gushed Leonard, who profited from an excellent throw by left fielder Willie Wilson to nail Willie Randolph at home with what would have been a game-tying run in the eighth inning. “I threw as hard as I could, especially my curve, and I feel that the breaks turned our way.”26

After sweeping the Yankees, the Royals were favorites against the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. Leonard’s postseason miseries returned in Game One, when he failed to make it through the fourth inning, yielding six runs in a 7-6 loss on October 14. The mood in the KC dugout changed dramatically four days later in Game Four when Leonard hurled three-run ball (two earned) in seven innings, supported by two home runs by Willie Aikens, to win 5-3, and tie the Series, two games each. Aided by a ninth-inning comeback and a command performance by Steve Carlton in the clincher, the Phillies took the next two games to capture their first title in franchise history.

Described by Kansas City sportswriter Mike DeArmond as “one Royal the club could not afford to lose” to either impending free agency or injury, Leonard once again anchored the staff in the strike-shortened 1981 season.27 When play stopped on June 12, the Royals (20-30) were mired in fifth place. In response to the strike, cancellation of approximately one-third of the regular-season games, and lost revenue, the owners split the season into two halves, with the divisional winners of each half meeting in a divisional series. The Royals profited from the inequitable plan and unbalanced schedule by winning the second half by percentage points over the Oakland A’s (.566 to .551) and Leonard was a major reason. Beginning on September 8, shortly after Dick Howser replaced Frey as skipper, Leonard made seven starts in 26 days, going 6-1 with a 1.36 ERA in 59⅔ innings, and tossed two shutouts. He finished the abbreviated season by leading the majors in starts (26) and innings (201⅔), while posting career-low 2.99 ERA to go along with his 13-11 slate.

The first team in big-league history to advance to the playoff with a losing record (50-53), the Royals faced Billy Martin’s upstart A’s in the ALDS, where they were swept in three games.28 Leonard cruised in Game One until a crushing error by third baseman George Brett on what would have been an inning-ending out in the fourth gave the A’s an extra chance. The next batter, Wayne Gross, whacked a three-run home run. The Royals had no answer to Mike Norris who blanked them on four hits, 4-0.

Leonard was sidelined for more than 2½ months in 1982 when a ball off the bat of the Texas Rangers’ Buddy Bell broke two fingers on his right hand on May 21. He returned on August 8, his middle finger still noticeably swollen and misshapen, won four straight decisions that month, but never found his groove, finishing with a 10-6 slate and a 5.10 ERA for the runner-up Royals.

At the age of 32, Leonard began his 10th season with the Royals with questions about his injured digits and rumors that his fastball had lost a few ticks. After victories in three consecutive starts pushed his record to 6-3, Leonard suffered a vicious injury on May 28 at Royals Stadium against the Orioles. “When I came down on my left knee, it sounded like the Velcro strap I’d been wearing for support just ripped loose,” said Leonard about his second pitch to Cal Ripken Jr. with one out on the fourth. “But it was my tendon! My body went left, but I remember feeling like somebody had put me in reverse. I rolled over and over. The pain lasted a minute and a half. It shot up my leg. It hit me in the brain. My kneecap was off to the side, and my leg was straight. I thought I was hit by a line drive. But I remember the umpire yelling, ‘Strike!’ So I knew that just wasn’t right.”29

Leonard had torn the patellar tendon in his left knee. It was a devastating injury, from which few athletes in any sport ever return successfully. He underwent an operation on May 29, the first of an eventual four surgeries during a string of unimaginable setbacks and heartbreaks. It was almost 2½ years before Leonard took the mound in a big-league game again, and almost three years before he made his next start. On September 29 he underwent a second operation to graft tendons that had deteriorated. After a grueling rehabilitation process, he began throwing off the mound in June 1984 and suffered another setback. His surgeon, Dr. Frank R. Noyes, discovered fluid in his knee that affected the grafts, leading to yet another patellar-tendon graft surgery on July 31. A fourth operation took place several months later. Leonard refused to give up, and began the rehabilitation process again with no guarantees that he’d ever be able to pitch again. “There are a lot of people who doubt I’ll be back,” he admitted. “[A]t times I wonder, ‘Is my career over?’ You have those days when physically you’re fine, but mentally you’re down and you wonder, ‘Is this ever going to end?’”30

With the ever-present support and guidance of Royals trainer Mickey Cobb, Leonard defied the odds and began throwing off the mound on July 1, 1985. After a stint in the minors, he made an emotional return to the Royals on September 6, tossing an inning of scoreless relief, yielding a hit in the second game of a doubleheader against the Brewers. He tossed another scoreless frame 12 days later in his only other appearance that season as his teammates held off the Angels to win the West for the second straight year under skipper Dick Howser. Leonard was not on the club’s postseason roster as the Royals defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS and came back from a three-games-to-one deficit against the St. Louis Cardinals and won the World Series.

In the last year of his contract, Leonard returned to the Royals in 1986, determined to battle for a spot in the rotation. “I’m going to spring training like a rookie looking for his first shot in the big leagues,” he said.31 On April 12 Leonard defied expectations by making a start against the Blue Jays in a nationally televised game. “Leonard’s return seemed more like a Hollywood concoction than a regularly scheduled American league game,” gushed sportswriter Joe Gergen.32 The 36-year-old spun a three-hit shutout and didn’t walk a batter. By June 4 he was 6-4 with a 2.22 ERA and was hailed for one of the inspirational comebacks in baseball history. “I wanted to try to prove I could make it back,” said the pitcher. “I owed it to the Royals. They’ve been good to me.”33 The effects of four surgeries eventually took their toll. Leonard went 2-9 with an ERA north of 6.00 thereafter as the Royals suffered their first losing season (79-83) since 1981.

Released by the Royals in the offseason, Leonard decided not to test the free-agent market and announced his retirement in February 1987. As of 2018 he still ranked among the top three in many career statistical categories for the Royals, including wins (144), starts (302), and innings (2,187), and ranked first with 103 complete games and 23 shutouts. His accomplishments on the diamond have resulted in his induction into the Royals Hall of Fame (1989), the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (2003), the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame (2015), and the Oceanside High School Hall of Fame (2003).

A constant in Leonard’s journey through the minors and his tenure with the Royals was his wife, Audrey. Together they had two children, Dennis Jr. and Ryan. During the offseasons, Leonard operated a baseball academy in Florida and the family raised their children in the Kansas City area, where Audrey opened a successful Hallmark store in 1985 (which closed in 2010).34

Leonard remained close to the only big-league club he ever knew. He has served as a longtime guest pitching instructor at spring training and has been an active participant on the Royals caravan and fan festivals. As of 2018 he still resided with Audrey in the Kansas City area.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author accessed the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, Retrosheet.org, Baseball-Reference.com, The Sporting News archive via Paper of Record, and SABR.org.

The author also thanks SABR member Bill Mortell for assistance with the player’s genealogy.

 

Notes

1 Sid Bordman, “‘I Plan to Win 20,’ Says Royals’ Ace Leonard,” The Sporting News, July 31, 1976: 13.

2 Dick Kaegel, “Leonard, with Slider, Cuts Down Yankees, 6-2,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 8, 1977: 5A.

3 Atlantic Coast Baseball League. acbl-online.com.

4 “Iona’s Leonard 0-Hits CCNY, 7-1,” Daily News (New York), April 18, 1972: 103.

5 Lou Gorman, High and Inside: My Life in the Front Offices of Baseball (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2007), 124.

6 Mike McKenzie, “Leonard Wins and Royals Pay,” The Sporting News, April 11, 1981: 11.

7 “No-Hit Effort for Waterloo,” Des Moines Register, July 16, 1972: 36.

8 “Kingston’s Whitefield Tops Class A Stars,” The Sporting News, November 24, 1973: 46.

9 “No-Hitter in State League,” The Times (San Mateo, California), April 27, 1973: 25.

10 Sid Bordman, “Soph Jinx Just a Joke to Royals Ace Leonard,” The Sporting News, August 7, 1976: 3.

11 Associated Press, “Royals Assigned McDaniel to Disabled List,” Daily Capital News (Jefferson City, Missouri), May 3, 1975: 8.

12 Joe McGuff, “Wave of Optimism Is Stirring Up Royals Fans,” The Sporting News, February 7, 1976: 46.

13 Del Black, “McRae Doubles Home Mayberry to Give Royals 4-3 Victory in 10,” Kansas City Times, June 5, 1976: 51.

14 Sid Bordman, “‘I Plan to Win 20,’ Says Royals’ Ace Leonard.”

15 AP, “Trade Aids Royals,” Chillicothe (Missouri) Constitution-Tribune, April 30, 1977: 12.

16 AP, “Relievers Boost K.C to 5-4 Win,” Sedalia (Missouri) Democrat, March 31, 1977: 22.

17 AP, “Leonard’s Slider Helps Stop Royals’ Slide,” Sedalia (Missouri) Democrat, August 19, 1977: 8.

18 John Hickey, “A’s Make Leonard Look Like Ryan,” The Argus (Fremont, California), June 15, 1977: 11.

19 AP, “Leonard ‘Not Worried’ about winning Cy Young Award,” Daily Standard (Sikeston, Missouri), Oct 3, 1977: 5.

20 AP, “Royals Back Atop Heap; Leonard Back in Win Form,” Garden City (Kansas) Telegram, June 2, 1978: 10.

21 AP, “Martin’s Slurring Remarks Prompt Ouster as Manager,” Asbury Park (New Jersey) Press, July 25, 1978: 29.

22 Dick Kaegel, “Champ-Like Yankees Flatten Royals,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 4, 1978: 2D.

23 Sid Bordman, “Left Was Right for Leonard,” The Sporting News, February 2, 1980: 41.

24 Del Black, “Royals’ Leonard Sports Sharp New Style,” The Sporting News, July 5, 1980: 13.

25 Ibid.

26 United Press Internaional, “Royals Win, 3-2; Lead Series, 2-0,” Lincoln (Nebraska) Star, October 10, 1980: 19.

27 Mike DeArmond, “Leonard, K.C. — Big Silence,” The Sporting News, January 31, 1981: 52.

28 The Royals had the fourth best combined record in the West; the Rangers (57-48) and White Sox (54-52) were the big losers of the plan and were shut out of the playoffs. The Yankees (59-48) had the fourth best record in the East; the second-place Orioles (59-46) and Tigers (60-49) were likewise losers in the split-season playoff.

29 Jill Lieber, “A Fight Against Pain and Doubt,” Sports Illustrated, July 29, 1985.

30 Leonard Is Facing 3rd Knee Operation,” The Sporting News, June 25, 1984: 24.

31 Mike Fish, “Squeeze or Swan Song for Leonard,” The Sporting News, January 20, 1986: 47.

32 Joe Gergen, “Leonard’s Is Most Inspiring of Many Comebacks,” The Sporting News, May 5, 1986: 6.

33 Gergen.

34 Jeff Martin, “Audrey’s Hallmark Shop Closes Its Doors After 25 Years,” The Examiner (East Jackson County, Missouri), May 28, 2010. https://examiner.net/article/20100528/NEWS/305289739.

Full Name

Dennis Patrick Leonard

Born

May 18, 1951 at Brooklyn, NY (USA)

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