Dennis Leonard

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Dennis Patrick Leonard

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Biographical Information[edit]

In a sad bit of irony, Dennis Leonard played his entire career healthy for the Kansas City Royals with the exception of the 1985 season, when he was limited to only two appearances. That was the season the Royals won the World Series.

Leonard was a real workhorse from 1975 to 1981, pitching over 200 innings each season and leading the American League in the strike-shortened 1981 season. He led the league in games started for three years, in 1978, 1980 and 1981. Those were the most dominant years in Royals history, as they won division titles in 1976, 1977 and 1978, reached the World Series in 1980, and made the expanded postseason in 1981. Leonard was the staff ace all those years and started 9 postseason games with a record of 3-5 over the period. In the 1980 World series, he lost Game 1 to the Philadelphia Phillies and rookie Bob Walk, 7-6, then came back to win Game 4, 5-3, with the help of Dan Quisenberry. He would have started Game 7, but the Royals were defeated in six games.

All that heavy labor may explain why he suddenly lost effectiveness in 1982, when his ERA jumped over 5.00. He missed some turns on the mound for the first time that year, saw his 1983 season cut short after 10 starts, then missed all of 1984 and most of 1985. He made a valiant comeback effort in 1986, starting 30 games at age 35, with a record of 8-13, 4.44. He was just a shadow of his former self, and with the Royals stocked full of young pitching talent, he retired.

Dennis is first all-time in complete games and shutouts as a Kansas City Royal (as of 2009). He ranks third all-time in innings pitched, strikeouts, games started and pitcher losses and 5th all-time in games pitched for the team. He was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1989.

In 1989, he played for the Fort Myers Sun Sox of the Senior Professional Baseball Association. He went 4-1 with a 4.76 ERA for the club.

Following the 1980 World Series, Leonard appeared with four of his Royals teammates on Family Feud for one week in 1980. He, John Wathan, Willie Wilson, Paul Splittorff and Dan Quisenberry played against five members of the Philadelphia Phillies: Del Unser, Larry Bowa, Mike Schmidt, Dick Ruthven and Garry Maddox.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL Wins Leader (1977)
  • AL Innings Pitched Leader (1981)
  • AL Shutouts Leader (1979)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 5 (1975-1978 & 1980)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 3 (1977, 1978 & 1980)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 7 (1975-1981)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (1977)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Dennis Leonard (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, February 1990, pp. 75-77. [1]

Related Sites[edit]