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Moving to National League may not please a lot of Kansas City fans

October 15, 1997

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ If the Royals are the only major league team to switch leagues, it may turn out to be the most unpopular move in Kansas City since the Athletics left for Oakland.

Kansas City has been an American League town since the late Arnold Johnson brought in the Athletics in 1955. The Athletics departed after the 1967 season, and the Royals began play as an expansion team in 1969.

``I hate the idea of going to the National League,″ said Linda Hokenson, a season ticker holder from suburban Raytown. ``Our pitchers are already bad. Now we’re going to ask them to bat, too?″

``The American League is our heritage,″ said Joe Fisher of Prairie Village, Kan., also a suburb. ``I’ve had season tickets since we became a major-league city in 1955. I really think we should stay if we can work it out.″

Owners and officials, speaking on the condition they not be identified, said owners are set to vote Wednesday on a plan that will give the Royals the option to go to the National League Central or stay in the AL Central. If the Royals decline to switch league, the Milwaukee Brewers would move from the AL Central to the NL Central.

Owners said the Royals have until about the end of the month to decide.

``I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1969,″ said Ray Robinson of Lee’s Summit. ``I just can’t imagine being in the National League. This is an American League city. This town still hasn’t recovered baseball interest it lost after the strike in 1994 and I don’t think that would help at all.″

The decision will be up to the seven-member board of directors that has controlled the Royals since the death in 1993 of founder Ewing Kauffman. A bidding process is expected to start soon with at least two investment groups, including one headed by former Royals star George Brett, showing interest.

The board may be warmer to the idea of National League membership than many fans.

``There has certainly been some sentiment (on the board) to move to the National League,″ board member Joe McGuff said. ``But it hasn’t been this clear cut because there have been so many different proposals for realignment.″

McGuff declined to speculate on what the board might do.

``If there is more realignment to come, then that creates a more difficult decision. I’d have to know a little more than I know,″ he said.

``If indeed there will be no more realignment, and we either stay in the AL Central or go to the NL Central, then is it worthwhile to break with tradition to be in a division with the (St. Louis) Cardinals and bring the National League to Kansas City? I would say that’s something we’d have to decide.″

Like many fans, Marvin Mendenhall of Liberty hasn’t been attending as many games as he did before the strike.

``I would wonder if there was something going on if we were the only ones who switch leagues,″ Mendenhall said. ``You would have to wonder what was going on. What we need is hometown ownership.″

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