The Orioles are in Kansas City, and while there are plenty of current storylines to consider, I can’t help but think of Sam Horn. It happens to me whenever the O’s play at Kaufman Stadium. Horn is one of my favorite former Orioles, and he simply had a way of producing against the Royals.
Horn’s O’s debut came at Kansas City on April 9, 1990. He went 4-for-5 with a pair of three-run home runs, including one into the stadium fountain. His eighth-inning homer erased a 6-3 deficit in a game the O’s ultimately won 7-6 in 10 innings.
Manager Frank Robinson joked afterward, “If he doesn’t drive in five or six runs every game, we’re going to tell him to hit the road.”
Horn’s mammoth debut was not a harbinger of things to come during his three-year tenure in Baltimore; however, it did provide an indication of the damage he would do against the Royals that season and beyond.
Pick an offensive category from 1990 and Horn likely posted his best numbers in it against the Royals - hits, runs, home runs, RBIs. He delivered a .429/.500/.893 slash line with each of those three totals representing his top marks versus any team that season. He had four of his 14 home runs and 11 of his 45 RBI against the Royals. His 25 total bases were 11 better than his next-highest total against an opponent in 1990.
Horn’s career numbers in eight big league seasons in Baltimore and beyond followed a similar pattern. His eight home runs against Kansas City were the most against of any of the 14 teams he took deep. He also had his most career hits, doubles, RBIs and total bases against the Royals. That’s not to say every day against Kansas City was a good one. His six strikeouts versus the Royals on July 17, 1991 are an Orioles record for most strikeouts in an extra-inning game.
“Three strikeouts is a hat trick, four is a sombrero, five is a golden sombrero, and six is now called a Horn,” Mike Flanagan said afterward. “Seven would have been a Horn a Plenty. When you make history, you’ve got to put your name on it.”
That bad day is overshadowed by many more good ones that I remember fondly, and so, too, does Horn.
“Baltimore was a nice time in my life and I wouldn’t change a thing, especially that game in KC,” Horn said. “I know that on one special day, in one special year, I was the best player in baseball.”
Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. Follow him on Twitter: @RoarFrom34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.