Franchise royalty: Yost becomes KC's all-time winningest manager

BY foxsports • June 19, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The champagne returned to the Royals' home clubhouse Thursday night.

There was not a playoff berth to celebrate, nor a pennant to rejoice. Instead, the toast was for one man who secured his place in the Kansas City record books with a 3-2 win over Milwaukee. Ned Yost had just become the all-time winningest manager in Royals history with his 411th victory with Kansas City.

General manager Dayton Moore and the front office greeted Yost in the clubhouse. Players approached Yost to shake his hand. On the field, Yost scurried from a water cooler bath delivered by Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar. In the clubhouse, he ducked from more flying beverages.

A week after passing Dick Howser for second place, Yost climbed one more spot Thursday, passing Whitey Herzog. He deflected praise and instead cast it over the entire organization: the amateur scouts and the player development staff and the major league coaches and the general manager and the owner.

"I don't feel like I'm in the same class as Whitey Herzog and Dick Howser," Yost said.

When he was handed the reins to the Royals on May 13, 2010, Yost inherited a team wallowing in the cellar. Last season, Kansas City won the American League championship. He credits Moore for sticking with him through the tough times, when firing the manager could have been the easy way out.

Before, Yost guessed Moore had five chances to release him. On Thursday, he estimated two or three.

"Never thought about it," Moore said.

So even through the 12-game losing streak in April 2012 ("I mean, it was horrible," Yost said) and the 70-win seasons, Yost stayed around. His enthusiasm and energy, positivity and optimism drew Moore to him. Those same qualities buoyed Yost through the perpetual losing and repeatedly caused Moore to ooze faith in his skipper.

After Trey Hillman was let go in 2010, Yost stepped in from the front office. He was charged with changing the culture, the team and the results. It was a franchise 25 years removed from the playoffs and reeling after another managerial change.

"Ned was a breath of fresh air for us because it was a period in the organization where, personally, I was starting to, I would say, my emotions were at an all-time low," Moore said.

Moore saw Yost's time as an assistant in Atlanta and the manager in Milwaukee as similar situations that Kansas City was in. The Royals were waiting on prospects to blossom and the success to bloom. The vision was what mattered. Patience mattered. The results soon would, too.

Yost and Moore weathered a pair of seasons 20 games below .500. The losing caused Yost to lose sleep, the agony of defeat twice as devastating as the thrill of victory is uplifting. Then he'd peek to the horizon for brighter days.

"If you have vision and you understand what's ahead of you and you think you have a pretty good idea of what's coming down the road, it makes it easier to continue to stay focused on that goal," Yost said.

But the Yost that Moore hired doesn't man the first-base dugout at Kauffman Stadium anymore.

Instead, a more relaxed and trusting leader resides three steps down. Since 2010, he learned to listen to his coaches more. He aimed to unleash a loose and lively, energetic and fun clubhouse instead of a stifled one. Yost had discovered what worked and what did not.

"I think there were times in the past where I'd try to make them more like me," Yost said. "I was always an aggressive guy. That doesn't work. You got to allow them to be themselves."

So when Yost changed policies on music and preparation, according to Jeremy Guthrie, the difference was noticeable: "It's enough that it's made a big impact."

Eric Hosmer recalled the first time he met Yost. He was a fresh-faced youngster meeting a veteran major league manager. It was intimidating. But then Yost cracked a joke. Hosmer relaxed. He could be himself, and the game followed.

"To think now that he's passed an all-time winning manager," Hosmer said, "just everything has gone by really fast."

You can follow Matthew DeFranks on Twitter at @MDeFranks or email him at matthew.defranks@gmail.com.


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