The lineup cards are framed and mounted on the far side of Ned Yost’s office, covering much of the available wall space above a dark leather couch. There are five of them in all, celebrating each milestone victory — 500, 600, 700, 800, 900 — memories that mark the time here in Kansas City.
Yost has never been much for milestones or personal achievements — he’s not wired that way, he says — but as each milestone came and went, the Royals’ staff put together another commemorative frame and hung it on the wall. The first one, the frame celebrating 500 wins, came in 2010, during Yost’s first season as Royals manager. In the years that followed, as Yost evolved from punch line to stalwart to franchise icon, the frames kept going up.
The Royals broke a 29-year playoff drought. They won a World Series. They suffered through an uneven encore in 2016. And through it all, Yost kept managing games, kept adding to the total, kept putting up new frames in his office. And yet, if he was being honest, there was really only one personal number that intrigued him.
“The only two goals I ever set,” Yost says, “was win a World Series as a manager and get 1,000 wins. I just thought that would be a special number. It just meant you had some longevity.”
The victory finally came on a pleasant Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. After five straight losses, the Royals edged the Chicago White Sox 3-2, offering Yost his milestone as the defending world champions play out the final weeks of September. In the moments after the game, Yost received a Gatorade bath from Salvador Perez. His team waited for him in the clubhouse. He celebrated by heading home and going to sleep, preparing for a day game on Sunday.
The highlight: It was also his 39th wedding anniversary with his wife, Deborah.
Yost, who became the Royals’ all-time winningest manager last season, improved to 1000-1044 in his career, which includes parts of six seasons in Milwaukee and parts of seven in Kansas City. He became the seventh active manager to reach 1,000 wins, trailing Bruce Bochy (1,781), Dusty Baker (1,759), Mike Scioscia (1,479), Buck Showalter (1,421), Terry Francona (1,372) and Clint Hurdle (1,038). Of that group, only Bochy, Scioscia and Francona have also won a World Series as a manager.
“If I’m good at this job,” Yost remembers thinking, “I’ll be around long enough to get 1,000 wins. So it was always a goal.”
One day later, Yost sat inside his office on Sunday morning and reflected on the accomplishment. He has never been one for nostalgia. All these years later, Yost says he can’t recall his first major-league at-bat or his first managerial victory. The former came against the Boston Red Sox in 1980, while the latter came on April 8, 2003, when the Milwaukee Brewers snapped an 0-6 start with a win at Pittsburgh.
The Brewers’ winning pitcher? Former Royal Glendon Rusch.
“I can’t remember,” Yost says.
So it goes. In February, Yost signed a contract extension to remain as the Royals’ manager through the 2018 season, which means he will likely keep adding to his career totals for at least two more seasons. But sitting in his office on Sunday, he did recall one particular victory: His first with the Royals.
It came on May 14, 2010. The White Sox were at Kauffman Stadium. He still remembers his first mistake.
“The only thing I remember about that game was (Mark) Buehrle was pitching against us,” Yost says, “and I didn’t have Willie Bloomquist in the lineup. And I looked at the freaking matchups after I put the lineup up. I said: ‘What an idiot.’ Willie was like 14 for 17 off him.”