Royals’ Ned Yost thankful for 10-year ride as manager

Royals manager Ned Yost could’ve been content if he waited until the season ended before he announced his retirement. In some ways, he might’ve preferred that ending as opposed to making the announcement heading into the final homestand of the season.

On Wednesday, Yost shared the reason he didn’t simply walk away at season’s end. It was because he wanted to say thank you to Royals fans. Even though he’s uncomfortable with the spotlight on him, as opposed to being on the team and the organization, he relented for that reason.

“That’s what’s really important to me,” Yost explained. “I want them to know how special I think they are, and how much I appreciated them over the years. Through the good times, through the hard times.”

Prior to Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins and following a ceremony recognizing the organization’s minor-league players of the year, the Royals honored Yost. The scheduled first pitch was pushed back to 7:30 p.m. in order to accommodate the on-field ceremony.

With the entire team, members of the front office, coaching staff, video, training and clubhouse staffs all on the field, Yost, his wife Deborah, children Ned IV, Josh, Andrew and Jenny, and grandchildren Jordan, Everly and Amber Lin, all wearing Royals jerseys with the No. 3 on the back — which was also spray painted in the dirt circle surrounding home plate — walked out onto the field.

Royals television and radio broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre served as MC for the event, which included a video tribute featuring memorable moments, plays and celebrations from Yost’s tenure as manager, including the American League championship in 2014 and the World Series championship in 2015, as well as the championship parade following the World Series victory.

Longtime friend and comedian and television star Jeff Foxworthy and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid taped video messages congratulating Yost on his retirement which appeared on the videoboard. Foxworthy wore a Royals championship hoodie in his video, while Reid wore a Royals baseball cap.

Royals general Dayton Moore presented Deborah a diamond necklace with the number 3 on it.

Royals outfielder Alex Gordon and pitcher Danny Duffy stood on opposite sides of three framed collages on the infield that they presented to Yost on behalf of the team.

One collage included the baseball cards of every coach Yost had on staff while with the Royals. The other two featured baseball cards of all the players during Yost’s tenure with the Royals.

“You brought an American League and a World Series championship to this city,” Gordon said. “You changed this organization since Day 1 when you got here as manager. We want to wish you nothing but the best in your retirement. … We’re going to miss you so much every day on the field. We just want to thank you and wish you nothing but the best. Thank you. We love you.”

Moore presented Yost with a crystal to recognize him as the all-time winningest manager in franchise history. The last gift was driven out of the Royals bullpen by catcher Salvador Perez, a 2019 Polaris Ranger backcountry edition.

The ceremony concluded with Yost being handed the microphone.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my 10 years here, and I’ve got a world of memories from them 10 years, but what makes them special is you,” Yost said gesturing toward the crowd. “We went together through so much. We’ve gone through hard times. We’ve gone through great times. And I’ll never forget when we had a parade downtown with 850,000 of my best friends.”

Yost wrapped up the ceremony by thanking everyone in the organization, including owner David Glass, and put the exclamation on the ceremony by saying, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love you guys.”

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.