The 1986 Kansas City Royals woke up on September 1st staring at a 14-game deficit in the standings and a virtual certainty that their 1985 World Series trophy would stand alone for at least another 14 months.

But, though K.C. and their fans faced a long winter ahead to contemplate the team’s worst showing since 1970, the Dog Days at least brought some hope.

Because, a day after rosters expanded, on September 2, Superman Bo Jackson made his major league debut. And, though Bo hit a paltry .207 with two home runs and three stolen bases down the stretch, even watching him strike out on the big stage was a thrill.

There was plenty of that particular type of thrill, too, as Jackson would whiff 34 times in his 25 games with the Royals that month.

And, after somehow avoiding a single K in his very first game, Bo got rolling for real on September 3, when he went down swinging twice and looking once.

But, while the world was watching to see what the phenom would do in that Wednesday night game (his second, that is) against the White Sox at Royals Stadium, most of us missed another story unfolding right there under our noses.

(Of course, we might grant ourselves some grace for the oversight given that “the world was watching” back then consisted of days-later newspaper accounts and late-night highlights … if there were any.)

Because, starting in left field for the Royals that night was a “young” fella named Kevin Seitzer, who, at 24 years and 161 days was actually pretty “old” by prospect standards.

And, especially by comparison to the Bo Show, Seitzer was pretty much an unknown to the average fan, and even to most serious ones outside of Kansas City (maybe even some of those).

That’s just what happened when you were an 11th-round draft pick out of college in 1983 who took nearly four years to work your way through the minors, and who showed scant little power along the way.

Especially if you played corner infield, which, it turned out Seitzer did, that first LF start notwithstanding.

Seitzer hit the majors with a bang, though, picking up singles in each of the last two of five at-bats in that first contest, including a one-out game-winning RBI in the bottom of the tenth inning, driving in Willie Wilson.

It was a storybook beginning, but it was nowhere near an ending, as Seitzer would hit .323 in 28 games to close out the season.

That set up an outrageous development — someone other than George Brett would man third base for the Royals in 1987.

Yeah, it was Seitzer, who seized the opportunity, making 141 starts at the hot corner while again hitting .323. This time, though, he led the American League in both plate appearances (725) and hits (207).

His 15 home runs were nice, but still anathema to both his position and the homer-happy summer of 1987, though his strong hitting landed him in second place in A.L. Rookie of the Year voting behind Mark McGwire.

And, even with the longballs flying all around, Seitzer also had collectors buzzing, but there was a problem … the card manufacturers didn’t know about him, either — apparently.

To wit, despite his stellar performance to wrap up 1986, Seitzer managed just a single from-the-pack rookie card in 1987.

Even then, the best he could wrangle was a duplex on Fleer #652:

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For the record, John Stefero had exhausted his rookie status in 1986, and he was already 27 years old by the time this card debuted.

You can see these gents’ fledgling stats on the card back:

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All in all, it’s quite a testament to Seitzer’s anonymity and non-prospect status that he would 1) garner a single RC and 2) play second fiddle to Stefero.

Seitzer would have the last laugh, though, parlaying his strong start into a 12-year career that featured more than 1500 hits and a .295 lifetime batting average.

Stefero, on the other hand, was done in the majors by the end of 1987. That fall, the Expos let him become a free agent, and he started shopping for his next (minor league) team.

Meanwhile, the rest of the card companies — and Fleer again, too — caught onto the splendors of Seitzer, and the hobby was awash in Royal Blue Traded, Updated, and Rookies cards of the man who had just moved a legend out of position.

Not bad for a non-prospect, huh?

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One player — and card — who came with plenty of hype in 1987 was Will Clark. All these years later, his 1987 Fleer rookie card remains a hobby classic, as we detail in this YouTube video …

1987 Topps #648 Barry Larkin

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1987 Topps #384 - Steve Young

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1987 Topps Mark McGwire Rookie Card RC #366 PSA 9 Athletics MINT

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