For a while there, the Kansas City Royals appeared to have hit the jackpot.
No, not in baseball. The Royals haven't won the World Series since 1985, and their won-loss record has topped the .500 mark just once in the past 18 seasons. But the Royals are winners this week, by coincidence, because of the nationwide Powerball lottery jackpot, worth $587.5 million. One of the two winning tickets was bought at a gas station in Dearborn, Mo., a tiny town about a 45-minute drive north of Kauffman Stadium. Reportedly, the winning man's name is Mark Hill, 52.
And the winning numbers also happen to be the same ones worn by some of the greatest players in team history: George Brett (5), Mark Gubicza (23), Bo Jackson (16), Dennis Leonard (22), Dan Quisenberry (29) and Willie Wilson (6) as the Powerball number. Of those guys, only Bo isn't in the team's Hall of Fame.
"I hope it's because they liked us six the most in Kansas City history," Gubicza told NBC News.
Hill's wife says it's just a coincidence.
Cindy Hill, the winner's wife, confirms that the Powerball ticket was not chosen using former Royals players. "Random," she said.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 30, 2012
But if the Hills had picked the numbers with the Royals in mind, that means they would have bypassed Frank White (20) and Bret Saberhagen (31), who were — going by the numbers — better players than anyone in the group except for Brett. (Sorry, Goob!) That's the kind of detail that made the picks seem to be a coincidence in the first place.
Besides, who picks a lottery ticket of Royals numbers and omits White and Saberhagen? Not to menton Hal McRae (11). What kind of Royals fan would this person be? Oh, yeah. One who isn't roughly $293 million richer. And heck, that's not even enough money to rescue the Royals from the moribund ownership of David Glass. Three-hundred mil just doesn't go as far as it used to.
So much for the biggest feel-good moment for the Royals in 20 years, when Brett got his 3,000th career hit. The Royals almost mattered again! Even if it was only for some of their numbers.