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Can SungWoo Save The Royals From Sports Illustrated Cover Curse?

Greg Echlin

You may have heard that the Royals are doing really well. They are 15 games over .500, and are first in the AL Central. They're doing so well they made the cover of this weeks' regional Sports Illustrated

"September is coming, and for the first time in nearly 30 years it will matter in Kansas City," the headline reads. That hasn't happened since the last time the team made the playoffs: 1985, when the Royals went on to win the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

But for Royals fans, the cover brings more than a recognition of this summer's triumphs. 

“It’s the curse!” says longtime Royals fan Kathleen Kunkler. “Can anyone remember what happened to Clint Hurdle?”

Hurdle, now the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was selected by the Royals as the ninth pick in the first round of the 1975 draft. In 1978, Sports Illustrated put him on the cover with the headline “This Year’s Phenom.” 

After publication things went downhill for Hurdle; he never became a phenom. And Hurdle isn't the only one. The list of alleged Sports Illustrated curse victims is incredibly long.

Perhaps what the Royals have is luck. Many say Royals fan and overnight media sensation SungWoo Lee  brought luck with him from South Korea earlier this month when he arrived in Kansas City to watch the Royals at Kauffman Stadium for the first time.

SungWoo Lee isn't the first good luck charm for the Royals. Many will remember Billy Butler's barbecue sauce, which supposedly helped the Royals break an 11-game losing streak last year.

Butler's sauce didn't turn out to be the magic ticket for the Royals in 2013, but fans are still holding out for SungWoo Lee. He has returned home, but maybe the luck will keep coming. The Royals could even find themselves on a second Sports Illustrated cover this year.

A California native, Briana comes to KCUR by way of KMUW in Wichita, Kan. and KUSP in Santa Cruz, Calif.
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