Even for Terrance Gore, it was a fast-paced 2014 season.
Gore, who is recognized as one of the fastest runners in professional baseball, made it to the big leagues with the Kansas City Royals and appeared in the World Series in 2014 – just one year after he stole 68 bases in 76 attempts for the Lexington Legends in the South Atlantic League.
Gore started the 2014 season with the Wilmington (Del.) Blue Rocks of the advanced-A Carolina League. He played in one game for triple-A Omaha in July, and then returned to Wilmington before being promoted again to Omaha August 5. In 17 games for the Storm Chasers, he had five hits in 20 at bats, but his primary assignment was base running. He entered 10 of those 17 games as a pinch runner.
“I was a little nervous, a little timid, but I definitely overcame that,” Gore said. “It was nerve-wracking for a little while, but fortunately, when I go in, I know what I’m trying to do. I try not to think about it. I just go in and let my God-given talent and ability take over and go from there.”
He stole 11 bases in 14 attempts for Omaha. For Omaha and Wilmington combined, he was 47 for 54 on steals. In his minor league career, he has stolen 168 bases and been caught only 17 times.
That all added up to a call to the big leagues at a time when the Royals were fighting for their first post-season berth since winning the 1985 World Series. Gore made his major league debut August 31 in Kansas City. He entered the game as a pinch runner in the 10th inning, stole a base and scored a run in the Royals 4-3 loss to Cleveland. In 11 regular season games with the Royals, he was a perfect five-for-five on stolen base attempts.
The Royals clinched a playoff spot with a 3-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox September 26. Post-season rosters have to be pared to 25 players (down from a maximum 40 in September), but Gore was confident Manager Ned Yost would have a spot for him.
“Yost told me I was going to stay on there probably through the post-season, World Series and all that,” Gore said. “It was good to know that, but I definitely had to work my game a lot more when he told me that. I worked on more baserunning than anything at that time.”
Yost valued Gore's ability to distract pitchers even if he didn't steal a base.
"The pitchers took focus off of getting the hitter out and were focusing on him," Yost said during the 2014 postseason. "That's what you want. Just having him at first base, with the thought that hey, he may run, and the focus they have to put on him, takes away from the focus on the plate. You start elevating pitches, you start getting pitches to hit. He's a big advantage, having him on this bench."
Gore continued to contribute as the Royals made their run to the American League pennant. He stole three bases in three tries in the postseason, and made an appearance as a pinch runner in game two of the World Series.
Gore reported to spring training with the major league club, but will start the season at Wilmington. He knows his speed took him to the top in 2014, but he’s working hard to earn a return trip to the majors as a more complete player.
“I’m working on hitting,” he said after a round of batting practice (thrown by Hall of Famer George Brett) in spring training. “And I’ve been working on bunting. I’ve got blisters on my hands. I’m just trying to become a better player. I want to be an everyday player.”
He won’t forget stepping on the field as a major league player for the first time.
“I felt like a little kid going to a major league game – felt like a little kid all over again. I want to do it so many more times. It was amazing.”