Royals are Sykesville native Scott Sharp's team now

He grew up not far from Baltimore, wore No. 8 in Little League to emulate Cal Ripken Jr., and has many fond memories of his days as a die-hard Orioles fan.

But if Scott Sharp makes it to Camden Yards for the American League Championship Series, he won't be wearing a speck of orange or black. Those colors faded long ago for the Sykesville native.

Sharp, 41, is the Kansas City Royals' director of player development, and he's quite happy to be sporting royal blue these days as his team prepares to face the Orioles in the ALCS.

"Born and bred in Baltimore, and was always a Baltimore fan," Sharp said. "But at this point, I've poured a lot of time and energy and sweat into the Royals. I'm a fan of the players on the field here. More than just an employee, I have a lot at stake with them. I'm a huge fan of the Royals now."

Sharp graduated from Liberty in 1990, played college baseball at George Washington and played in the minor leagues after being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds. He peaked in High-A ball, then worked as a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers before joining Kansas City.

Sharp took over as the club's director of player development after the 2012 season after serving as director of minor league operations since 2008. Several of Kansas City's young stars ascended through the system during that stretch, and he has the sound of a proud papa when bringing up their names: Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Yordano Ventura.

Not to mention a handful of other guys who shine on defense and flash their speed on the base paths to manufacture runs and typify an older style of play.

"They've kind of been thrust onto the national stage now, and I'm glad for them that they're being recognized as good players," Sharp said. "But there has been a lot poured into them over the last eight or nine years. And we've known about them for eight, nine years, six, seven years since they've been in the system. We've just known as a group. It doesn't happen overnight.

"People who weren't as close may think, 'Oh, well, the Royals kind of came out of nowhere.' Well, this has been eight years of hard work to get to this point. Organizations have to build from within. It doesn't take two years to turn something around."

The Royals took notice of Sharp's skills in nurturing some of the club's young talent and promoted him to director of player development in November 2012.

Sharp said before the Royals hosted the Oakland Athletics in the AL Wild-Card Game on Sept. 30 that the only playoff game he had seen in person was in 1983, when the Orioles faced the Chicago White Sox in the ALCS. The Orioles won the World Series that year. Kansas City did it two years later.

Neither team has made it to the World Series since. The Royals are in the postseason for the first time since that 1985 championship run.

"It's really difficult to win the World Series," Sharp said. "It's very difficult to get there; it's very difficult to win it. Teams that win it more than once in a short period of time, there's a lot of luck involved, along with being a good team."

Sharp lives in Lee's Summit, Mo., with his wife and two sons, but other members of his family remain closely tied to Baltimore. Sharp said his mother attended Game 1 of the Orioles' division series against the Detroit Tigers, and she has plans to be at Camden Yards to see her favorite team take on the Royals.

Of course, she'll be rooting for her son's ballclub as well.

"She follows both teams pretty closely," said Sharp, adding that his mom might cut her Orioles and Royals T-shirts in half and sew them together to wear during the series.

Sharp has plans this weekend to be in Arizona to watch Kansas City's instructional league players, so he'll miss the first two games of the ALCS. But if the series makes it back to Baltimore, expect Sharp to make the trip home.

"I don't want anything misinterpreted. There is no question that I want the Royals to win this," Sharp said. "And I feel for Baltimore. I know it's been since '83. It's only been since '85 for us. At least one of the two teams will be going to get another shot at a World Series.

"But, without question, I'm hopeful that the Royals can pull it out here. And, hopefully, in a quick fashion — although I wouldn't mind seeing a game at Camden Yards, and maybe see us celebrating on the field there."

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