by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — The front office of the Kansas City Royals, a team one win away from now playing in the World Series — the franchise’s first since 1985 — consists largely of former George Mason University baseball players.

Royals General Manager and Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Dayton Moore, Asst. General Manager of Player Personnel J.J. Picollo, Director of Scouting Lonnie Goldberg, and regional scout Ken Munoz were all once previously Patriots student-athletes, and at one point, even involved in the Mason program all at once.

Moore, 47, the eldest of the group, started 110 games for the Patriots between 1988 and 1989, which included Mason’s second-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship tournament (which leads to the College World Series) in 1988. Moore batted .254 with a .355 on-base percentage for the Patriots that season.

After graduating with a bachelor’s in Physical Education and Health in ’89, Moore would remain with the program as an assistant coach from 1990-1994. In that time, he’d also earn his Master’s in Athletic Administration.

Picollo, 43, was drafted out of Cherry Hill West High School by the Reds in the 16th round of Major League Baseball’s 1989 June Amateur Draft, but put off his professional career to play at NC State (1990-91), before transferring to Mason to catch for the Patriots from 1992-93.

It was then and there Picollo’s fate would intertwine with Moore, his coach, Goldberg, his second baseman (1990-93), and Munoz, his shortstop (1992-93).

While in Fairfax, Va., the foursome would win two CAA conference titles (1992, 1993), one CAA conference tournament (1992), and make two NCAA tournament appearances (1992, 1993) together.

From there, their careers would splinter off – although only slightly and down similar paths – to eventually lead them all back together in a new city. Kansas City.

Picollo got drafted by the Reds, again, in the 14th round of the 1993 draft, and would play one short season for the Single-A Oneonta Yankees, only to return to Mason as a recruiting coordinator and hitting/catching instructor from 1994-96. Afterwards, he’d move on to George Washington in a similar capacity until 1998.

In 1999, Picollo would get another shot at the big leagues, reuniting with Moore in Atlanta as an area scout — focused on the mid-Atlantic region – for the Braves organization

By then, Moore had already surged through the ranks after joining the club as an area scouting supervisor in 1994, rising all the way to Assistant Director of Player Development when Picollo arrived just prior to the turn of the century.

Goldberg, drafted by the Rangers in the 27th round of the 1993 first-year draft, would come on board in Atlanta as well, starting as an area scout for the 2002 season, after chasing the dream as a minor league journeyman, but never rising above Triple-A, where he concluded his playing career for a Rockies affiliate in 2000, after which he managed the Independent Western League Yuma Bullfrogs for a season.

The three continued their career progressions in that order, Moore topping out in Atlanta as the Braves’ Assistant General Manager, before defecting for Kansas City in 2006, taking over as the Royals General Manager.

He would bring along with him Picollo as his Director of Player Development, and they’d be joined two years later by Goldberg, who would assume the role of Director of Baseball Ops. for the Royals in 2008.

Munoz, who similarly returned to Mason as an assistant coach in 1998-99, joined the Royals as an area scout – focused on the four corners region of the country – thereafter.

The unifying link between the four men?

57-year-old Bill Brown, who, in 2015, will be entering his 34th season as the head coach of George Mason baseball, following a season in 2014 in which the Patriots reached their first tournament appearance in five years after winning the Atlantic 10 tournament in their debut season in the conference.

The Royals were only beginning their magical 2014 season as the Patriots’ was ending, and you better believe the Mason alumni base now firmly rooted in Kansas City were keeping track of their Alma Mater.

“Certainly we follow what the Patriots are doing,” Picollo told 106.7 The Fan’s Bill Rohland over the weekend. “We knew they were having a good year this year, in a new conference, and then when they won the conference tournament we were texting each other and talking about it in our own world. So yea, we’re very proud of what Billy’s done there, and not a lot of coaches have had the opportunity to stay in one spot for as long as he has. He just does a tremendous job, and I’m proud to be a Patriot.”

More on this story in Bill Rohland’s interview with J.J. Picollo below.

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