After an 85-77 second place finish in 1979, Herzog left to eventually become the GM and manager of the cross highway St Louis Cardinals. The Royals, under new manager Jim Frey, won another AL West title and finally beat the Yankees in the ALCS to get to their first World Series. After sweeeping the heavily favored Yankees (who were managed at the time by Dick Howser), they lost a highly contested WS to the Philadelphia Phillies in 6 games. Frey somehow got the Royals to the postseason in 1981, in spite of a 50-53 record. The MLB players strike split the season into two, with the Royals losing rather easily in the first ever ALDS to the Oakland Athletics.
Howser took over the team in 1982, and despite 90 wins, the Royals missed out to the California Angels in the AL West. At the same time, former manager Herzog led the Cardinals to their first World Series since 1967. After 1983 brought them their first losing season since 1974 (at 79-83), they won the AL West with just 84 wins in 1984, bowing easily to the eventual WS Champion Detroit Tigers in the ALCS. Winning what would be their last AL West title (with no division titles since moving to the AL Central) in 1985, they won a thrilling seven game series against Bobby Cox and the Toronto Blue Jays. Of course, they finally got their ring, outlasting the Cardinals in seven games in one of the most controversial World Series the game has ever seen.
Since then, the Royals have not been back to the postseason. After the World Series Championship in 1985, the Royals continued to have success despite falling short of gaining postseason berths. From 1986-1994, six of those nine seasons they won more games than they lost. But since 1995, they have had just one winning season (2003 under Tony Pena) in those 18 years. Because of that, many have forgotten how good those Royals teams were from 1976-1985. Before the expanded postseason team with three divisions and wild cards, it was a huge accomplishment to make the postseason 7 out of 10 seasons. Yes, one was because of a split season and resulted in the Royals making the playoffs with a losing record, but the Royals have not gotten much credit for being one of the better MLB teams in the 1970s and 1980s. They should.