Hot Stove #100 – One Hundred Hot Stoves, Lonnie’s Jukebox and Van Horn 1959

Three big numbers for me this month.

100th Hot Stove.

60th anniversary of high school graduation.

38th wedding anniversary – 19 years in the 20th century and 19 years in the 21st century.

As for Rita, she (i) is my wife of 38 years, (ii) is the Hot Stove editor, and (iii) was not in my high school class – for the record, she is eight years younger. Below, from 2005, the photo used for the invite of the “When I’m 64” party that Rita threw for me. Those in the know would have recognized Rita by the hat. She wears them well. [Photo credit to our friend and ace photographer Alison Barnes Martin.]

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Hot Stove History: In October of 2015, I started sending emails to friends as the Royals postseason successfully played out. I enjoyed the responses that came in and decided to continue the process. The inaugural Hot Stove was posted on November 30, 2015. Thanks to Tim Sear for sending me this image of the beginning:

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I originally thought Hot Stove would be monthly and maybe only sent out during the off-season. Sort of an internet version of the Hot Stove league of fans gathering around a hot stove during the winter to discuss baseball. But it got out of hand and reached 100 posts in 43 months. Sometimes I just can’t resist sending out the next one.

So as it turned out…more posts than planned…each post longer than planned…and more content on movies, rock ‘n’ roll and Hamilton than planned.

Message to Hot Stove Subscribers: Hot Stove has been a wonderful way for me to keep up with friends, old and new. There is also a ripple effect with subscribers adding friends and relatives to the mailing list. It is not lost on me that the evolution of the posts (and the futility of the Royals) may no longer fit what you are looking for in your inbox. If so, just reply and say “unsubscribe.” Whatever you do, don’t blame the editor – Rita does her best to rein me in when I’m too “deep into the weeds.”

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Message to Hot Stove Non-Subscribers: As I have done with some posts, this one is going to a larger audience than the current subscribers. If there are any baseball nerds out there who want to subscribe, just reply to this email and say you want to be added to the mailing list. To get a flavor of what to expect, the Hot Stove archives are at  http://lonniesjukebox.com/tag/hot-stove/.

The Website – Lonnie’s Jukebox: My son Brian originally set up the website to store the archives of Hot Stove. Maybe the grandchildren (9 of them) and great-grandchildren (4 so far) will want to read them someday. Or not.

It’s also turned out to be a good place to post other musings from over the years. So travel, politics and other selections are constantly being added to “Lonnie’s Jukebox.” It is a work in progress.

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Some of the categories that are “tagged” by subject:

Politics: From 1968 to 1994, I was fairly active in local and some national politics. Rita was also very involved for many years. Much of that activity was chronicled in a three-part series about our dear friend, super-politico Ken Hill. That series and other political posts are at http://lonniesjukebox.com/tag/politics/.

Travelogues: Politics led to a love of travel. I worked as a part-time advance man for Vice President Walter Mondale. In 1978, I was pleasantly surprised to get an international assignment – Bangkok. I took the opportunity to continue around the world after Bangkok – stopping to see the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids and much more. I sent a post card from Tel Aviv to my not-yet-wife Rita that she had to join me someday in an around-the-world trip. We did that and more – over a hundred countries during our 38 years. Three travelogues have been posted so far. http://lonniesjukebox.com/tag/travelogues/.

Telluride Film Festival: Rita and I have been attending this Labor Day weekend event since 2011. Recent reports and the follow-up Oscar news are at http://lonniesjukebox.com/tag/telluride-film-festival/.

 

MLK: Since 2002, I have posted an annual message for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For the last four years, these have combined with a Hot Stove post. The link is http://lonniesjukebox.com/tag/mlk/.

Topps 1958: Hot Stove reader Carl DiMaria (a photographer and image guru) sent me this “Superfan” card he designed in the style of a 1958 Topps baseball card. Some of my counterpart 1958 cards (the real ones) include Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle. Sorry, but I cannot sign any cards for my fans – mine is digital only.

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Royals Nostalgia: Some names from the Royals past.

Bill Buckner: In 1988 and 1989, Bill Buckner played for the Royals. But those years and the rest of his 22-year career are overshadowed by one play in 1986 when Buckner was with the Red Sox. Playing first base in Game 6 of the World Series, he allowed Mookie Wilson’s slow grounder to trickle between his legs, giving the Mets the win and the momentum to also win Game 7 and the Series. Buckner died last month and the news was full of stories, almost all of them leading with the story of that error. I recommend this post from George Vecsey, especially the link to his original 1986 article  – a grand history of the “feeling of doom” by fans of the Red Sox going back to when Babe Ruth was traded to the Yankees.

In 2011, Buckner’s error was the basis of a classic episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It is hilarious if you like Larry David’s style of humor (I do). Here are the clips (a total of about 11 minutes, but you will laugh a lot). Remember, it is HBO, so you should not play these at high volume at the office. Definitely profane.

1. Larry’s Buckner-style error. Click here.

2. Larry goes to a baseball card show to get a Mookie Wilson autograph as a gift for his manager Jeff Greene. Buckner is also at the show, but has a much shorter line than Mookie. Click here.

3. Larry and Buckner leave together for lunch. Buckner is remembered by people on the street. Click here.

4. Larry and Buckner get sidetracked when Larry is recruited to complete a Jewish minyan (need 10 people). Click here.

5. Larry and Buckner go to Jeff’s place to deliver the ball signed by Mookie. Their initial discussion lists the teams that Buckner played for – the Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox, Angels…but leaving out the Royals. What happens to Mookie’s ball has to be seen on the video. Click here.

6. The finale. Buckner is called upon to make a special catch. Click here.

7. Later interview on how Larry got Buckner to do the show. Click here.

 

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Bobby Witt: Witt was not a Royals pitcher, but he was on the mound against them on June 23, 1994. For the first five innings, no Royal reached first base. In the sixth, Greg Gagne laid down a bunt and first baseman Troy Neel threw to Witt covering first. Gagne was ruled safe on a close play, but TV replays showed he was out. This was years before a manager could challenge a call and get a replay. No other Royal reached base in the game, and so Bobby Witt missed a perfect game because of an umpire’s mistake. In the modern era, there have only been 21 perfect games, starting with Cy Young in 1904. The most recent was Felix Hernandez in 2012.

[Perfect Trivia: The Royals starting pitcher in Witt’s almost-perfect game was David Cone who went on the win the Cy Young Award that year. Five years later, in a Yankees uniform, Cone threw a perfect game.]

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Witt played 16 seasons in the majors after being selected by Texas as the 3rd overall pick in the 1985 draft.

And yes, he is the father of Bobby Witt Jr. who was just selected by the Royals as the 2nd overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Jarrod Dyson:  When Jarrod Dyson was drafted by the Royals in the 50th round in 2006, he was the 1,475th overall pick. He will always be remembered by Royals fans for coining the phrase “that’s what speed do” – a skill he often used as a valuable role player in the team’s 2015 championship year. Dyson has played in parts of 10 seasons in the majors, and at age 34, he is currently with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Dyson is the last 50th round pick to play in the majors. The draft was reduced to 40 rounds in 2012.

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Royals Future: Bill James, the prime originator of sabermetrics in baseball, lives in Lawrence, Kansas. He is an advisor to the Red Sox and came over to Kauffman Stadium last week to see the Sox play the Royals. I liked his tweet (and hope he is right).

https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/978206644/Bill_James_normal.jpg Bill James Online (@billjamesonline)
6/5/19, 12:30 AM

Saw the Royals game tonight. I know that the W-L record doesn’t reflect it, but they’ve made tremendous, tremendous strides in the last year. Looking forward, not backward, this team is VASTLY better than one year ago. Many players on the team now who have bright futures.

At the K: Have you noticed the new stat on the main scoreboard this year at the K? MVR. I believe this stat was on an auxiliary scoreboard last year, but now it gets equal billing with runs, hits, errors and left-on-base.

 

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Still curious about what it means? I admit that I was not yet acclimated to this initialization of a new term in the baseball vernacular. So I Googled it the first time I noticed it at a game. Mound visits remaining. In a time saving move made in 2018, each team is limited to six mound visits per game, not counting the ones when a pitcher is removed.

Big Slick and My Granddaughter: My son Brian has been a member of the Big Slick committee since the inception of the event in 2010. This year’s edition was held this past weekend and was another huge success in raising money for Children’s Mercy Hospital – check out some highlights here.

Brian’s daughter Emersyn, now 17, has attended Big Slick every year and has some great photos with celebrities. Here is one she got this year with a first-time Big Slick participant – Patrick Mahomes.

 

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60th High School Class Reunion – Maybe Not: In 2009, the Van Horn class of 1959 had a well-attended 50th reunion. The 55th came and went without much notice. Same may be true for number 60.

But I keep in touch with many of my classmates who are Hot Stove subscribers. And last month, Rita and I headed to Scottsdale for what turned out to be a mini-reunion. We vacationed with Kansas City expatriates Larry and Diana Brewer who long ago moved to Arizona. For dinner one night, we were joined by Shirley and Gary Nuss and Phil and Jan Clemens who drove up from Tucson. Five of the eight at dinner were VH ’59 grads and are pictured below (me, Shirley, Diana, Jan and Phil).

 

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Lonnie’s Jukebox – The Original: The original Lonnie’s Jukebox, my high school memoir/playlist, can be found at this link: http://lonniesjukebox.com/lonnies-jukebox/. The story is told through fifty records from my 45-rpm vinyl collection that I still have. By a lucky coincidence, our high school years matched up with the founding years of a new music genre called rock ‘n’ roll.

My eighth grade year was at Northeast Junior (1954-55). I shared several classes with Diana Sullivan (now Brewer) and Shirley Maycock (now Nuss). Both are in the photo above, so the friendships have now covered some 65 years. Early in that 8th grade year, Shirley was kind enough to accept my date request for the fall formal dance at Teen Town. It was my first date. Fast forward 51 years. Rita and I were touring Italy in 2005 and crossed paths with Shirley and her husband Gary in Venice. We got together for a couple of dinners, and Gary took a photo that I proudly caption “My First and Last Dates.” Not many people have such a photo.

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Now let’s go to the music (click on the song titles to listen).

During that eighth grade year, we were starting to hear those new sounds, including two that became rock ‘n’ roll classics: the fast beat of “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets and the doo-wop of “Earth Angel” by the Penguins.

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The next year, we moved to the brand new Van Horn High School. Below, some selected tunes from our four years there.

Freshman: Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and the Platters came into our world, but the one who screamed out to make sure we were listening was Little Richard with “Tutti Frutti.”

Sophomore: The Diamonds, the Coasters, the Everly Brothers and lots of Elvis…but the favorite for dancing at Teen Town was “Party Doll” by Buddy Knox.

Junior: A golden year for Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke and Jerry Lee Lewis, but I’ll go with two obscure vintage rock ‘n’ rollers, Eddie Cochran with “Summertime Blues” and Bobby Day with “Little Bitty Pretty One.”

Senior: A lot of great ballads are on the playlist, but I’ll speed up the beat with two records that were just right for the dance craze of the year, the West Coast. “So Fine” by the Fiestas and “Kansas City” by Wilbert Harrison.

If you have Spotify, you can listen to all 50 songs on the original Lonnie’s Jukebox at this link.

 

Happy 60th to all of my classmates.