Rita and I will be on the road next week for our fourth annual baseball stadium tour. We start in Minneapolis (Target Field) and then hop on our tour bus for games in Milwaukee (Miller Park), Chicago (Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate Fields) and Cincinnati (Great American Ball Park). Full report in Hot Stove #102.
I had intended to wait until we got back from our trip to do the next Hot Stove, but some June sports results pulled me back in. Two caught my attention because they involved some good neighbors from St. Louis and Kansas. I also want to hype a Broadway show coming to KC. No, not Hamilton (already hyped that in Hot Stove #99). I’m talking about Beautiful, the Carole King musical coming to Starlight Theater.
Let’s start with the June championship games of the “winter” sports of hockey and basketball.
NHL – St. Louis Gets Its EGOT: I’m not an active hockey fan, but I kept my eye on the NHL playoffs because our cross-state team was in the mix. The St. Louis Blues were founded in 1967 and were the oldest NHL team to never win a title. To put this in perspective, the Royals were founded two years later and have won two championships. There was good news. The Blues beat the Boston Bruins in seven games to take the Stanley Cup.
St. Louis got another bonus – they became a city that has won a championship in all four major team sports. With apologies to soccer fans, I am talking about the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. In baseball, the Cardinals (11) are second only to the Yankees (27) in winning the World Series. Hockey was added last week. The other two sports are not even currently played in St. Louis. So we need to go to the archives.
When I was in high school, the NBA team that we saw a lot on regional TV was the St. Louis Hawks. I still remember some of the names: Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan, Slater Martin and Easy Ed Macauley. Their 1957-58 season was capped by winning the NBA title over the Boston Celtics. The Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968.
Football took a strange path. The Rams franchise started playing in Los Angeles in 1946, but shifted their home games to St. Louis in 1995. Led by Kurt Warner, the St. Louis Rams beat the Tennessee Titans to win the Super Bowl in 2000. The team returned to L.A. in 2016.
Why did I say EGOT in the title of this section? An entertainer achieves EGOT status by winning four major awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Like a city winning four major sports. If your mind bends that way.
EGOT Trivia: Fifteen people have earned EGOT status. A sampling: Helen Hayes, Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks and Whoopi Goldberg.
SEGOT Trivia: I could not think of a good acronym for my sports analogy (no vowels in the trophy names), so I’m sticking with EGOT and inserting an “S” to signify sports. Eight cities have achieved SEGOT status: NY, LA, DC, St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. Only one city has been home to winners in all four sports in this century – Boston. A lot of people outside of Boston are not so thrilled about that. Former Senator Claire McCaskill spoke for many in a tweet sent out before Game 5 of the NHL finals.
|Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc)|
|6/9/19, 11:54 AM|
SEGOT Trivia – Kansas City Edition: The Chiefs won the Super Bowl in 1970. The Royals won the World Series in 1985 and 2015. The NBA Kansas City Kings played here from 1972 to 1985 before moving on to Sacramento. The Kansas City Scouts, an NHL expansion team, lasted only two seasons before moving to Denver in 1976 (the team is now the New Jersey Devils). No NBA or NHL titles for Kansas City to date and none on the horizon.
NBA – “O Canada”: Last Wednesday, a team based in St. Louis won the NHL’s Stanley Cup, signifying excellence in a game that is the national sport of Canada. The next night, a team based in Canada won the NBA title, signifying excellence in a game invented in the U.S. The inventor, James Naismith, was a Canadian immigrant.
I began rooting for the Toronto Raptors after “the shot” by Kawhi Leonard to win Game 7 of the second round (worth seeing again, click here). As much as I enjoy watching the Golden State Warriors, I favor teams that have not won a title or have been waiting a long time (examples in baseball: Cleveland Indians – last title in 1948; Texas Rangers – no title yet). But if it’s the Chiefs or Royals, then I’m like a Boston fan, though with fewer opportunities.
Toronto won four games to two, including wins in all three games played in Oracle Arena, the home of the Warriors. This is Toronto’s first NBA title and it is packed with side stories – injuries, surprise performances (like Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet), Leonard as MVP, etc. – but I’ve only got space here for one of them. It’s about the latitude.
A conversation developed on Twitter about the title being won by the NBA’s northernmost team – after all, the Raptors play in Canada. Folks from Minneapolis and Portland quickly responded with an attitude about the latitude. For the record, Toronto’s latitude is 43.65 degrees north. Moving north from there for prior NBA championships: 44.98 – Minneapolis Lakers (several titles before moving to L.A.); 45.52 – Portland Trailblazers, led by Bill Walton in 1977; and 47.61 – Seattle Supersonics in 1979. One of the key players on that Sonics team was Lonnie Shelton (with an “e”). The Sonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and became the Thunder.
PGA – The U.S. Open: There were also some major individual sports results in June. Sir Winston won the Belmont Stakes. Rafael Nadal won the French Open for the 12th time. And Topeka native/KU golfer Gary Woodland won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. In Hot Stove’s efforts to obtain good coverage, two stringers were dispatched to the final round on Sunday – Irv and Sharyn Blond. Full disclosure: they were already in San Francisco visiting family and were completing an event trifecta: Game 4 of the NBA finals, Hamilton and Pebble Beach.
Irv is an avid MU fan who put aside his tribal instincts to root for Woodland who played college golf for KU. That KU connection was highlighted for Rita and me while watching the event on TV. Rita spotted a Jayhawk towel on the caddie’s bag, and so I backed up the TV feed and took this screenshot:
The KC Star had a fun headline: Pebble Chalk, Jayhawk.
MLB – Royals/Twins: The Royals and Minnesota Twins play in the Central Division of the American League. The Twins are running away with the division and the Royals are in last place, 23.5 games behind. So I’m going to change the subject from play on the field to two of their promotions this month.
Last week, on Friday night, the Royals were at Target Field in Minneapolis. It was Prince night, honoring the iconic Minneapolis musician who died in 2016. The fans got some cool jerseys. For the Hot Stove tribute to Prince in 2016, click here.
Royals MLB writer Jeffrey Flanagan tweeted a photo from the game:
This coming weekend, the Royals will again be playing the Twins, this time at Kauffman. On Sunday, the players will wear throwback Negro Leagues uniforms – the St. Paul Gophers and Kansas City Monarchs. Fans are encouraged to be “Dressed to the Nines.”
FIFA – Women’s World Cup: Soccer fans have their eyes trained on Paris as the World Cup is underway. To the chagrin of my friends Richard Martin and Leland Shurin, longtime soccer superfans, I have about the same interest in soccer as I do in hockey. I recognize soccer as the true international sport, but for me, it’s hockey on grass. Lots of back and forth (by admittedly fine athletes) that leads to very few goals. And yes, I know that the U.S. women are excellent and beat Thailand 13-0 to start the tournament. But a touchdown and two field goals in a soccer game is an aberration. And, through no fault of the players, FIFA stinks as the governing organization (as noted by George Vecsey in this post, the “A” stands for Avarice).
So my primary interest in the World Cup is anecdotal. One of the players for New Zealand has the surname of Satchell. Her parents’ choice for a given name was Paige. That’s right, Paige Satchell. I have no idea if her parents are aware of how that resonates with baseball fans in the U.S.
Moving from Paige Satchell to the world of Satchel Paige…
NLBM: On Saturday June 29, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum will host its annual “Hall of Game” event honoring former MLB players who competed with the same passion, determination, skill and flair exhibited by the heroes of the Negro Leagues. This year’s inductees are Eric “The Red” Davis, Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff, Dave “Cobra” Parker and Dave “Smoke” Stewart. Sharon Robinson will receive the award named after her father, the Jackie Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award. Details can be found here.
Last month, the Phillies were in town to play the Royals. Several players joined President Bob Kendrick for a tour of the museum. Andrew McCutchen (photo below) had this to say: “When you learn the history, you have a greater respect for it and just putting on a uniform and stepping on a field means more.” [In some sad news, McCutchen recently tore his ACL and is out for the season.]
Movie Sneak Preview: Thanks to Dan Margolies and Stan Bushman for giving me a heads-up on this. Thursday night, June 20 at 7:00, there will be a sneak preview at the Glenwood Theater of The Spy Behind Home Plate. This is a new documentary about Moe Berg, the major league catcher who played in the majors in the 1920s and 1930s and became a spy for the CIA (then the OSS) in WWII. Moe has made appearances in earlier Hot Stoves. See the trailer here. Rita and I plan to be there.
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Beautiful: In 2014, Rita and I saw Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway. We were with Irv and Sharyn Blond, and we all loved it. It was the original cast with Carole King played by Jessie Mueller who won a Tony for her performance. Rita and I saw it a second time when the touring cast played the Music Hall in Kansas City. If we were not on our stadium tour, we would see it again next week at Starlight.
The musical covers the two major arcs of Carole’s career. First, as the piano-playing composer writing songs with lyricist/husband Gerry Goffin, knocking out hit after hit in the 1960s. A few samples: “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (the Shirelles), “One Fine Day” (the Chiffons), “Up On the Roof” (the Drifters) and “Loco-Motion” (by their baby sitter, Little Eva).
Carole moves on (sans Gerry as husband and lyricist) to a solo career as both a writer and singer. Her success skyrockets with the release of the blockbuster 1971 album Tapestry (“Beautiful,” “I Feel the Earth Move,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “So Far Away,” etc.).
The story and the music are nicely intertwined on stage. Highly recommended. Performances at Starlight Theater June 25-30. Check out this clip from the 2014 Tony Awards.
[Tapestry Trivia: In 2004, Carole campaigned for John Kerry for President by hosting “living room” performances at homes on the campaign trail. Rita and I attended the one in Kansas City. Rita still had the Tapestry album she purchased back in the 70s and took it to the event. Carole signed it and the framed cover hangs in Rita’s office.]
For the playlist on this edition of Lonnie’s Jukebox, I’m going to reach back to some of the original records. Click on the song titles to play.
“Loco-Motion” (Goffin and King) – Little Eva (1962)
“One Fine Day” (Goffin and King) – The Chiffons (1963)
“I Feel the Earth Move” (King) – Carole King (1971)
I’ll finish with a song written by Carole and included on the Tapestry album. It was also recorded by James Taylor who took the single to #1. Rita and I saw them sing it together when they appeared at Sprint Arena during their “Troubadour Reunion Tour” in 2010.
“You’ve Got a Friend” (King) – James Taylor (1971)