Hot Stove #127 – Baseball In the Time of a Lukewarm Stove

This is Day 35 of our self-quarantine and Day 28 of KC’s Stay-At-Home order (now extended to May 15).

The title of this post was suggested by Jim Fitzpatrick. With no games being played, we are in a “lukewarm” world – not a hot stove to sit around in the winter to talk baseball, nor a hot summer day at the ball park for a game.

As for our quarantine routine (hey, that rhymes), Rita spotted this apt meme…

Well, we do more than that. There’s Zoom yoga. Zoom social calls. Reading. TV (The Plot Against America, Unorthodox, Better Call Saul, Ozark, etc.). Walks, sometimes with house calls (or this week, condo calls). Some Hot Stove writing, but…

As reported in the last Hot Stove, I am taking a small break to “write less, read more.” I have been doing that, and so most of what you see below is written by someone else. I’m just the aggregator.

One special quarantine note: In a prior Hot Stove, I commented that isolated living was quickly diminishing our supplies of dishwasher pods and coffee beans. This apparently prompted a Hot Stove reader to leave two tubs of dishwasher pods at the entrance desk in our condo building lobby. No name was left, but we are told that our benefactor was a woman in a red car. So we ask, in rock ‘n’ roll vernacular, “Who Are You”? Click here.


Some Tweets: Scrolling the Twittersphere…

 From Royals Review: A video of former Royals Billy Butler (below) and Mark Teahen playing “Quarantine Catch” and telling a fun George Brett story. Note they are remotely connected through their respective back yards. Click here (2:53).


From Tom Boswell: The Washington Post sportswriter posted a video of the Washington Cathedral organists playing the Nationals’ theme song “Baby Shark.” Boswell: “My wife plays this (loudly) every a.m. at our house as her emotional anti-coronavirus treatment. Hope it works for u.” Click here (1:53). A reminder of how it looked at the World Series last fall – click here (1:06).

 From NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allen Sills: In determining when team sports will resume, a cautionary statement from Dr. Sills…

 From Rustin Dodd: Former KC Star sportswriter now with The Athletic, responding to what VERY SPECIFIC thing he missed most about baseball. “The ambient sound of a baseball game on television that you’re not actually watching.” I get that.

 Jackie Robinson Day: On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson played his first major league game. Last week on that date, all players were set to wear #42 in honor of Robinson. This has become a regular part of each season, but sadly is postponed this year. There was substantial coverage last week of the anniversary, and I liked this photo from spring training in 1953. Two of the most famous uniform numbers in history, Jackie Robinson and Mickey Mantle.

The #42 has been retired for all baseball teams and the number is displayed at Kauffman Stadium with the three Royals having retired numbers: George Brett (5), Dick Howser (10) and Frank White (20). Who is next for the Royals? Ned Yost? Alex Gordon? Salvy Perez? Jeffrey Flanagan of wrote a recent column on this (click here). Flanagan also did a piece on Jackie Robinson’s time with the Kansas City Royals (a California winter league team in 1945). Click here.

For more on Jackie, see Hot Stove #31 (“Martin, Jackie and Roberto”).

Steve Roling and Satchel Paige: The mention of the Royals Baseball Academy in the last Hot Stove brought a response from Joe Dandurand. Back in the 1970s, Joe’s high school coach recommended that Joe apply to the Academy. Joe declined because he had determined that he could not hit a good curveball. I had the same deficiency, but found out earlier and quit competitive baseball at 15. We knew our mutual friend Steve Roling had been a good player in his youth and so asked about his curveball skills.

We learned that Steve could hit a curveball – if thrown slowly. We also learned that he had once gone to bat against a legend. Here is Steve’s story:

“In high school, I had good speed and a good glove and played on the Jefferson City American Legion team…I was not a strong hitter… anything slow, including curves, I could hit some of the time. A wild fastball pitcher was my weakness. My last year playing American Legion ball our team played a roving team of retired MLB/minor league players and their starting pitcher was Satchel Paige. He probably was in his early 60’s and when I saw him warming up, I thought…I can hit this guy. The local ball park in Jeff City (Ernie Vivion Field) was sold out and the excitement and noise in the ball park was something I will always remember. I was the lead-off hitter. Of course, I was star struck to be batting against Satchel Paige but I did my best not to show how nervous I was. I stuck out on three pitches…didn’t even foul off one pitch. When I was walking back to the dugout I looked at Mr. Paige and smiled and he smiled back and tipped his hat to me. What a thrill it was to bat against Satchel Paige!!! That is my only time I faced a former MLB player (and Hall of Famer)…something I will never forget.”

 One Satchel Paige story leads to another. Last week, President Bob Kendrick of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum retweeted a photo of a “snazzy” Satch (Stylin’ and Profilin’). If you have seen Bob Kendrick around town or on Royals broadcasts, you likely know he may be the best-dressed man in KC – right up there with Satch. This shot was part of a photo gallery on Satch in Life Magazine in 1941. The caption: “Paige was tough to beat on the baseball diamond but more prone to defeat at the pool table.”

Joe Porter and His Dad: My former law partner Joe Porter is pure St. Louis and learned early from his father that Stan Musial was the prince of baseball. Joe keeps on his desk a photo of Joe and his dad with Stan Musial at a baseball dinner. His dad and Musial are shaking hands lefty – both were left handers – and Joe’s dad joked about that for years.

Joe’s dad died 20 years ago this month, and Joe’s eulogy included one of his dad’s favorite jokes:

“Once there were two elderly gentlemen sitting in a park watching  a Little League Baseball game and began to wonder if there would be baseball in heaven and how wonderful that would be. So they made a pact that the first one to die would appear to the other to tell them whether there was baseball in heaven.

One died and years passed without an appearance. Finally one summer day he appeared to his old friend who was indignant that it took so long to fulfill their pact. He replied there was good news and bad news. First the good news—there is baseball in heaven and we play every day with our bodies as they were when we were kids! It is the best you could hope for!

The survivor was ecstatic—what could be better and what could possibly be the bad news?

You’re pitching Tuesday.”

 At his dad’s funeral, much to the priest’s chagrin, Joe got the organist to softly play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” as the casket left the church.

Déjà vu. My mother was a passionate baseball fan. When she died in 2006, her priest was resistant to any baseball exit music at the funeral. But as we left the church, mom’s friends and family spontaneously (and loudly) broke out singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

 Hot Stove Gets Emails: Below, an eclectic mix of items received from Hot Stove subscribers.

From Bill Wakefield: This past week, Bill reminisced about a former teammate. In 1973, the year before he was called up to play for the Mets, Bill was playing in the minors for the Atlanta Crackers. He and several teammates stayed in a hotel across the street from Ponce de Leon Park. Outfielder Jim Frey was one of those teammates. Frey never made it to the big leagues as a player, but as Kansas City fans know, Frey was the manager who took the Royals to their first World Series in 1980. Jim Frey died this month at the age of 88. Below, Frey leads the team off the field after an 1980 ALCS victory over the Yankees.


This is a good time to again mention that the website U.L.’s Toothpick is doing a daily rundown of the 1980 pennant-winning season. One of the regular features is the “George Brett watch” to follow George’s MVP season as his average goes from .250 (as of April 20) to above .400 in August and September. Click here.

 From David Matson: David was at Royals spring training and so is ahead of most of us at seeing some baseball this year. He sent an article about the troubles that sports websites are having with no live games. Instead of gaining new subscribers and/or advertisers as the new season gets underway, the trend is the other way. Please don’t cancel any you follow, and if so inclined, add to your subscriptions. Remember, free sports writing is like free legal advice. You get what you pay for. Click here.

From Richard Martin: Richard grew up in Dallas and moved to KC in 1992. He likes his adopted Royals, but he also remains a fan of the Rangers. Richard sent me a recent story about David “Hoss” Hostetler, a rookie who played for Texas in 1982. Hoss went on a home run binge that drove fans wild, rising to the level of “Hoss-steria” when the Rangers played the theme from Bonanza as Hoss came to the plate (“Hoss” also being the nickname of a character in the TV show). This appears to be the first time a walk-up song was ever devoted to a single player. For more on this pioneer of the walk-up music genre, click here. It was Hostetler’s only good season in a brief career. 1983 Topps Baseball Rookie Card #584 Dave Hostetler ...

 [Walk-Up Music Trivia: Not my idea, but I like it. How about walk-up music for each of us as we get admitted to a Zoom meeting?]

 From Steve Jagoda: Steve sent a Royals Review post about the 1963 KC A’s, the team that first wore uniforms of green and “Finley” gold (click here). Once on the website, you will find a ton of other interesting articles – current events, nostalgia and trivia.

From Chris Shanklin: This Cardinals fan was proud that three Cardinals were on a team of the best MVPs by position. There was also one Royal. The best MVP year for a third baseman was George Brett in 1980, the year he hit .390 and was the AL MVP. Coincidentally, the second best at third was also in 1980, Mike Schmidt, the NL MVP. Check out the rest of the lineup by clicking here.

From Steve Fuller: World-wide marathoner/KC lawyer Steve Fuller sent a video on the evolution of stadium design with an emphasis on the shapes of the playing fields. Click here (9:22).

From Mike Zakoura: Looking for TV ideas in isolation? Mike sent an MLB list of 25 of the best baseball movies ever. Click here.

From Bill Lochman: Bill is spending some quarantine time going through old scrapbooks. He came up with this photo of his dad Walt Lochman, the radio broadcaster for the Kansas City Blues in the 1930s and 1940s. The others in the photo are Bob Feller (Cleveland Indians) and Frank Duncan (Kansas City Monarchs). For many years, Feller formed teams of MLB all-stars who barnstormed after the regular season and often played teams made up of players from the Negro Leagues. This photo is likely from 1946 when Feller leased two Flying Tigers to fly the Feller All-Stars and Satchel Paige All-Stars from city to city. Duncan managed the Paige team.

Frank Duncan was a catcher in the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1942, mostly for the Kansas City Monarchs. He managed the Monarchs from 1943 to 1947, during which time at least four Hall of Famers were on the team: Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, Willard Brown and Jackie Robinson (playing his first pro season in 1945). Duncan’s first baseman was Buck O’Neil who succeeded him as manager in 1948.

Duncan was married to blues singer Julia Lee. When Lee was performing in all-white nightclubs, Duncan would sometimes sit with the band, pretending to be a musician, to see her perform. She had a string of R&B hits in the 1940s and was a popular club act in Kansas City until her death in 1958. Lee was an accomplished singer, but may be best known for her trademark double entendre songs – the “dirty blues,” or as she said, “the songs my mother taught me not to sing.” One of her fans was President Harry Truman who invited her to perform at the White House Press Association dinner in 1949. She sat beside Truman at the piano and taught him some boogie-woogie. Check out some of her songs here.

Julia Lee - Kansas City's First Lady of the Blues - Music

 From Jan Hodgson: Jan gave me a heads-up that there is a baseball story in a recent episode of John Krasinski’s SGN (Some Good News). This is a new web series that is “a news show dedicated entirely to good news.” The whole episode is enjoyable, but I’ll tell you that the baseball feature starts at the nine minute mark (click here). Krasinski arranged for five nurses from a Boston hospital’s COVID unit to take the field at Fenway Park. You will be smiling and tearing up when you watch. Same goes for the episode of the show when Krasinski and his wife Emily Blunt surprised a young girl who missed seeing Hamilton because theaters have closed. In a Zoom experience extraordinaire, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the original cast brought Hamilton to the girl. Click here (6:17).

Lin-Manuel Miranda, 'Hamilton' cast surprise 9-year-old fan on ...

Wimbledon and Roof Sports: The bad news: Wimbledon is cancelled for 2020. The good news: (1) the tournament carried pandemic insurance, and (ii) there is still some good tennis being played…up on the roof (click here; 0:26). And for other rooftop sports, click here (0:37). Which of course reminds me of the Gerry Goffin and Carole King song that was a big hit for the Drifters in 1962. Click on “Up On The Roof.”

Lonnie’s Jukebox – Gregorian Chants (Week 4): KC sportswriter Vahe Gregorian continues to tweet his picks for a theme song for each day of the Stay-At-Home order. Click on the song title to listen.

Day 22 (April 14) of Stay-At-Home Order: “The Long Run” by the Eagles.

KFIX Rock News: Eagles, Bon Jovi, Springsteen In Top 5 On Forbes ...

Day 23: “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen. Because “wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face.”

 Day 24: “The Times They Are A-Changin’”by Bob Dylan.

 The times they are a changin essay

Day 25: “To Sir With Love” by Lulu. Vahe chose this “in honor of our teachers past and present. Where would we be without you?”

 Day 26: “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. “Still runnin’ against the wind … Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”

Day 27: “Amazing Grace” by bagpiper John Tootle (live performance in KC).

 Day 28: “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” by Gordon MacRae. From the 1955 film Oklahoma.


Condo Calls: In lieu of house calls this past week, Rita and I made condo calls on Hot Stove readers in Townsend Place.

Jane Overton at a social distance from Rita.

Joe Serviss. Joe just recently moved into Townsend Place, but I have known him since our days in the Young Democrats back in the 1970s.

Dr. Carl Cleveland and wife Elizabeth (I’m pretty sure that she and I are the only Van Horn graduates in the building).

Susan Palmer and Odell Weidner. Realtors at your service.

Sharyn Blond (as in linens) and my law partner Irv Blond.

Rob and Marilyn Rymer are currently in Vail, so we could not make a condo call. But they sent us a selfie while out snow-shoeing on eight inches of powder.

Leland and Jill Shurin live across the hall from us, but they are waiting out the pandemic in Phoenix. So we met up with them via Zoom.

That’s all folks.