On November 30, 2015, the inaugural issue of Hot Stove was posted (Hot Stove #1). Six years ago tomorrow. Time sure flies.
Hot Stove’s precursor was a string of emails sent to friends during the 2015 postseason. Webmaster Brian Shalton has recently added those to the Lonnie’s Jukebox website under the tag “2015 ROYALS POSTSEASON.” The current list of tags:
2015 ROYALS POSTSEASON (1) Family (3) Hamilton (3) Hot Stove (185) Ken Hill (4) Lonnie’s Jukebox (1) MLK (14) Politics (15) Rita’s Cancer Journey (5) Rock And Roll (9) Stadium Tours (4) Telluride Film Festival (7) Tom Eagleton (7) Travelogues (8) Tributes (6)
Baseball in Winter: Baseball action in winter moves off the field to the awards (MVP, etc.), free agent signings and Hall of Fame talk. A big add this year is that the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the owners and players expires on December 1. This will likely mean a lockout of the players by the owners until a new CBA is negotiated. Hopefully, new terms can be agreed upon in time for spring training to start as scheduled.
Hall of Fame Committees: The annual Hall of Fame vote by the baseball writers will be announced on January 25. This is the 10th and final year of eligibility for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling. Among those on the ballot for the first time are Alex Rodriquez and David Ortiz. Alleged steroid use will be a factor in the voting for these players (other than Schilling who has a different issue – a penchant for being a jerk).
Two of the “Era Committees” are also meeting this year, and those results will be announced on the MLB Network this coming Sunday night at 5:00 (just before you watch the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football). I have a couple of favorites on each of these ballots…
Early Baseball Committee: This committee meets every ten years and considers those whose greatest contributions to the game were realized prior to 1950. The ten nominees for induction in 2022 are Bill Dahlen, John Donaldson, Bud Fowler, Vic Harris, Home Run Johnson, Lefty O’Doul, Buck O’Neil, Dick Redding, Allie Reynolds and George Scales.
To the surprise of no Hot Stove reader, my top choice on this ballot is Buck O’Neil. There is no need to explain why, but I will link the tribute to Buck from earlier this year in my annual MLK message (Hot Stove #152).
Buck should do well in the voting, but it’s still tough to get 12 of 16 votes. Each voter can only select four on the ballot, and with 10 candidates, the voters could split and give no one 75%. But I think Buck will make it, and we will avoid revisiting the big letdown we had when he was not selected in 2006 (as poignantly chronicled by Joe Posnanski; click here).
My second choice is John Donaldson who played in Kansas City in the 1910s for the All Nations team that evolved into the Kansas City Monarchs in 1920. Donaldson is credited with suggesting the name “Monarchs” to team owner J. L. Wilkinson. Donaldson played parts of five seasons for the Monarchs from 1920 to 1924, but he spent most of his career barnstorming where he could earn more money because of his celebrity as the “best colored pitcher” in baseball. Satchel Paige would later use the same format during his career.
Since most of Donaldson’s games were not in regular league play, his statistics are not readily available. He played many of his games in the upper-Midwest, and this came to the attention of Minnesota resident Pete Gorton about 20 years ago. Pete began a crusade to document Donaldson’s games and recruited a network of volunteers who have devoted years to scouring newspaper archives for box scores. This “Donaldson Network” has so far found game information in over 700 cities and verified 413 wins and 5,091 strikeouts for Donaldson (check out the impressive website here). Their work has been instrumental in promoting Donaldson’s case for the Hall of Fame.
Above, Graig Kreindler’s color study of John Donaldson in his All Nations uniform. The “Schmelzer’S” on the jersey is the logo of the KC sporting goods company that sponsored the All Nations team. Although the company went out of business during the Great Depression, the name will be familiar to many Hot Stove subscribers. Local attorney Chip Schmelzer is a descendent of the owners of Schmelzer’s, and Chip is shown below with some of the products once sold by the company. The Schmelzer’s bat he is holding is a Ty Cobb model. This past month, Chip and his wife Suzi and their son Jonathon donated the family Schmelzer’s sports collection to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. A big Hot Stove thank you to them for doing this. For more on Donaldson and Schmelzer’s, see Hot Stove #49.
Golden Days Committee: This committee meets every five years to consider those whose greatest contributions were realized from 1950 to 1969. The nominees are Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Roger Maris, Minnie Minoso, Danny Murtaugh, Billy Pierce and Maury Wills.
My first choice on this ballot is Minnie Minoso. After playing for the New York Cubans in the Negro Leagues from 1947 to 1949, Minnie was signed by Indians owner Bill Veeck and played in the minors in 1950. He was traded to the White Sox in 1951 and finished second in rookie-of-the-year balloting. That was the summer I turned 10 , and I was deep into baseball fandom. Maybe it was his catchy name, but he was one of the first major leaguers I noticed.
He was an all-star the next three years (1952-1954). In 1955, I got to see him play. This was the first year for the A’s in KC, and I went to many games that season. Most of these run together in my memory after 66 years, but two games still stand out: (i) April 12, Opening Day, the first American League game in Kansas City history; and (ii) April 23, the day the A’s lost to the Chicago White Sox 29-6.
I was at the 29-6 game with my dad and will always remember the score. I don’t remember the date, but all you have to do is Google “Athletics 29-6” and it pops up. Which then leads me to the box score in Baseball Reference. Minnie’s stats for that day: 7 plate appearances, 4 hits (HR, 2B), 1 walk, 5 runs and 5 RBIs. Based on my small sample size, Minnie Minoso belongs in the Hall of Fame. Based on an overall career, I hope that the Golden Days Committee agrees. Below, his 1955 Bowman card.
My second choice on the ballot is Dick Allen. He was one of the most feared hitters in baseball and put up Hall of Fame numbers. But his unpopularity with the press led to low vote totals on HOF ballots. Once the baton was passed from the writers to the Golden Era Committee, he fared better, but still missed by one vote in 2015. He was on the ballot again in 2020, but that vote on December 6 was postponed to this year because of the pandemic. Allen died on December 7. Please see my tribute to him (and my case for his Hall of Fame status) in Hot Stove #151.
Below, the iconic 1972 Sports Illustrated cover with Allen juggling baseballs and smoking.
Athlete Smoking Trivia: Dick Allen’s smoking photo reminds me of the 1967 Super Bowl half-time shot of Lenny Dawson with a cigarette and a bottle of Fresca
Someone in the Twitter universe recently photoshopped the Dawson pic to substitute Patrick Mahomes in his #15. The really clever change was replacing the Fresca bottle with menu items from Whataburger, the fast-food chain that has entered the KC market at the urging of Mahomes.
2021 World Series – Postscript: Hank Aaron died in January of this year. During each Atlanta home game of the season, the outfield grass was cut to display Aaron’s #44. After the Braves won the World Series, the team lined up above the number and placed the World Series trophy with Hank. Very cool.
The NBA, Charles Barkley and FanDuel: I recently tuned in to see Steph Curry’s Warriors play the Brooklyn Nets. The TNT pregame show featured Charles Barkley who I always enjoy, but what struck me was that a good part of the banter was about what bets to place on the game. I later read that Barkley is an “ambassador and spokesman” for the gambling site FanDuel. Barkley’s network, TNT, has a deal with FanDuel for Barkley to make predictions and “guarantees” about each upcoming game – so the viewers can then go bet online with FanDuel.
As I watched, Barkley and his co-hosts gave opinions about the “Parley of the Night,” a bet that four players would reach certain numbers: Steph Curry (four 3-pointers), Draymond Green (8 rebounds), Kevin Durant (30 points) and James Harden (20 points). If you bet $100 and all four things happened, you would win $516. For the record, Steph and Harden got their numbers, but Green (6 rebounds) and Durant (19 points) did not. $100 gone.
I have seen the gambling talk on MLB and NFL games, so the same format for the NBA was no surprise. But Barkley as the outspoken “ambassador” of gambling gave me pause. Barkley has personally gambled away millions of dollars. In a 2006 ESPN interview, he estimated he had lost $10 million. “It’s a stupid, bad habit. I have a problem. But the problem is when you can’t afford it. I can afford to gamble. I didn’t kill myself when I lost two and a half million dollars. I like to gamble and I’m not going to quit.”
In 2008, Wynn Las Vegas Casino sued Barkley for $400,000 in unpaid gambling markers. After the Wynn suit, Barkley took a two-year break before returning to the tables and adopting a “moderation” philosophy:
“If you do it in moderation it’s all right…I love it. I love the action, I love the juice. But I just learned to do it in moderation. When I go to Vegas now, I try to win a couple hundred-thousand dollars. If I lose a couple hundred-thousand dollars, I quit and still have a good trip.”
An example of his sports betting was the 2016 Super Bowl. He bet $100,000 that Atlanta would beat New England. They did not.
If you are brave enough to take gambling advice from Charles, tune in to the NBA pre-game shows on TNT.
Los Angeles Sports and Cryptocurrency: I still don’t understand cryptocurrency, nor do I have any serious interest in doing so. But the marketing of this industry in the sports world cannot be ignored. This past month, two leading crypto exchanges tied their branding efforts to major names in the Los Angeles market.
FTX, a Bahamas-based crypto exchange, was already known to me because they have paid MLB a substantial sum to have their logo patches on all MLB umpires. FTX has also signed sports stars Tom Brady (NFL) and Steph Curry (NBA). And now they have one of the biggest MLB names. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels has joined FTX as a “global ambassador,” and his compensation will be paid entirely in cryptocurrency and FTX equity.
In the cryptocurrency world, “moon” is a term of art that investors use when they believe the price of a particular coin will skyrocket. FTX has a mascot named “Lou Nar, the Moon Man,” and there is a moon over Ohtani in the FTX ad shown below. To drive the point home, FTX calls Ohtani’s long home runs (425 feet or more) “Moonblasts” in this video ad.
The other big news out of L.A. is that Staples Center is being renamed Crypto.com Arena. Staples opened in 1999, and the name is synonymous with Shaq, Kobe and Laker championships. But that could not stand in the way a 20-year $700 million deal with Singapore-based Crypto.com, a competitor of FTX in the exchange market. There have been some complaints about the change, but Trevor Noah quipped on the Daily Show that the name of a bankrupt office supply business is not that sacred. And his guest suggested that the Staples sign be removed with a big staple remover.
The arena has already earned a nickname among some fans – The Crypt. And reporting on games at the arena will be “Tales From the Crypt.” The one below appears to involve Bitcoins, appropriate for the brand.
A cautionary tale: Cryptocurrency is a high-flying but volatile industry. In 2000, the high-flying Enron Corporation committed $100 million for 30-year naming rights for the Houston Astros stadium. The 30-year deal was reduced to two years when Enron went out of business. That’s how Enron Field became Minute Maid Park.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum – Commemorative (Non-crypto) Coins: In a ceremony held on the Field of Legends at the NLBM on November 10, the designs for three commemorative coins were unveiled. The coins are in honor of the Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial. The U.S. mint will strike the coins in 2022, and sales proceeds will be used to pay the expenses of the coinage, and the balance goes to the NLBM.
In the photo below: Standing left, President Bob Kendrick of the NLBM; seated, left to right, NLBM Board Chair Kevin Battle, KC Federal Reserve President Esther George, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt and Mayor Quinton Lucas; and at the podium, NLBM Board Member Adam Sachs who helped guide the Congressional approval process. Senator Blunt and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver led the bipartisan effort in Congress.
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Bo Diddley, Baseball and the Beatles: During the ALDS, White Sox pitcher Ryan Tepera raised the possibility that the Astros were improperly stealing signs when playing in Minute Maid Park. Houston manager Dusty Baker’s response: “I was listening to Eric Clapton this morning, and he had a song, you know, before you accuse me, you need to look at yourself.”
Dusty is referring to the song “Before You Accuse Me” which Eric Clapton first recorded in 1989 and then again on his Unplugged album in 1991. But the song dates back to 1958 when it was written and first recorded by the great Bo Diddley. Dusty Baker (as a young man of 72) may be too young to remember Bo’s original. But those of us from the Van Horn class of 1959 remember Bo Diddley and his distinctive beat. Rita and I were in Arizona a couple of weeks ago and met up with some of my Van Horn classmates.
Starting at the front on the left side: Shirley Maycock Nuss, Rita, Janet Pavola Clemens and Diana Sullivan Brewer. The right side: Gary Nuss, Lonnie, Phil Clemens and Larry Brewer. Shirley, Janet, Diana, Phil and I were in the Van Horn class of 1959.
In other Bo Diddley sports news, you may recall the “Bo Knows” ads from 1989 and 1990. Nike was advertising its cross-training shoes with the help of multi-sport athlete Bo Jackson. In the ads, Bo not only “knows” baseball and football, but branches out to other sports where he might excel. The ad ends with Jackson trying to play the guitar like Bo Diddley who responds to Jackson by saying “Bo, you don’t know diddley.” Click here for the ad.
In later ads, Jackson’s guitar playing improved. Hence…
“Before You Accuse Me” is a track on a Bo Diddley album that I have owned for 60 years. The title is simply Bo Diddley, and it has 12 tracks, all written by Elias McDaniel (whose stage name was Bo Diddley). The album was released in 1958 when I was a junior in high school, but I did not get my copy until I was a sophomore in college. One of my fraternity brothers was selling off his record collection, and I snapped up this album. It’s been played many times, including this past week (photo below). I love the Bo Diddley beat that has influenced many other artists.
In the photo at the far right is my record bible, Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, based on data from the Billboard charts (1955-2010). I often consult this book when researching for Lonnie’s Jukebox.
Also in the photo is my early Christmas present for Rita, Paul McCartney’s two volume set The Lyrics. Rita was part of Beatlemania in the 1960s and attended Charlie Finley’s Beatles concert at Municipal Stadium in 1964. This past weekend, the two of us immersed ourselves in Peter Jackson’s 3-part series on the “Get Back” sessions (1969) that led to Let It Be, the last album released by the Beatles (1970). Jackson previously directed the Lord of Rings film trilogy that totaled 558 minutes of running time. His Beatles trilogy is almost as long – 468 delightful minutes of eavesdropping on their creative process and songwriting genius. Below, from the sessions, the four Beatles plus Yoko Ono and keyboardist Billy Preston.
Jukebox Selections: Tracks and covers from Bo Diddley’s 1958 album and a couple of tracks from the Let It Be album. Click on the song titles to listen.
“Before You Accuse Me” – Bo Diddley (1958).
“Before You Accuse Me” – Cover by Eric Clapton (1989).
“Bring It To Jerome” – Bo Diddley (on the 1958 album, but first issued as a single in 1955, the year I saw Minnie Minoso play)
“Bring It To Jerome” – Unreleased cover by Paul McCartney (1993). In the “Get Back” sessions, the Beatles often warmed up and did sound checks by playing early rock ‘n’ roll tunes by the likes of Chuck Berry and Eddie Cochran. In his post-Beatles career, one of Paul McCartney’s sound-check regulars was Bo Diddley’s “Bring It To Jerome.”
“Bo Diddley” – Bo Diddley (on the 1958 album, but first issued as a single in 1955 when it went to #1 on the R&B chart).
And for some good fun, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley on stage duck-walking together (click here).
“Let It Be” – The Beatles (1970). The title track for the album.
“Get Back” – The Beatles (released first as a single in 1969 and credited to “THE BEATLES with Billy Preston”). This the only single by the Beatles that credits another artist. The Beatles met Preston in the early 1960s in Hamburg when they opened for Little Richard. Preston was Little Richard’s organist. George Harrison brought in Preston for the “Get Back” sessions to soften some of the tension among the Beatles who were on their way to breaking up. Preston was a popular presence in the sessions and added an acclaimed electric piano riff to the “Get Back” single.
Although the end was near for the Beatles as a band, the film and audio coverage of the “Get Back” sessions showed that they were still professionals and enjoyed making music together. I have loved songs like “Let It Be” and “Get Back” for over five decades, but Peter Jackson’s series adds a new layer of richness to the music. It is highly recommended and only costs a one-month subscription to Disney+. Click here for the trailer. As a bonus with your Disney+, you can watch Hamilton again. Which we did.