Remember the Kansas City A’s? Charlie Finley? Campy Campaneris? Blue Moon Odom? Paul Lindblad? George Wallace? Bull Connor? Bear Bryant? They are in the cast of characters who inhabit my 19th annual message for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I hope you have the opportunity to read this (somewhat long) story as we get ready to celebrate the holiday.
BREAKING NEWS! Today (one hundred years ago), Babe Ruth was sold by the Red Sox to the Yankees. That may be the biggest “hot stove” news in baseball history.
Fifty years ago, as 1969 was winding down, Paul Newman and Robert Redford were in the theaters as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Yes, that was fifty years ago. The Oscar for the best song that year came from the movie (played while Paul Newman showed off his bicycling skills). More on this in Lonnie’s Jukebox at the end of this post.
But first, some baseball news…
Fifty years ago, a tune with some catchy lyrics hit the pop charts. For two weeks in December of 1969, it was the #1 record in the country. It was performed by a group of session musicians who were given the fictional band name Steam.
Eight years later (that would be 1977), the Royals and White Sox were playing at Comiskey Park before a large crowd – the teams were in a tight race for the division title. At an opportune moment in the game, the Comiskey Park organist played that 1969 #1 song by Steam. The enthusiastic crowd joined in with the catchy lyrics. After that festive night at Comiskey, (i) the Royals went on the win the division (and lose, again, to the Yankees in the ALCS), and (ii) the song became (and remains) a staple at sporting events around the country. See Lonnie’s Jukebox at the end of this post for the rest of the story.
Rita and I will soon head to Naples, Florida, for some R&R. Hot Stove will also take some R&R, probably for the rest of November – Hot Stove readers deserve a break.
Warning: When you get to Lonnie’s Jukebox, you will see that it is long. You may want to save it for another day (especially if you are going to listen to the songs).
As we await Game 3 tonight at Nationals Stadium…
Wow. What a start. The underdog Nationals have won the first two games of the World Series. So far, playing in the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park (f/k/a Enron Field) has not worked out for the Astros.
Not a good sign for Houston. The last 18 times a team has won the first two games, it has gone on to win the Series 17 times.
And now there are two. The World Series starts tomorrow night.
Representing the American League is Houston, the team that had the best record in baseball this year. In the National League, the pennant was won by a wild-card team, the Washington Nationals. The Astros won the Series two years ago. The Nationals franchise started as the Montreal Expos in 1969, moved to DC in 2005, and before this year, had never been in a World Series.
2019 Playoffs: The playoffs began with ten teams. Now there are four.
Oakland and Milwaukee dropped out quickly in the two sudden-death wild-card games. The AL wild-card winner was Tampa Bay, and in the NL, it was Washington.
This morning, I had breakfast with David Matson, Steve Roling, Jeb Bayer and Bob White. We do this every month or so to talk mostly baseball. But we gathered this morning to remember and celebrate Jack Campbell who has been part of our group. Jack passed away last Sunday and his funeral was yesterday (obituary).
The biggest Royals news this year is that the team will soon have a new owner – John Sherman of Kansas City.
Sherman became an investor in the Cleveland Indians in 2016, but that interest will be sold when he and his co-investors acquire the Royals in November.