I’m guessing the subject line got your attention. I’ll get to the halter top, but first…
Did you notice the number for this Hot Stove post? 222. I immediately thought of Larry Ray’s line “Deuces on the scoreboard” to indicate there were two balls, two strikes and two outs. Larry was the Kansas City Blues play-by-play announcer when I was growing up, and he stayed on for the first two years of the Kansas City A’s (1955 and 1956).
Royals Halter Top Day Is Back: In 1976, the Royals won their first division title. One of the top promotions in that “Star Spangled Summer” was the first Halter Top Day at the K.
“FREE HALTER TOP TO ALL GALS 15 YEARS OLD AND OLDER.” The small print was just as politically incorrect, “We’re not sure who’s going to have more fun Sunday at Royals Stadium – the guys or the gals.”
Below, from Halter Top Day in 1979.
Halter top days were held by many teams, and the most famous (infamous?) MLB halter top was probably this one from the Minnesota Twins in the 1970s:
The promotion faded over the years (“sexist,” “politically incorrect,” etc.). The Royals revived the promotion in 2009, but with two major changes:
(i) “Males” were included with the “ladies” per the Royals promo: “The halter top is back…the first 10,000 ladies will receive a Royals Halter Top, while the first 10,000 males will receive a Royals Classic Ringer Tee.”
(ii) It was not a halter top.
The promotion included a video with George Brett and Willie Wilson discussing their memories of past Halter Top Days. But the link to the video now leads to an error message. Somebody needs to find a bootleg of that.
Fast forward to 2023. “Retro” Halter Top Day is scheduled for June 27, the same calendar date as the inaugural Halter Top Day in 1976. The Royals website says the “giveaway” goes to the “first 10,00 fans.” Not just gals and ladies?
Tickets on sale now!
Royals and Fountains: On Friday April 14, I walked over to Mill Creek Park to attend the celebration of Fountain Day – the day the city’s fountains are turned on for the season.
This is a special year for the City of Fountains Foundation as they celebrate their 50th anniversary and begin a new partnership with the Royals to Bring Out the Blue all season long. Each month, one of the city’s major fountains will be dyed blue.
The first fountain to be blue under the program is Mill Creek Fountain, and Sluggerrr was on hand to add the blue dye as the fountain was started.
Below, Mayor Quinton Lucas thanks Sluggerrr for his good work.
A special thank you to Jim Fitzpatrick (RIP) who served this past year as President of the City of Fountains Foundation.
This photo of Jim is by legendary KC photographer Roy Inman. On Fountain Day this year, the City of Fountains Foundation released a beautiful new edition of Inman’s fountain photos. A sampling of the photos are in this KCUR post (“In each of his photographs, water glints against electric blue skies. Bronze and marble sculptures bathe in afternoon light. Streams of water flow into glowing pools at night.”). The book is available at Rainy Day Books, the Nelson, the Kemper, Union Station and Made in KC stores.
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Metropolitan Room Edition: For the past 25 years or so, Rita and I have often been to New York. In addition to my major client being there, we have for many years taken a long Memorial Day weekend to binge on Broadway shows. On several trips, we also went to the Metropolitan Room on 22nd Street to see one of our favorite cabaret singers, Lauren Fox.
The Metropolitan Room closed in 2017, but it came back on my radar this past month because of two Kansas City artists, Marilyn Maye and David Basse. I knew they had both played the Metropolitan Room, sometimes on the same bill. From Broadway World in 2013:
“On the ninth of January, David Basse returns to New York’s Metropolitan Room to join his pal Marilyn Maye for a double bill. Maye performs at 7 pm with Basse doing the 9:30 pm set.”
Many Hot Stove readers will know why this is so special. Marilyn Maye turned 95 years old on April 10.
I first saw Marilyn Maye about 55 years ago during her 11-year residency at the Colony Steakhouse in the Ambassador Hotel in Kansas City. She was the top cabaret act in town and then took it on the road for decades of success. She is extremely popular in New York, but always returns to her home base in Kansas City when not performing. Johnny Carson may have her biggest fan – she was on his show 76 times. Below, in one of her many appearances at the Metropolitan Room.
“I’m Still Here” by Marilyn Maye. A clip from the Carnegie concert.
“Cabaret” by Marilyn Maye. An example of her cabaret show, this one being at Feinstein’s/54 Below when she was 93.
“Cabaret” by Marilyn Maye. Same song, but from the 1960s. Quite the video.
David Basse: Rita and I have followed David Basse’s jazz/blues career for many years. Last month, he brought together the City Lights Jazz Orchestra and other local artists for a tribute to Black composers (Duke Ellington, Jay McShann, Charlie Parker, Bobby Watson and many more). It was a delightful afternoon.
David is known for his unique vocals, and one of my favorite reports on this is from Broadway World after one of David’s New York appearances:
“Purchasing all of Basse’s discs at a recent gig, iconic American poet Maya Angelou was compelled to proclaim to the vocalist, ‘I love the soul that is your voice’.”
“52nd and Broadway” by David Basse. My internet search for a Basse video at the Metropolitan Room was not successful, but here he is live at the Blue Room in the 18th and Vine District.
David is a passionate ambassador for KC jazz and blues, often hosting and organizing events with other artists…
“Baby It’s Cold Outside” by David Basse, Kathleen Holman and the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra.
Basse is a also a major jazz historian, much of it shared over 15 hours each week on his syndicated public radio show (click here for info).
Often sporting his signature fedora, David is always appreciative of Rita’s many hats, or as he likes to say, her chapeaus.
Lauren Fox: As Rita and I were planning a trip to New York in 2012, we read a gushing review about Lauren Fox in the NYT…
“The affair of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen in the late 1960s may have only lasted a few months, but its resonance in the songs of these two Canadians – especially in Ms. Mitchell’s lyrics – is far reaching. A speculative exploration of their personal and artistic chemistry is only one aspect of Lauren’s remarkable cabaret show, ‘Love, Lust, Fear & Freedom: The Songs of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen,’ at the Metropolitan Room.”
We checked the calendar for Fox’s next show, and it overlapped when we would be in New York. But there was a problem. It was sold out. So we took a leap and went to the Metropolitan Club that night as people were lining up for the show. We got lucky – two different people had a spare ticket. We were in! And, like the reviewer said, she was remarkable. We were mesmerized as she would sing a Leonard song (wearing his signature fedora) and then a Joni song (sans hat).
From the Metropolitan Room…
“All I Want” by Lauren Fox. A Joni Mitchell song.
“Chelsea Hotel” by Lauren Fox. A wonderful cover of Leonard’s night with Janis Joplin.
“Hallelujah” by Lauren Fox. Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece.
Over the years, we saw Lauren three more times (photos below), including a night when she recorded her live album of the Cohen/Mitchell show. We of course have the DVD.
More Hat Talk: When we attended David Basse’s tribute to Black composers, Rita thought it would be a good time to break out her Vanilla Beane hat. This hat was gifted to Rita by her friend Kathy Firestone who told Rita the hat came with a pedigree.
Vanilla Beane worked for decades as an elevator operator and mail clerk in Washington DC. In 1979, at the age of 60, she went from being a hobbyist as a hat-maker to opening her own shop. She became known as the “DC Hat Lady” who “embodied Black excellence.” Famous customers of her millinery included Maya Angelou. Vanilla Beane was still designing hats for her shop when she died last year at the age of 103 (Wiki page here).
Below, two women in Vanilla Beane hats.
Civil rights leader Dorothy Height (2017 US postage stamp)…
Rita Leifhelm (2023)…
Spring in Kansas City: From two of our walks this past week.
Kauffman Memorial Garden at Brush Creek and Rockhill Road.
Loose Park with duck, heron, turtles and redbuds.