Hot Stove #232 – Kansas City Monarchs (1942 and 2023) and More Posnanski

Over a long Labor Day Weekend, Rita and I saw 15 films at the Telluride Film Festival. As she says, it’s the sport of extreme sitting. A movie report will be in the next Hot Stove.

Kansas City Monarchs at Legends Field (2023): Have you noticed these recent headlines in the Kansas City Star?

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The Kansas City Monarchs are owned by Mark Brandmeyer who acquired the former T-Bones franchise in 2021. In a cooperative agreement with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the team was renamed the Monarchs. Their stadium, near the NASCAR speedway, was also renamed – Legends Field, a dual nod to the surrounding commercial area (the Legends) and the Field of Legends, the baseball field of statues of Negro League greats at the NLBM.

The Monarchs play in the independent American Association of Professional Baseball. The teams in the league are not affiliated with any major league teams, but the league is an official “MLB Partner League.” Coincidentally, the minor league Kansas City Blues played in a league called the American Association from 1902 to 1954 (that league folded in 1997).

The Monarchs went 59-40 this year, the best record in the 12-team league. Below, celebrating after clinching the West Division title.

The post-season for the American Association includes the top eight teams. Last Friday, the Monarchs completed a sweep against their first-round opponents, the Sioux Falls Canaries. As headlined in yesterday’s Star

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Tonight, the Monarchs begin second-round play against the Sioux City Explorers.

Go Monarchs!

Kansas City Monarchs at Ruppert Stadium (1942): The Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues from the 1920s to the 1950s did not enjoy such frequent headlines in the Kansas City Star. For example…

In 1942, the Monarchs played the Homestead Grays in the Negro Leagues World Series. The Monarchs won Games 1 and 2 (played in Washington DC and Pittsburgh, the dual home cities of the Grays) and won Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. Below, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson at Game 1.


Game 4 was played in Kansas City at Ruppert Stadium, the park at 22nd and Brooklyn shared with the Yankees top farm team, the Kansas City Blues. The Grays won Game 4, but the result was thrown out because the Grays had used some ringers (players “borrowed” from the Philadelphia Stars). The newly scheduled Game 4 was played at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, and the Monarchs won to take the title.

Back in Kansas City, this was the title-game coverage in the Kansas City Times, the morning edition of the Kansas City Star


This Associated Press article appeared on page 14 of the September 30 edition of the Times. The lead sports coverage was on page 13 where photos and long articles covered the upcoming 1942 NL/AL World Series between the Yankees and Cardinals. The Monarchs article was buried in the middle of page 14 below news on horse racing, bowling and MU football coach Don Faurot talking about defenses to his T-formation.

Although the Times and Star had occasional coverage of the Monarchs, fans of the team needed to read the Kansas City Call for regular news on the champion Monarchs.

[Satchel Trivia: The last paragraph of the Times article references one of the many legendary stories about Satchel Paige. Satch was slated to start the game but arrived late to the park because he had been arrested for speeding. The substitute starting pitcher gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings. Satch came in to relieve and pitched 5 1/3 hitless innings, and the Monarchs came back to win 9-5.]

[Hall of Fame Trivia: In the NL/AL World Series in 1942, there were seven future Hall of Fame players: Cardinals – Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial; Yankees – Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Phil Rizzuto and Red Ruffing. In the Negro Leagues World Series that year, there were eight future Hall of Famers: Monarchs – Willard Brown, Buck O’Neil, Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith; Homestead Grays – Ray Brown, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard and Jud Wilson.]

Kansas City Monarchs at Kauffman Stadium (2023): Monarchs uniforms will also be seen at Kauffman Stadium this coming Saturday night, September 16. The Royals are playing the Astros who will be wearing the vintage uniforms of the Newark Eagles. The Monarchs lost to the Eagles in the 1946 Negro Leagues World Series. The first 10,000 fans get a Monarchs jersey (details here).

Joe Posnanski at Rainy Day Books: Last Friday night, Rainy Day Books hosted an author event for Joe Posnanski who talked about his new book, Why We Love Baseball. Joe was joined on stage by his podcast partner Michael Schur whose day job is being a successful TV sitcom creator and writer (Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn 99, The Good Place, etc.).


Unity Temple on the Plaza was filled with hundreds of Posnanski fans, and the evening was delightful. Rita and I feel sure that Joe has another best-seller on the market.

Rainy Day Books presold over 3,000 of Joe’s books in anticipation of its release on September 5. Those of us preordering from Rainy Day were given the bonus of drafting our own inscription to be penned in the book by Joe. Here is his response to our request:


The rest of the story. In March of 2011, Joe was at Sports Illustrated and wrote an article predicting that the Royals would win the World Series in 2015. He correctly picked up on the potential of young players (like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas) and the planning by general manager Dayton Moore. To predict a World Series victory four years later was quite a stretch for a team that had just completed seven straight losing seasons.

But the miracle did happen, and here is the Sports Illustrated cover page from 2015…


If you look closely, this is a mock-up of the cover. The original copy at the bottom reads “A WORLD SERIES TITLE NO ONE SAW COMING,” but SI managing editor Chris Stone then remembered the 2011 prediction by his former writer Joe Posnanski. Stone sent Joe this mock-up with a red cross-out so that it reads “A WORLD SERIES TITLE ONE [POSNANSKI] SAW COMING.”

With Joe’s history of predicting four years ahead, I asked him to do it again for the 2023 Royals. A World Series win in 2027!

I gave Joe a slight out by letting him hedge that his predictions are only 99.44% accurate. You know, the Ivory Soap purity number (and it floats).

How does the 99.44% come in? Joe and “Poscast” partner Michael Schur make predictions at the beginning of each season and guarantee (with tongue in cheek) they will be 99.44% accurate. Sounds high. But it sure would be nice if the Royals win it all in 2027.

President George W. Bush and Gus Zernial: Another Posnanski story. Joe’s previous book, The Baseball 100, was highly acclaimed, and Joe got a thank you from former President George W. Bush.

Bush agreed with Joe on Willie Mays being #1. He then added, “But where is Gus Zernial. I know where he is – he’s in a garbage dump with rest of my old cards.”

I’m pretty sure I also had a Gus Zernial card that disappeared with my other baseball cards after I went off to college. I have no idea why President Bush singled out Zernial. Gus began his MLB career with the White Sox in 1949 and early in the 1951 season was traded to the Philadelphia A’s. In 1955, the A’s moved to Kansas City, and Gus became an early KC fan favorite as a slugger (30 homers in 1955). In his 11-year career, he hit 237 homers (Junk Stat – The most career homers by a player with a last name starting with a Z until he was overtaken by Todd Zeile in 2003).

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Zernial was once touted as the new Joe DiMaggio, but no one ever wrote a song with the nostalgic line “Where have you gone Gus Zernial?” However, Gus does have a fun connection to the Yankee Clipper.

During spring training in 1951, Marilyn Monroe did a photo shoot with the White Sox to publicize an upcoming movie. Below, with Gus.

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DiMaggio saw the photos in a newspaper and teased Zernial when he saw him at an exhibition game. Zernial’s take on DiMaggio: “He couldn’t believe someone like me could meet Marilyn Monroe. He made the comment, ‘Why should a busher like me get to meet her?’” Gus put Joe in touch with Marilyn’s press agent. You know the rest of the story.

Coco Gauff: Hot Stove does not have much tennis news, but in 2019, I wrote about a young player who was wowing the fans at Wimbledon:

“This morning, my new favorite player ended her magical run with a loss in the fourth round. That would be 15-year-old Cori “Coco” Gauff. I think we will be hearing more about her.”

Saturday, Rita and I watched Coco (now 19) win her first major at the U.S. Open in New York. Looking forward to more victories for her in the majors.

Coco Gauff, of the United States, reacts during a match against Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, during the women's singles final of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Lonnie’s Jukebox – Deadheads and Parrotheads: The Grateful Dead’s devoted fans are the Deadheads, and the Royals hosted some of them earlier this month. Many sports teams have found that Deadheads continue to respond to these promotions even though the group disbanded when Jerry Garcia died in 1995.

The Royals promotion included a tribute band (Better Off Dead) and fan gifts of “Gold Dancing Bear Bobbleheads.” As Deadheads know (and I did not until starting work on this post), the dancing bear logo traces back to Owsley “Bear” Stanley who was the band’s sound engineer in the early days. He also was the chemist behind the creation and distribution of a large portion of the LSD consumed in the US in the 1960s. Speaking of drugs…

“Truckin’” by the Grateful Dead (1971). The lyrics refer to a drug raid at the band’s hotel in New Orleans in 1970.

Busted, down on Bourbon Street
Set up, like a bowling pin
Knocked down, it gets to wearing thin
They just won’t let you be

The lyrics track the lifestyle of a touring band, and the refrain “what a long, strange trip it’s been” has evolved into a description of any long and difficult journey.

Grateful Dead: where to start in their back catalogue | Grateful Dead | The  Guardian

“Kansas City” by the Grateful Dead (Live in 1985). My law partner Eric Edwards is much more schooled in the Deadhead world than I am, and he passed along a cool piece of band trivia. On October 27, 1985, the Royals won Game 7 to become World Series champions. The next night, the Grateful Dead played a concert in Atlanta and included this song which was not usually in their setlist. At the beginning, Bob Weir says “I wonder how many of you were watching TV last night,” referring to the Royals victory.

“Touch of Gray” by the Grateful Dead (1987). The Dead’s biggest Billboard pop hit (# 9).

“Not Fade Away” by the Grateful Dead (Live in 1989). I’m a big Buddy Holly fan, and this 1957 song with the Crickets rates in the top-ten of most-played songs by the Grateful Dead during their 2,000+ concerts.

Moving on from Deadheads to Parrotheads, the tribe of fans devoted to Jimmy Buffett.

Buy 4.75 Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville Vinyl Sticker. Parrot Online in India  - Etsy

Jimmy Buffet died on September 1 at age 76. Lee Judge penned a perfect visual…

leejudge | Lee Judge | Substack

Lee drew political cartoons for the Kansas City Times and Star for over 35 years before retiring in 2017. He has continued to draw cartoons that appear nationally and in his hilarious stream-of-consciousness blog postings (check it out here). In his early days at the Star, Lee interviewed Jimmy Buffett and tells his story in this blog post. And now to the song that inspired Lee’s cartoon…

“Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” by Jimmy Buffett (1977).

Jimmy was a personal and professional friend of Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. He often covered the Dead’s song…

“Scarlet Begonias” by Jimmy Buffett (Live in 2022). The link is to a live version that begins with a shoutout to Deadheads on the occasion of Jerry Garcia’s 80th birthday anniversary (Garcia died at age 53 in 1995).

Buffett was a baseball fan and had part ownership of minor league teams in Miami (below) and Madison, WI. He has often been quoted for his love of ballparks: “These old ballparks are like cathedrals in America. We don’t have big old Gothic cathedrals like they do in Europe. But we got baseball parks.”

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Buffett became best known for his songs (and businesses) that drew in the Parrotheads. Hawaiian shirts. Flip-flops. Adult beverages. Laid back oceanside lifestyle.

“Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett (1977). The link is to a live performance for “Boston Strong” in 2013. This is Buffett’s signature song and became the name for his successful restaurant chain and trademark merchandise.

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Restaurant to Open in Boston in Summer 2020

“Cheeseburger in Paradise” by Jimmy Buffett (1978).

Cheeseburger in paradise
Heaven on earth with an onion slice
Not too particular, not too precise
I’m just a cheeseburger in paradise

“It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett (2003). Fun video with Jimmy arriving in the second half. Parrotheads are happy.

Pour me somethin’ tall and strong
Make it a Hurricane before I go insane
It’s only half past twelve, but I don’t care
It’s five o’clock somewhere

RIP Jimmy Buffett.

Lee Judge Encore: The Judge cartoon for Jimmy Buffett reminded me of a classic by Judge published in 1982 when barbecue legend Arthur Bryant died.

Whatever Happened To: Political Cartoonist Lee Judge - IN Kansas City  Magazine