Hot Stove #243 – Baseball Calendar Saving Willie Wilson’s Life and a Remembrance of Friends

The “Hot Stove League” as defined in The Dickson Baseball Dictionary:

“The gab, gossip and debate that take place during the winter months when baseball is not being played. These discussions replaying the past season and anticipating the next occurred at such gathering places as saloons, poolrooms, general stores, barbershops, and drugstores where there was a coal- or wood-burning potbellied stove at the center of the conversational group.”

 A Hot Stove Hiatus | Baseball History Daily

The term is still used, but thankfully the potbellied stove had been replaced by modern heating and the internet.

The current “Hot Stove Season” started on November 2, 2023 (the day after the Texas Rangers won the World Series) and will end for Royals fans on February 13 (the day before pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Surprise, Arizona).

The Hot Stove newsletter you are reading will not stop on February 13 – Rita and I are a year-round operation.

Some Important Upcoming Dates in Hot Stove World: 

January 23. Academy Award nominations announced this morning. More on that in a future Hot Stove.

January 28. NFC/AFC Championship games. Go Chiefs!


February 4. Debut episode of the 12th and final season of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Trailer here.

February 11. Super Bowl. Go Chiefs! [I’m optimistic they are going to beat the Ravens and reach the Super Bowl]

February 12 and 13. Hinge days with no NFL or MLB action on the field.

February 14. Pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

Royals Fever It Takes a Team to Care For the Team - News Network

February 20. Royals full squad reports.

March 10. Academy Awards.

March 28. Opening Day. At the K, 3:10 against the Twins.

March 28. FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried to be sentenced (up to 110 years).

April 2. Jackson County Election Day. Royals/Chiefs stadiums on the ballot.

Calendar Trivia: With reference to the above calendar, what do Larry David, the Super Bowl, MLB and the Royals have in common? They all lead to a story about FTX, the once high-flying cryptocurrency exchange.

Super Bowl LVI was held on February 13, 2022. FTX ran a TV ad featuring Larry David as a time traveler who rejects new things like the wheel, light bulb, fork, indoor plumbing, and…cryptocurrency. The hilarious ad was considered one of the best for the 2022 Super Bowl (click here).

On November 5, 2022, the Astros defeated the Phillies to win the World Series. Umpires were sporting the logo of FTX, MLB’s official cryptocurrency partner.

World Series umpires: Who is on crew for Phillies vs. Astros in 2022? -  DraftKings Network

Six days later (11/11/22), FTX declared bankruptcy.

In 2023, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted of fraud. During the trial, he testified that in 2021 he was looking for naming rights to sports venues. Three under consideration were the Chiefs, Saints and Royals. Two of the teams found other partners (Chiefs – GEHA; Saints – Caesars). Sam decided to pass on the Royals, saying “With no offense to the Royals, I didn’t want to be known as the Kansas City Royals of crypto exchanges.”

 Sam, as a Royals fan, I take no offense that the Royals did not become known as the FTX of baseball teams. And it is with some pleasure to note that Opening Day for the Royals this year is on March 28, the date of your sentencing. Karma.

 [Litigation Trivia: MLB and Larry David, Steph Curry, Tom Brady, Shohei Ohtani and other celebrities who promoted FTX have been sued by FTX investors for “aiding and abetting and/or actively participating in the FTX Group’s massive, multi-billion-dollar global fraud.” ]

The Man Who Saved Willie Wilson’s Life: In a recent Hot Stove about baseball memorabilia, I included a photo of a baseball Willie Wilson signed for Rita and me. This prompted Steve Paul to send me a photo of his baseball autographed by Willie.

Steve Paul's Willie Wilson autograph

It reads, “To Steve – The man who saved my life,” plus Willie’s “#6,” and on the side, “1985 WS Champs.” I of course asked Steve for the rest of the story.

In 1985, the Royals won the World Series, and the city celebrated with a parade. Steve was viewing the parade on Grand Avenue across the street from his workplace, the Kansas City Star. The players were being motored down the street in vintage convertibles. There was a lot of confetti, but it really was not confetti. It was shredded computer printouts that became clods of paper. Steve refers to it as computer-age tumbleweed, and it got caught beneath some of the vehicles and caught fire.

Steve was near Willie Wilson’s car and ran over to help Willie’s five-year-old daughter Sharice out of the car. Steve also made sure Wilson was out of danger before getting down and working with others to pull the smoldering paper from beneath the car. In retelling the story to friends over the years, Steve says he framed it as an episode of mock heroism.


Fast forward 29 years. In October of 2014, the Royals were preparing to play the Giants in the World Series. Steve ran into Willie at an event and jogged Willie’s memory about the 1985 parade (and Steve’s heroism, which, of course, Willie did not recall). Steve then turned the story into a column that ran in the Kansas City Star (10/25/14). In the column, Steve acknowledged his mock heroism: “How much more ironic and hyperbolic can you get: I saved Willie Wilson’s life?” But Steve could have done nothing, been a bystander. So, Steve, thanks for “saving” Willie.

Re FW Conversation on 1223.png

Alas, the Royals lost to the Giants, and so there would be no parade in 2014. But Steve’s story was rewarded when he attended spring training the following March. Willie Wilson was there autographing baseballs and signed the one confirming Steve’s contribution.

In 2015, the Royals again reached the World Series. The day before the Royals were to play Game 1 against the Mets, Jim Fitzpatrick (RIP 2023) made a recommendation to the city in his JimmyCsays blog:

“So, if any potential parade planners are reading this, please, do whatever you have to do to get real, sliced and diced confetti. If necessary, import it from New York. Spare no cost.”


Jim was one of the reporters covering the 1985 parade for the Kansas City Star. In his blog post 30 years later, he reflected on the experience:

“When you think of a downtown victory parade, the first thing that comes to mind is confetti, right? Well, there was no confetti at this parade; it was all shredded paper — shredded paper that quickly balled up [and] became both a weapon and a fire accelerant. Classic cars, overheated catalytic converters and shredded newspaper combined to form a combustible concoction that forced several parade participants, including then-Manager Dick Howser and his wife Nancy to bail from their cars and proceed either on foot or in other vehicles. I distinctly remember seeing the car in which the Howsers had been riding. The back seat was empty, except for one ladies high-heeled shoe.”

 Jim’s report included this photo of George Brett who rode a horse for part of the parade. Note the clumps of shredded paper being thrown in the air and rolling along like tumbleweed on the street.

For our World Series victory parade, by all means avoid shredded paper |  JimmyCsays: At the juncture of journalism and daily life in KC

There is a two-hour online video of Channel 4’s coverage of the parade, and the star of the first 15 minutes is the avalanche of confetti. Video here.

After Jim’s blog post in 2015, the Royals won the World Series. There was a wonderful parade. No fires.

Lonnie’s Jukebox – Roz and Pat Edition: This edition is dedicated to Rosalind (Roz) Webb and Pat Hininger, two sisters who played major roles in my life. Pat died in September of 2022 (at age 78), and Roz died earlier this month (at age 82; obituary here). Roz had a cameo in the Hot Stove posted on November 30, 2023, when I used one of the music selections in Lonnie’s Jukebox to wish her a happy birthday…

“Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy. A favorite of Ray Webb’s. Coincidentally, today is Roz Webb’s birthday. Happy Birthday Roz!!

I met Roz and Pat in 1967 when high school pals Bill Lochman and Jim Graham recruited me to their Young Democrats club. Pat was then president of the YD club, and Roz had just married Ray Webb who I knew from law school. The next four YD presidents after Pat were Ray, Bill Lochman, me and Roz.

Our club was closely tied to the Committee for County Progress, which was successful in electing many Jackson County officials, including Presiding Judge Charles Curry, Eastern Judge Alex Petrovic and Collector Jim Aylward. Pat was the executive assistant to Judge Petrovic at the Independence courthouse. Roz worked for Charles Curry’s county counselor and then became the executive assistant for Jim Aylward at the downtown courthouse.

Over the next decade, our social and political lives were closely intertwined. In addition to local YD meetings and parties, we often traveled together to state YD functions and national YD conventions (Louisville and Little Rock). We worked on many campaigns together, including Ray’s unsuccessful campaign for state representative in 1970. Details from those fun years are chronicled in a tribute I wrote about Ray (RIP 1984).

Pat and Roz, the dynamic duo, in their blue YD blazers.

 Ray and Roz with future Vice President Walter Mondale.


 One of my treasured keepsakes is a note sent to me by Roz after Ray’s memorial service in 1984.


 Whatever I say will not be sufficient to express my gratitude for your help. As I knew you would, you did not for a minute hesitate when I asked if you would share your memories of your friend and former business partner.

 Ray was never one to be jealous of his friends’ successes and always so proud to have known you when – and even prouder to have maintained that friendship over lots of years of personal and professional changes for you both.

 His most frequent reference to you was that unlike himself, you were a person who found something to like about everyone he met. He marveled at that and many other things different about the two of you, often wondering himself how the two of you became close friends. I guess some things just don’t need to be analyzed – they just are what they are.

 Thank you so much for making the service truly a celebration of life – exactly a fitting event handled so well by one who really cared and loved him as much as one man can love another.

 Also, Rita should know that one of the events that touched Ray emotionally more than any I’ve heard him speak of was your wedding ceremony.

 Thank you both for being there – then and now.

 Love, Rosalind”

Love you too Roz. And Ray. And Pat.

 Brewery Setlist: Our friendship was put to the ultimate test in early 1979. We went into business together. I had invested in the Brewery, a bar and restaurant in Brookside that opened in 1977. In early 1979, when the operating partner tired of the grind, Ray and Roz bought his interest and became my partner. We were willing to do this because we found the ideal person to manage the business – Pat Hininger. Pat did a great job, but in 1980, she got an offer she could not refuse – she became one of the first traveling saleswomen for Hallmark Cards. A little more luck then came along in the form of a buyer who paid enough to give us a modest profit.


 The Brewery will now also supply the selections for Lonnie’s Jukebox. The Brewery had a jukebox (a real one) filled with good music that served as a soundtrack for our years there. When I hear any of these songs to this day, I feel myself inside the Brewery enjoying the customers, friends and employees.

“Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees (showing John Travolta in the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever) and “Stayin’ Alive” (showing John Travolta as Santa Claus in the Capitol One/Quicksilver ad running during NFL playoffs this year – 47 years after the original).

Saturday Night Fever - Movie - Where To Watch

“Night Fever” by the Bee Gees. Oh my, the dancing. There were several songs from Saturday Night Fever on the jukebox, but I’ll stop at these two.

“Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” by Crystal Gayle.

“Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” by Meat Loaf. A tender ballad and a rousing rocker. The live performance of “Paradise” on the video matches what Rita and I saw when Meat Loaf played the Uptown in 1978 (worth the eight minutes).

“Blue Bayou” and “It’s So Easy” by Linda Ronstadt. Love Linda.

Linda Ronstadt Rocks! - Tumbling Dice & You're No Good, Atlanta 1977 -  YouTube

“Here You Come Again” by Dolly Parton.

“YMCA” by the Village People.

“Reunited” by Peaches and Herb.

“Lotta Love” by Nicolette Larson (raised in Kansas City). She and Linda Ronstadt in their early days sang backup together for Neil Young.

“September” by Earth, Wind and Fire.

“Slip Slidin’ Away” by Paul Simon.

“We Are the Champions” by Queen. A song I hope Kansas City fans are singing on February 11 after the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs with Roz, Ray and Pat: In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, we sat together with other Young Democrats as part of the Wolfpack in the North Stands at Municipal Stadium. Two key memories from that fandom…

A High: Super Bowl of 1970 in New Orleans. We watched on TV at the home of Lou and Millie Philpott (Roz and Pat’s parents). In the third quarter, I took a restroom break. There was a roar from the living room. I had missed one of the most famous plays in Chiefs history – Len Dawson to Otis Taylor to clinch the victory in Super Bowl IV (clip here).

A Low: Christmas Day 1971. Divisional playoff against Miami at Municipal Stadium. We were in the North Stands and saw the Chiefs lose in double overtime in the longest game in NFL history (82+ minutes). The final score was 27-24. Hall of Fame kicker Jan Stenerud missed three field goals (29, 32 and 42). [Up-to-date Trivia: 2024. The Chiefs won their divisional playoff last Sunday, 27-24. The difference was the Bills kicker missing a field goal. ]

Plaza Views: Two photos looking east from our condo. The first is from Friday night, January 12, two days before the Plaza Lights were turned off for the season. On the left is the Steeple of Light shining into the sky from Community Christian Church. Its glow is enhanced by snow flurries twinkling in the light. Just to the right of the Steeple of Light, on the horizon, are the lights of Arrowhead Stadium where the team was preparing for the Wild Card game the next night, a win over Miami.


The second photo was taken at sunrise last Sunday. We took the red color as an omen that the Chiefs would win that afternoon over Buffalo. As you all know, they did.


Go Chiefs!!!