Like many people who grew up in the Kansas City area in the 1970s, I was a big Kansas City Royals fan. It was a great time to be a baseball fan. The Royals went to the playoffs several times during my childhood, culminating with their only World Series title in 1985.
On New Year’s Eve 1972, Pittsburg Pirates star Roberto Clemente boarded a DC-7 aircraft in Puerto Rico filled with food, clothing, and medicine destined for Managua, Nicaragua, which was devastated by an earthquake eight days earlier. Moments after the plane took off, an engine exploded, then three more, and the plane crashed into the ocean. Clemente’s body was never found.
John Jordan "Buck" O’Neil was born in Carrabelle Florida in 1911. He was denied the opportunity to go to high school there because Florida had only four high schools specifically for African Americans. He went to live with relatives in Jacksonville, attended high school there, and took two years of college classes at Edward Waters College.
Hall of Fame second baseman Rogers Hornsby said, "People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." The Super Bowl is now history and March Madness has not begun, but pitchers and catchers have reported to their respective spring training sites in Florida and Arizona. The rest of the players will be reporting soon to prepare for the upcoming season, with rookies trying desperately to make an impact during this period to make it to the "Big Show."
On January 19, 2013, one of the greatest hitters of all times passed away. Stan Musial was one of the best Cardinal players in the history of baseball. He had 475 home runs, including a record 5 in a double header. Of all his 3,630 career hits, 1,815 came at home and 1,815 were on the road.
He was a man of a different era, and his records are simply amazing. Another incredible statistic, he was married 71 years to his wife, Lillian. The couple resided in the St. Louis area, where he remained a beloved figure.
Monday is opening day at Kauffman Stadiumm and it looks like, for the first time in ages, long suffering Royals fans may have something to look forward to. The way that the team has performed in the preseason bodes well for the coming year. Of course, this could be a complete anomaly and they might collapse the second the actual season gets underway, but hope springs eternal. But to be honest, I have never been a great fan of Major League Baseball. It seemed to me that it focuses too much on personalities and salary.
It's here again - baseball season! I can't wait to go to my first Royals game of the year in a few weeks. I love the vibe and energy of the "new" Kauffman Stadium, and I love to people watch as much as I love to watch the boys in blue. And, that first hot dog and ice-cold brew always taste better than any I'll consume the rest of the summer.
Another thing I love to do is watch baseball movies. Here's my list of the top ten best: