Monday, March 22, 2010

Royals in Monarchs Duds: August 3, 1994

The first Salute to the Negro Leagues at Kauffman Stadium, on August 3, 1994, came during heady times for Negro Leagues appreciation. The grand opening of the Negro Leagues Museum's current location was held just two days later. Ken Burns' Baseball documentary, which thrust Buck O'Neil and the Negro Leagues into a new level of notoriety, would debut in September.

Buck O'Neil discusses the night in his autobiography:
In 1994, when the Kansas City Royals held a special Negro Leagues Night at Kauffman Stadium, they asked me what uniform the Royals should wear that night. I could have chosen the one worn by the '42 Monarchs, the best team I ever played on, or by the '55 Monarchs, the last Monarchs team I managed. But I selected the 1924 Monarchs' uniform. When I looked at Tom Gordon and Brian McRae and Jose Lind in those beautiful white pinstripes—just like the Yankees' uniforms—I saw Joe Rogan and Newt Allen and Jose Mendez. That's one of the great things about baseball, if you think about it. Yesterday comes so easy.
The Royals hosted the Oakland A's, who did not wear special uniforms. It's the only Salute to the Negro Leagues in which the Royals wore Monarchs unis but the visiting team did not wear Negro Leagues throwbacks. The 1994 Royals were actually a pretty good team, and entered the game on an 11 game winning streak. Pitcher Jeff Montgomery was feeling a little superstitious and unsure about wearing different uniforms in the middle of a hot streak, but Montgomery didn't need to worry - the Royals prevailed 9-5. From an August 4th column in the Kansas City Star:
The blue and white pin-stripe uniforms, provided by Ebbets Field Flannel of Seattle, looked baggy on the players. They weren't totally comfortable, either

"It didn't take me long to get loose in the pen and work up a sweat," reliever Billy Brewer said. "I felt a little restricted in them." Center fielder Brian McRae said: "The socks were a little bit heaver, but it was alright." He said the superstition idea was ridiculous.

"We've been winning because we're playing good baseball," McRae said.

The bulk of the uniforms will be donated to the Negro Leagues Museum and will be auctioned for fund raising.
Also from the August 4th Star:
(Bob) Hamelin's appearance in the baggy Monarchs uniforms naturally drew comparisons to that of Babe Ruth, though there is an uncanny resemblance even without the uniform.

"I heard a few people call that Babe stuff out," Hamelin said.

"But actually more people were saying I looked better in this uniform than I do in the normal one. I guess you know what that tells you." And that is "It tells you I'm not that good-looking." Hamelin, like most of the Royals, didn't mind the uniform switch.

"Mine was a little tight," said Hamelin, 6 feet and 235 pounds. "But I guess that was to be expected."
Jose de Jesus got the win for Kansas City. Hamelin, in his Rookie of the Year season, hit his 23rd homer, and Wally Joyner had a perfect day at the plate with two hits and three walks. The Royals good play in 1994 was all for naught - the season was canceled a week after the Salute thanks to the players strike.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Monarchs Video Update

"To Satchel Paige, World's Greatest Pitcher, From the Chicago Defender, World's Greatest Weekly, July 26, 1942"

Well, this is a little embarrassing. After getting all proud of myself for identifying the date this wonderful footage was taken, baseball historian Dwayne Isgrig emails to point out that it appears the Monarchs and Memphis Red Sox are in Wrigley Field. And of course he is right. (Wrigley is especially recognizable in the clip where Satchel Paige is being presented with a gift.) So...never mind about all that opener of 1942 in Kansas City business I wrote about.

But - I do think I've pinpointed a new date on which the footage was surely taken: July 26, 1942. The Monarchs and Red Sox played a doubleheader at Wrigley that day, and the Chicago Defender report on the games even includes specifics about a tribute to Paige that took place between the two games. The gift we see being handed to Paige in the video is probably an engraved pocket watch presented by the Chicago Defender mentioned in the game summaries. Mr. Isgrig passed along this link of the very same pocket watch showing up on Antiques Roadshow in 2006. Incredible.

As you can see in the summaries and boxes below, the teams split the doubleheader, with Hilton Smith not having a good day on the mound in the first game for Kansas City, and Satchel beating Verdell Mathis in the second. (Note Buck O'Neil is called "Joe" O'Neil in the summary.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Royals In Monarchs Duds: July 1, 2007

The Monarchs throwbacks worn by the Royals for the 2007 Salute to the Negro Leagues are a bit of a mystery to me. The Royals claimed the unis were a 1945 Monarchs style, but I’ve never seen uniforms like them for 1945 or any other year. Two styles definitely worn in 1945 looked like these Ebbets Field Flannels reproductions:
The design of the 2007 jerseys matches the classic 1942 Monarchs uniforms, but not the color. It’s entirely possible the 1945 Monarchs wore such uniforms, I just haven’t seen evidence of it. Assumedly the Royals had access to more research material than I.

The 2007 game was the first Salute after Buck O’Neil’s death. The Royals hats all had “Buck O’Neil 22” embroidered on the sides and the entire coaching staff wore #22 in his honor. The jerseys featured a #42 patch on the right sleeves in honor of Jackie Robinson (though Jackie did not wear 42 with the Monarchs).

The Royals opponents this year were the White Sox, representing the 1945 Chicago American Giants. Their unis were dead ringers for those seen in this photo:

John Thomson started for the Royals, Jon Garland for Chicago. The Royals scratched out an unearned run in the bottom of the first, but couldn’t score again, and dropped the game 1-3. You can see some video from the game linked here.

(Interesting aside – Jim Thome appeared in the game for the Sox; his grandfather
Chuck Thome faced the real Monarchs in 1936.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

1942 Monarchs Home Opener

(Edit: I originally thought this incredible 27 second video came from the Monarchs home opener on Sunday, May 17, 1942, which inspired the below, edited post. Turns out the video is actually from July 26, 1942.)

The date was May 17, 1942. The opponent was the Memphis Red Sox. The Monarchs won the first half of the doubleheader 7-0 and dropped the second game 1-4. In the first game, Jack Matchett (second from the left in above picture) pitched a complete game, five-hit shutout with 4 Ks and 1 walk. He also went for 2-4 at the plate with a run scored. In the second game (a 7 inning affair), Satchel Paige, squaring off against Red Sox ace Verdell Mathis, didn't have his usual legendary control, and gave up 4 runs on 10 hits, with an un-Satch-like 6 walks.

The 1942 squad was one of the best teams in baseball history, plowing their way over the Negro American League, and then sweeping the National League Homestead Grays for the World Series title.

Summaries from the May 23, 1942 Chicago Defender:

("Duppert" Stadium is a typo - they were at Ruppert Stadium, later called Municipal Stadium, at 22nd & Brooklyn.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

KC Baseball eBay Pic Dump

The staff here at KC Baseball HQ spent some time drooling over curios on eBay you don't have to!

Roy Brashear 1909 T206 card

Larry Gura getting swamped after pitching a shutout (read the caption for more detail)

Charlie Finley rides A's mascot Charlie O. I think they're protesting that the White Sox wouldn't allow Charlie O. into the stadium. 'Cause that's how Charlie Finley rolled.

Don't know anything about this "Cunson" card

According to the listing for this record, it was "custom produced for Charles O. Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics. The Frank York Violins played 'Kansas City' for the new owner of the KC Athletics. He liked it so much he had them make this record. 'Missouri Waltz' is on the reverse."

Your 1907 Kansas City Blues

Pocket schedule for the first Royals season

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Royals In Monarchs Duds: June 25, 2006

Mark Redman

For the 2006 Salute to the Negro Leagues game at Kauffmann Stadium, the Royals wore 1949 style Monarchs uniforms.

2006 Doug Mientkiewicz game-used uniform

David DeJesus

1949 Monarchs

Jazz great Lionel Hampton in Monarchs uniform, circa 1949

Earl Taborn, circa 1949

Frank Barnes, circa 1949

Buck O'Neil 2004 Topps Fan Favorites card. Colorized picture circa 1949.

They faced the Brewers, who paid tribute to the 1923 Milwaukee Bears. The Bears played less than one complete season in the Negro National League. They were managed by Hall-of-Famer Pete Hill.

Chris Barnwell leaps over Doug Mientkiewicz

The Royals shutout the Brewers 6-0 on the strength of 7 innings from Mark Redman and a 3-for-3, 3 RBI game from Doug Mientkiewicz. Head to this link and click on the "
Mientkiewicz goes 3-for-3" video to see the unis in action.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Royals In Monarchs Duds: July 10, 2005

I've updated and revised quite a bit in the previous "Royals in Monarchs Duds" posts, so if you're interested, be sure to check those out again.

Angel Berroa

For 2005, the Royals wore gorgeous 1948 Monarchs throwbacks.

2005 Jose Lima & Zack Greinke game-used jerseys

Might be my favorite look from all of the Salute to the Negro Leagues games.

DJ Carrasco

Carrasco said after the game that the uniforms were "a bit heavier than regular gear but the looser, airy fit helped." (From Dick Kaegel's game wrap.)

Matt Stairs, Mike Sweeney

Note that the Royals wore special blank but matching batting helmets for this game. It's the only year I've seen pictures in which they've done that. Most years, the usual bright Royals helmets have been used, and can really jar the overall look.

Gene Baker, circa 1948

Hilton Smith, circa 1948

The Twins wore dark blue uniforms of the 1909 St. Paul Gophers. According to a preview on the Twins website, some of the Twins players were concerned about wearing such a dark uniform on a hot day:
It could always be worse, though. The uniforms could have been wool, which is exactly the material worn by those Gophers 96 years ago.

"I'm sure these guys didn't have this material back in the day," Hunter said in reference to the replica's thick polyester material. "I think they had wool, so I commend those guys for playing in that."

Players will have the opportunity to keep their uniform in exchange for a $500 donation to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which is located in Kansas City. Several players said they would do just that.
2005 unknown player game-used jersey

Torii Hunter knocks in the game-winning run

St. Paul Gophers, circa 1909

St. Paul Gophers, circa 1909

The game went 12 innings. Starters Carlos Silva and DJ Carrasco each went 7 innings, after which Silva and the Twins held a 2-1 lead. Mike Sweeney tied it up in the bottom of the ninth with his second homer of the game. But the Twins took the lead for good in the top of the 12th when Torii Hunter hit a grounder to third baseman Mark Teahen. Should have been a routine play, except the barrel of Hunter's bat was also hurtling toward Teahen. Distracted, Teahen booted the ball, allowing Nick Punto to score from third and the Twins to take a 3-2 victory.