Monday, July 30, 2007

Thinking of Home: Can You Smell the Folger's?

Fifteen years ago this month, Emily and I packed up her car and left Kansas City.

In many ways, it was a sad day. As I've written before, I was as big an advocate for Kansas City as you'll ever find. I suppose that if I were still around, they might joke and call me the "mayor" of Kansas City the way I make that same joke when someone knows everything about Lubbock.

But events broke as they did, and we took off that July morning for the dry heat of Arizona.

So began the great journey of our adult lives.

It's been almost half of my life since leaving K.C. It's been long enough that I've worn out two Royals ball caps. It's been long enough that I haven't replaced the second one.

In a complete coincidence, I am wearing an old, tattered Chiefs shirt as I type.

Emily have been bi-coastal since leaving the Heartland. We lived in California. We lived in upstate New York. Perhaps as a testament to our Midwest roots, neither stay lasted long.

This past weekend, Kansas City Royals radio announcer Denny Matthews was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. The Kansas City Star carried a nice story this morning. Thanks to the Internet, they also carried sound clips.

Listening to them is like the past 15 years never happened. Like I am a kid again. Things were right in the world. George Brett was over there on third base, like he should be. Frank White was on second. Kevin Appier was pitching, and Jeff Montgomery warmed up in the bullpen. More importantly, the Royals mattered.

A sound can take you back. So can a few lines of well-crafted prose. Here are a few words from the Star's Joe Posnanski this morning in a piece about Matthews. Those of you from Kansas City will understand the relevance:

"Denny Matthews is, I believe, a very good baseball announcer. He doesn’t stumble. He tells you about the game with an economy of words. He slips in some funny lines without making himself the show. He may not always sound entirely thrilled to be watching another 12-3 game, and he may not sound excited enough when the Royals hit a big home run. I like what Denny says about that. He says, “How about this: I’ll call the game. You scream.”

"But, more than any of that, he’s Kansas City’s baseball voice, as much a part of the city as the humidity, the backup going into the Grandview Triangle, the mansions along Ward Parkway and the smell of coffee as you pass the Folger’s Coffee Company downtown."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


This was a very refreshing post to read. Your Kansas City thoughts remind me of Cleveland. While I certainly have not moved across the country like you, one Indians radio play by play call can take me back to being a kid again.

I still remember the last radio broadcast for legendary Indians pitcher Herb Score was the 7th game of the 1997 World Series. I recorded that game on an audio cassette just to have Score's last radio broadcast forever. I haven't listened to it once, since the Tribe fell to the Marlins in heartbreaking fashion, and Score sounded completely dejected as he signed off.

Oh, and I hope for the days when the Browns matter again.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMEN Posnanski!

Miss one really terrific baseball announcer!

1:49 PM  

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