RUSH: So, I was back in Kansas City for the weekend and George Brett’s 60th birthday celebration. It was a massive surprise, and on Sunday it featured a trip to the ball game, the New York Yankees and the Royals. I was able to go for the first half of the game and then I had to split and come home and take care of some things here. But, folks, I have to tell you. You know, I worked there from 1979 to ’83, and I’ve been back a couple times, but I hadn’t been back to the bowels of the stadium.
I hadn’t been back to the locker room, and that stadium has been renovated and expanded. When I got there on Sunday, George met me and took me into the locker room to meet some people. I was stunned by what I saw. I still don’t believe this, and it’s simply based on the way it was when I was there, there is a full-fledged restaurant in the locker room! If the starting pitcher wants a burger and fries or a cheese omelet 10 minutes before the first pitch, he can get it.
Back when I worked there, they had a couple of beer taps or beer kegs that were locked until after the game and a little cheese and cracker spread beforehand, and maybe they catered a meal after a game if the team was leaving on a road trip. This was unbelievable, the lounge with the computers and televisions and full-time masseuses and so forth. It’s just mind-boggling to me the way the game has changed.
It was fascinating — and, of course, what they’ve done to Kauffman Stadium is impressive with the renovation and everything. I mean, it’s just amazing. I hadn’t been back in so long it looked like something I’d never seen before. At this party, the surprise party on Friday night at the restaurant on the plaza, I’m standing out there. I stood in one place. I got there and I immediately sought a place I could smoke a cigar, which happened to be a little patio.
But, I mean, it was sardine city. I couldn’t have moved in there if I’da wanted to. So I stayed in this one place. And it happened that when I got in there that Bobby Brett, George’s brother, was talking to a young guy from Japan. His name is Yoshi Okamoto, and he’s from Rawlings Japan. So Bobby started telling me about this guy, and he started telling this guy who I was. Yoshi lives in Tokyo, so he had no idea who I was.
So Bobby starts telling this guy all about me, and Yoshi is trying to take it all in and be polite but he’s clueless. Instead he starts telling me of his vast marketing plans for Rawlings. At first, he thinks I’m a baseball play-by-play guy and he’s giving me a couple slogans that I can use. He said, “Next time a ballplayer hits a home run, you say, ‘Mr. Rawlings has left the yard!'” I said, “Wait a minute. I don’t do sports play-by-play.” “Oh, okay,” but he thought he had a great idea.
So, anyway, I got his business card, and I told him, “You turn on KMOX, AM 1120, Monday morning.” He had to go to St. Louis for some meetings with Rawlings corporate headquarters there before going back to Japan. So I told him that I would give him a shout-out to let him know who I was. So I’m following through here on my promise to give Yoshi Okimoto of Rawlings Japan a shout out, because it was funny.
Here’s Bobby trying to tell this guy all about me, and he’s entirely clueless. (laughing) He’s from Tokyo, and he thinks I do baseball play-by-play, and he’s telling me things I should say. By the way, it was Mother’s Day. I have to mention, it was Mother’s Day of course yesterday and it was Mother’s Day at the ballpark, and the players were all wearing pink something or other, pink shoes or pink sleeves. There was one guy with a pink bat.
I’m talking about this and George said, “Have you seen the official ball for today?”
I said, “No.”
So he went and grabbed one.
The official Rawlings game ball yesterday was printed with pink ink.
So, anyway, it was a great weekend. It was a great time. It was not like a Twilight Zone, but it was like a time capsule visit for me, and it was just a blast. I saw Al Zeke, the old equipment manager. He’s the guy I had to go get the first pitch baseballs from when I was in charge of ceremonial first pitches. These guys ragged me like you can’t believe. I had to beg Zeke for ceremonial first pitch baseballs. He’d make me sign out for the things, as though I had to bring ’em back, and he was in there. He retired long ago. It was just a great weekend. It was just tremendous amount of fun.