I’m not much of a golfer. But this years Royals Charities Golf Tournament was the most memorable round I’ve ever played. I almost got a luxury car out of the deal! Maybe playing at the National Golf Club of Kansas City (aka “The National”) every year is raising my game. And if it’s not, at least it’s a beautiful place to play.
At the end of the beautiful 4th hole of this Tom Watson-designed course (on which a major water hazard lurks on the right side), this was the car available to anyone who could make a hole in one on this par 3 (as their website describes it “stubbornly guarded by a lake on the right.”) It’s around 178 yards to the pin. The car is a Lexus ES 350. But, alas, I’m not driving it.
This is how close I came to my first hole in one (and the car). I “lipped out.” Squeals were heard from witnesses sitting close to the green as my drive rolled around the edge of the cup. The truth is I was in a bit of shock…the last thing I would have expected. That helped mute any disappointment (a little).
Before the golf, the Royals completed a 4-3 road trip against two contending teams as the pennant race was heating up in August. We had a rain delay of more than three hours in the Saturday game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, but by Sunday all that humid, rainy weather was gone. Celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this season, this beautiful ballpark changed baseball, and really, all of sports. Look at all the new and renovated stadiums in all 4 major sports the past 20 years. It all started here, in 1992. And it still looks brand new.
Down in that sea of orange, which was out beyond the wall in left-center field, is the new Legends Park. All six Orioles in the National Baseball Hall of Fame are being honored with bronze statues being unveiled throughout this season. On the Saturday we were there, before the game, as they unveiled Eddie Murray’s likeness. Besides Eddie, ceremony participants included Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Cal Ripken and Ozzie Smith (yes…Ozzie Smith…can you believe he and Eddie Murray were high school teammates in L.A.? Imagine how great THAT team must have been!). They were under that white tent (you’ll have to take my word for it, as this was as close as I could get to the proceedings.)
Ok…self-indulgent time (again, since it is my blog after all). While we were in Chicago and Baltimore, my son John was on vacation in Michigan with his cousins. Here his cousin Jane (she’s on the right in both photos) showed off her computer-photo talents as she mixed a shot from this years vacation with John (he’s on the left in both photos) and then placed it on top of the 2002 (or so) versions of both kids. All together now….awwwwww.
Almost as cute is White Sox broadcaster and former pitcher Ed Farmer. On this particular night Ed was wearing the attire of a US Cellular Field hot dog vendor. (Their booth is next ours, so he modeled it for me through the window that separates us.) He had surreptitiously bought hot dogs for Manager Robin Ventura and his coaching staff, which were then delivered to the White Sox dugout right after the National Anthem and right before first pitch. Bon Appetit!
While July was a rough month for the Royals on the field, the All-Star celebration provided Kansas City with a Field of Dreams. And the West Coast weather was delightful (even if the scores of most of the games were not).
One of the most beautiful settings in all of baseball is Safeco Field, which recently celebrated its 13th anniversary as the home of the Mariners. The roof is open most days this time of year, temperatures are generally in the 70’s or low 80’s (we saw temps in the 60’s on the final day we were there). On this day Felix Hernandez aka “King Felix” was pitching. M’s were on a roll, sweeping the Royals then sweeping Toronto.
While the Royals were in Seattle, the Mariners inducted former pitcher Randy Johnson and former catcher Dan Wilson into their Hall of Fame. After the ceremony they shared first pitch honors. The Big Unit blossomed as a big leaguer while in Seattle. He pitched in the Kingdome from 1989 until 1997, maturing from a flame throwing tall guy who had no idea where the ball was going and scared hitters to death, to a flame throwing tall guy who usually knew where the ball was going and scared hitters to death. He finished his career with 303 wins. Dan Wilson was a Mariner from 1994 until 2005. He is considered one of the best defensive catchers in Major League history.
I just thought I’d drop this in to show you how nice it was in Southern California and, later, in Seattle. In my especially cruel moments I would send an image like this one back to the midwest, where the temps were north of 100 degrees, as if to say “read em and weep!”
The pool is a very inviting on a 77 degree day. It’s a temperature which allows you to comfortably get in the pool if you’d like, but you don’t feel forced to get in because of sauna-like conditions.
Of course the highlight of July for the whole Kansas City region was the All-Star Game and all the events surrounding it. The people of Kansas City did a magnificent job welcoming the world to town. My brother, Andrew and his son Charlie joined my son John and me (I took the picture) for the Derby and the game. We had a blast.