As baseball season approaches I thought I would share with you an incredible experience I had years ago.
When I was a kid, my favorite baseball player was George Brett. I really loved watching him play–he was amazing. From the near .400 season to the “Pine Tar Incident,” he was awesome.
It was late one afternoon in April of 1976 when my father turned to me and said he had some exciting news.
“I have a business trip tomorrow to Kansas City and I thought you could tag along and see a Royals game.”
I was so excited. I was 8 years old and was going to get to see my baseball hero live and up close–a young boy’s dream was going to come true. We left early that Friday morning, made the hour drive from El Campo, Texas to Houston, hopped on an Braniff flight to Kansas City and landed there shortly after lunch. I went with my dad to a large office building and hung out in the lobby while he handled his meeting. I was so excited I couldn’t stand it.
After about 30 minutes a large salt and pepper haired man approached me and asked who I was and said something like, “Are you being dad’s helper today?” I immediately said, without any control, “I’m going to see George Brett today.”
“You are?” said the large man, “Are you going to meet him?”
“No, I’m just going to the game–but he is my favorite player and I’ve never been to his baseball field before.”
The large man paused for a few moments, smiled and bent his knees down so that his face was level to mine and after a second or so said, “How would you like to meet him and maybe even throw the ball around with him?”
I couldn’t believe it, I was standing there in disbelief at the mere thought of actually getting to toss the ball around with the great George Brett. I began to shake from lifting my heels off the ground over and over like a sort-of half jump and said, “I would give anything. Do you know him?”
“Turns out I do,” he said, “he is my nephew and I happen to have some dugout passes and I would love it if a young boy like yourself could get to meet his favorite player.”
He then slowly pulled out two large pieces of strong paper that said “dugout pass”
Not only was I going to get to go into the dugout, but I was also going to sit on the first row of seats right behind the dugout during the game! I have never been so thrilled.
My dad’s meeting ended and I showed him my new prize–he had this stunned, what-kind-of-scam-have-you-pulled look on his face. I explained what happened and he couldn’t believe it.
That evening we are headed to the stadium and I am just beaming. We arrive inside an hour and a half early and show the passes to the attendant. I was half certain that they were fake and we would get thrown out. Instead they showed us down to the dugout and told us the team would be coming out in about 5 minutes.
There I was in the KC dugout with my dad, my glove and no one else. Suddenly the door opened and the Royals came trotting out onto the field. Out came guys like Buck Martinez, John Mayberry, Frank White, Hal McRae, Amos Otis, Freddie Patek, Steve Busby, Andy Hassler and then George Brett. He was like a diety walking out after a great 1975 season and primed and ready to lead the Royals to a 90 win season. He walked over to me and said,
“My uncle says I have a visitor today–you must be the man.” I smiled and said, “Great to meet you Mr. Brett.” He said, “Call me George and what is your name?” I said “Murphy Scott Klasing.” as if I needed to tell him my entire name.
He said, “Well, Murphy Scott Klasing, I need to warm up so you want to throw me some balls?” Did I ever, I could not believe I was getting this opportunity. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Tal and Michael and David and my other friends that I had played catch with George Brett.
We walked out to the field and I threw the ball and he graciously threw it softly back to me. I was not exactly an athlete but I did love the game. Stretching out next to where we were throwing was John Mayberry. One one toss to George I threw so wildly that it went right by him and plunked Mr. Mayberry on the back of his neck. He jumped up, spun around and said, “what the ___ was that?”
Needless to say I was wide-eyed and freaked out. When Mr. Mayberry saw that it was an 8 year old that had plunked him, he quickly apologized for the cursing and spoke to George for a quick second where I could not hear what he was saying.
George walks over to me and says, “I think I’m pretty warmed up. Me and John were talking and decided that you needed to be our batboy for the game–if you want to.” I said, “Yes, yes, yes.” I checked with my dad and was given the green light.
So there I was in the dugout getting bats for players and hangin’ with the Royals. The game started. It was against the Cleveland Indians. Bird was pitching for the royals and through 7 innings had only given up 2 runs. In the bottom of the 8th inning it was tied 2-2. With men on 1st and 2nd and one out, George took the plate. He hit a single loading the bases. I was so excited. Mayberry singles in 2 runs and leaves George at third. Hal McRae steps up and hits a grounder for an out but George scores on the play. I ran out of the dugout to meet him at the plate and he picked me up as he crossed home.
The game ended with the Royals winning 5-3 and I experienced the greatest baseball dream day of my life. I got the autographs of all the players and to this day will never forget the experience.
The only thing that would have made this experience any better…
any better at all…
if even one single word (other than the fact that George Brett is my favorite player and they did beat the Indians 5-3) was at all true.
Happy April Fools Day!