Seeking 1950s Kansas City A’s Storytellers

Did the pitcher ever sign
“Buddy” autographs?

I’m looking for more Tom Harrisons.

The 1965 Kansas City Athletics pitcher got me thinking. Who are the colorful 1950s KC alums?

That spurred me to dig out some old rosters from 1955-59. I wasn’t looking for A’s Hall of Famers, but dependable signers who might have some classic stories. Here are the 10 I chose to get letters:

Joe Astroth
Mike Baxes
Glenn Cox
Bud Daley
Alex George
Ken Johnson
Lou Klimchock
Bob Martyn
Rance Pless
Jim Small

Stay tuned!

Moe Drabowsky’s Smelly 1965 Season

A great signer until
his 2006 passing.

Thanks again to Tom Harrison, 1965 Kansas City Athletics pitcher, who shared a bonus story when I wrote to him.

“One quick story about Moe Drabowsky. After spring training, the whole team had to fly to KC and have our cars driven to KC by paid drivers. From the KC airport, four of us shared a cab to downtown KC hotel, where we had to stay until we found an apartment.

On that ride were Joe Rudi, Catfish Hunter, Moe Drabowsky and myself. Joe sat up front.

Just before we got to the hotel, Moe leaned over the front seat, pulled out a little bottle of sulfur (rotten eggs) and placed a couple of drops between Joe and the driver.

Slowly, the driver turned to Joe with a ‘I can’t believe you did that’ expression. No words spoken.

Then in the hotel, on the elevator (a crowded elevator) Moe did the same thing. Now, instead of just the driver, you had some 6 or 7 people with that ‘I can’t believe someone did that’ expression. I was trying to make myself invisible.

As it turns out, Moe was really a good guy, and very sharp in the stock market. Over the years he has made lots of money for his baseball friends. He was also a very good big league pitcher who had a memorable year in 1966 with the Orioles and in the World Series against the Dodgers.

I was very sad when he passed away recently.

I hope to tell that same story at our annual banquet in KC June 8-9.”

Coming Wednesday: Writing to former Kansas City A’s…my 10 Most Wanted List.

1965 Kansas City Athletics Pitcher Tom Harrison Remembers Mule-headed Teammate

For years, fan interest kept the A’s
mule mascot kicking. I spotted this
vintage sticker offered on ebay.

Don’t sell the “cup of coffee” player short. Someone can build more memories in two weeks than some superstar after two decades.

My exhibit A is Tom Harrison, who pitched in just one game for the 1965 Kansas City Athletics.

He made the season come alive again in his reply. His comments follow:

“First of all, thanks for taking an interest in baseball and secondarily, an interest in my short big league career. My first year, I played in Daytona Beach, Fla. I had a 6-7 record, but left in July, leading the league in strikeouts and ERA. Notable teammates at Daytona were Felix Millan, Alex Rodriguez (catcher for the Angels ’60s) and Joe Rudi.

From Daytona, I went to Lewiston, Idaho, and played for the Broncos. Record-wise, nothing notable, except I got my ass handed to me on more than one occasion.

The first three games, I gave up seven home runs. In Daytona, I gave up two home runs in 19 games. You either learn from your mistakes or go home. Notable players were John Donaldson, Ramon Webster, Tony LaRussa, Bill Edgerton and manager Bobby Hoffman, who played for the World Champion New York Giants, 1954.”

I asked about “Charlie O,” the Athletics mule mascot. No costumed character. The real animal! Tom replied:

“I only remember the mule during our first road trip. Ken Harrelson rode him in Yankee Stadium, and Charley (Finley, team owner) got him into the Americana Hotel.

This is the crap that Finley concerned himself with.”

However, I wondered if the mascot budget might have caused players to get their basic needs overlooked. Tom answered:

“Being that this was my first and only experience in the bigs, everything was fantastic. Somebody else cleaned your shoes, washed your clothes and took care of all your basic baseball needs.

What a life!”

Lastly, Tom reminded me that statistics never tell the whole story. For instance, I asked if hockey was ever a choice for the Canadian-born athlete. He responded:

“I heard more about my place of birth after my career. I left Canada at 18 months, so hockey never entered into my psyche. I worn born in Trail, British Columbia, and in 1936, the Trail Smoke Eaters were the world amateur champions.”

Coming Wednesday: Memories of Jim “Catfish” Hunter.

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