January18/ 2000

.. Judge Swagger is worn out with all this Kangaroo Court blather about “Shoot the coach” … “No, hang the coach, shoot the AD” … “Hell, run over both of’em with a bulldozer”… By Saturday night, there’ll be a whole new scenario to dissect. …. Meanwhile it’s MLB Playoff Time!  To honor Baseball In October we are reprinting a SSays Golden Oldie – “A Royal Night With A King”.  It’s a mega-feel good story. …. BUT FIRST …. UPDATE-Thurs Night!


   Daniel Evans IS FOR REAL!  Chuck – Hot Seat – What Hot Seat??? …  uh-oh … Pressure in Chapel Hill just ratcheted up even higher.  Pressure in Tallahassee just ratcheted up too.   Oh Me …. Oh My!!!

What will happen in The Orange Bowl?  Are the Canes on the brink of a full implosion making a Bunting Salvation Game a possibility?  Yes, a possibility.  Poor Larry “Uncle Fester” Coker … like a certain diminutive AD, his physical appearance just does not serve him well in times of strife.  This would have been a rare “no pressure” game for Coach Bunting (at least it was until NCSU beat FSU that is!).  

Our previous column on “The Right Way” went platinum on a bullet within 24 hours.  A link on RedAndWhiteFromNCState and apparently elsewhere had our view counters spinning at hyper-speed.  It was an “edgy” topic and we expected some “negativity” but SURPRISE SURPRISE … BobLee was heralded for finally saying what many many many had always known but were reluctant to say.  “Reluctance” is not a Swagger trait.  It’s a subject we will definitely revisit again.

Before we revisit “A Royal Night … “, earlier this week we attended a Wake Forest event in Winston-Salem and witnessed a rarity … an NC-based ACC Athletics Director out in public without an armed guard or a disguise.  WFU’s Ron Wellman was working a crowd of quite happy Deacon partisans.  Life is good in Deacon-ville.


    The # of subscribers to SSays has tripled in the past two years.  Average viewership is 5X what it was after Year 1, six years ago.  This column about BobLee & A Baseball Socrates will, therefore, be new to most of you.  By the way … THANK YOU to all our loyal readers.

    Return with us now to the late 70s … Royals Stadium, Kansas City … a future Internet Legend, a future radio executive (no, not Him!,.its another guy you don’t know) and one of the nicest sports guys there’s ever been.

A Royal Night With A King  A Baseball Socrates 

Other than that eternal BS called “getting older” these are fine times for BobLee.  But, I had occasion recently to recall another pretty neat era in “the life & times of BobLee Swagger” … the late 70s … What triggered my memory is the start of “the MLB Playoffs”.  I got to enjoy “playoff fever” once.  In the late 70s, the last time the Kansas City Royals were any good … George Brett and Company.  And, wouldn’t you know it … BobLee was right in the middle of it.

I was Sales Executive for The Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City … the hotel with the waterfall.  One of my specialty markets was professional sports teams.  I had all the MLB, NFL, and NBA teams that came to KC staying with us.  It was commonplace to walk through our lobby and see Kenny Stabler, Reggie Jackson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, et al.  Of course we also had scads of groupies and “Baseball Annies” lounging about … but that’s another story for a different audience.

SSayers with excellent baseball trivia memories might recall Billy Martin calling George Steinbrenner and Reggie Jackson “a convicted liar” and “a born liar” … I was standing about 15’ from Billy when he said that on the hotel mezzanine … it was a wild scene!  I go to get on the elevator and off steps Howard Cosell!

My running buddies (pre Mizzus Swagger of course) were the staff of the various local clubs.  The Royals’ promotions guy, the Kings’ PR guy, and the Chiefs’ Asst PR guy and I used to hang out.  Having a Trader Vic’s in the hotel made me a popular fella.  Lots of different stories but one in particular for now.  Actually the Royals guy introduced me and the Mizzus.

   Because we took care of the Yankees we also handled any personnel they ever had come through town.  I get a call one day from Bill “Killer” Kane, the Yankees Traveling Secretary.  “BobLee I need a room for one of our scouts coming to town can he get the team rate?”  

“Sure Killer, what’s the name?”

Clyde King, he’ll check in on Wednesday and out on Sunday.”

Well, of course, being a fount of irrelevant knowledge, I knew Clyde King was from Goldsboro and had been a student at UNC in the late 40s prior to signing with the Dodgers and going on to a long successful career in baseball … few if any have served the game longer and more faithfully. I moved immediately to properly welcome my fellow downeaster.  I got a messa barbecue ribs from KC’s fabled Arthur Bryant’s and had’em waiting for Mr. King upon arrival.

Being maybe the most gracious gentleman God ever created, he called to thank me and we met in the coffee shop for a coca cola.  That began a 30+ year friendship I cherish as much as any I have.  He was in town as advance scout for the Yankees as they were playing the Royals the next week.  His job was to get uptodate on injuries.  Who was swinging a hot bat, which pitchers were in the groove, etc.  He would give that info to “the Boss” to aid the club in preparation.  Clyde invited me and my Kings’ buddy, Bobby Cohen, to go with him that night to the game. It was a night I’ll never forget.

Going to big league games was no biggie; but this WAS.  We sat right behind home plate about 12 rows up.  Clyde had a small transistor radio plugged into his ear and a small spiral notebook on his knee.  As the three of us chatted away about the usual “three guys at a ballgame” stuff; he would make scribbled notes and interrupt the conversation with such comments as “Willie Wilson is going to steal 2nd on the next pitch” … “this pitch will be a slider” … “they should throw Fred Patek breaking balls, he’s favoring his knee” … “Splittorff is having trouble with his change-up”.  He was watching a game about 20 levels beyond what Bob and I were seeing.  It was incredible.

For those not in the know, Clyde King managed Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Reggie Jackson with the Braves, Giants and Yankees.  Even cooler trivia … everyone knows Ralph Branca threw the pitch that Bobby Thomson hit to win the pennant for the Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers … maybe the most fabled home run in baseball.  Guess who was scheduled to pitch that day but came up with arm soreness … Clyde King!  For the past 30 years he has been Special Assistant to George Steinbrenner.  He has more “rings” than MJ, Shaq, and Bill Russell.  All of his grandchildren have World Champions rings!

Back to “that night”.  He was seeing the most intricate aspects of a baseball game, noting it for his records, and yacking away to us two yahoos without skipping a beat.  He would point out the subtle clues that only a career baseball man sees … how Willie Wilson positions his hands as he leads off … the way a pitcher rotates his arm as he grips the ball in his glove … if a player is back on his heels or up on his toes – it matters.

 Royals Stadium in June in 1978 was a great place to spend a summer evening anyway; but literally “at the knee of a baseball Socrates” made it a night this baseball Peter Pan will never forget.

Then there was the time Cohen had me serve as a judge for the Kings’ Glitter Girl tryouts … and the breakfast with George Brett and Mike Haynes talking about why Magic Johnson was so committed to be a great ballplayer.  Lots of cool stuff we can get into without ever mentioning Little Princes and goofy Chancellors and “Hot Seats” … kinda nice to take a break, huh?


 Sports Nicknames … Eugene Morris … Clarence Gaines … John Odom ???


   Miss Kitty owned The Longbranch.  Maybe she owned The Dodge House too … we don’t know.

    Since Kid Swagger has been at Mizzou, the Tigers are unbeaten at 5-0.  UNC WAS her 2nd choice … ahhhh, what might have been!

    What do I think of Mark Foley?  Disembowel him and castrate him in The Capitol Rotunda with a rusty oyster knife.  Do a sloppy job of it … take a long time … For those keeping score on “# of pedophilic perverts outed in the month of September”.  The score is Chapel Hill Public School System – 2 …. U.S. Congress – 1.   Personally I don’t care how many Democratic politicians have done “as bad or worse”.  I hold “my side” to a much higher standard than simply “not as bad as they are”.

    It’s a different species of political slimeball … NC House Speaker Jim Black is on track to set a standard for “sorry no-good lying sack of crap” that will likely stand for several decades.  Anyone who has ever stood within 10’ of this disgusting humanoid needs to be disinfected.  Black, his equally sleazy “special friend” Mere, and this Giddings jackass should be tarred, feathered and forced to crawl down Fayetteville Street behind 20 mules with very bad diarrhea. … when we get to the “cigar and stained blue dress” parts with Black and “Mere” I’m closing my eyes … MAJOR YUCK FACTOR!

   Want to e-mail BobLee?

[email protected]

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