KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dayton Moore, General Manager of the Kansas City Royals, announced on Wednesday that the team had "dug up—literally—one of the finest players of all time." The new, battered, skeletal face in Royals camp in Surprise, Ariz., belongs to none other than long-deceased former Pittsburgh Pirate Harold Joseph "Pie" Traynor. Traynor, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame who died in 1972, played third base for the Pirates for parts of eighteen seasons, including a starring role on their 1925 World Series championship team.
When asked about the acquisition of Traynor, Moore stated, "Our last acquisition, journeyman catcher Matt Treanor, created such a buzz among Royals fans and in the blogosphere that I wanted to bring someone else on board who could inspire similar interest." So, according to Moore, "I wanted to find one of Matt’s baseball-playing relatives. Dead or alive—it didn’t matter. I wanted to keep the Treanor chatter going as opening day approaches."
When pointed out by one reporter, however, that Traynor and Treanor "spell their last names differently and probably aren’t related," a clearly rattled Moore shot back that "a good idea is still a good idea." While re-composing himself, Moore pretended not to hear an inquiry as to whether "this Traynor’s wife was as hot as the other one’s," an obvious reference to Matt Treanor’s spouse, professional beach volleyball player and two-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor.
After the embarrassment subsided, Moore disclosed the details of Pie Traynor’s signing. The deal, he stated, was made with Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh for "cash considerations." Moore also divulged that he had received permission from the Pirates to inquire about Traynor’s availability.
Moore did not wish to disclose the details of Traynor’s removal from his casket and his subsequent re-animation. He did, though, have to dissuade reporters from removing a heavy, white canvas sheet that only partially covered what looked to be, according to some observers, "Victorian-era mechanical and electronic equipment." When pressed, Moore stammered nervously, "That’s, uh, for an unrelated, uh, players-only event."
He then glared at new Royals team physician Vincent Key, standing in the shadows behind Moore's podium. Suddenly, the wild-haired Key, who was wearing a stained lab coat and whose coal-smeared face showed a clear outline around his crazed, beady eyes marking where protective goggles had once been, whistled to a subordinate. The hunchbacked assistant, muttering under his breath, then wheeled the mysterious apparatus away from the increasingly nosy throng and into the next room.
After that cryptic exchange, many in the room grew more interested in the long-term ramifications of resuscitating long-dead ex-ballplayers. Should the team start looking for new dead talent? One member of the press suggested that the Royals, "as an educational and community service," if they decided to continue their "secret, ungodly pursuits," should concentrate on the "revival of former Negro League players to make up for historic injustices."
Trying to bring order back to the press conference, Moore said authoritatively, "What we did here isn’t a first. I was talking to legendary Royals scouting legend Art Stewart a few weeks back, and he reminded me that Traynor wouldn’t be the first re-animated corpse to take the field in the modern era." Moore then held up and patted a dusty, weathered journal whose cracked leather cover contained the embossed gold initials "AS." Inside appeared to be numerous hieroglyphic symbols and their phonetic translations.
According to Stewart, Moore said, "[Former Brave] Otis Nixon was simply an unwrapped mummy who wore a magic, life-giving amulet around his neck. Even though I was in the Braves organization for years, I never knew that. Just goes to show how great Art is."
Stewart was unavailable for comment on this story. According to his long-suffering secretary and possible secondary love interest, Mary Plainview, Stewart is currently on a "spiritual quest" in Central Asia. One AL scout, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said the "retired" Stewart was likely in negotiations with a yeti near Kathmandu rumored to have "a ‘plus plus’ corner outfield arm—we’re talking about a real cannon."
While necromancy and "Frankenstein Fever" have caught on in some corners of Royals fandom and within the clubhouse, others were less enthusiastic about the move. Said one source close to the team, who asked not to be named, "He’s 111 years old, and he’s been dead for nearly 40 years. It’s tough to make a comeback from something like that." Another added, "Sure, he’s in the Hall of Fame, but he was not an amazing player by any means. He only had a lifetime OPS+ of 107, and his fielding was subpar, and that’s while he was alive."
Some other skeptics continued this line of thought: Why, if the Royals had the power to revive the long-dead, couldn’t they have picked up somebody better? The head of former Red Sox great Ted Williams is, according to one rumor, "still kicking around the Venezuelan leagues."
Other dead 1920s-era Pittsburgh Pirates also seemed to be better fits for the Royals’ immediate needs. These included Hall of Fame outfielders Hazen Shirley "Kiki" Cuyler, and both Paul "Big Poison" and Lloyd "Little Poison" Waner. "If only that idiot [Moore] hadn’t been hung up on having two players named Treanor," added one disgruntled Royals fan upon hearing and reflecting upon the news.
Royals Manager Ned Yost, though at first unnerved by the sight of the wraith-like Traynor, was a bit more optimistic. "I saw the fire in his eye sockets. He’s still quite a physical presence, even when I spied him in his now-raggedy, worm-addled funeral clothes. In a Royals uniform, he’ll look the part." Yost also added that it was a "big positive" that Traynor had been buried rather than cremated. "It’s tough to ‘urn’ your way back into the big leagues, as they say."
The early 1970s also comprised a golden age for embalmers. Cemeteries and funeral homes, according to Yost, "didn’t have to follow those stupid EPA regulations they have nowadays. You could really preserve stuff back then."
When asked to comment about his new team, life, and situation, Traynor simply said, "Rwarrrrrrargggh!"