The following is a guest post by Clam Simmons, a librarian living in New England. Clam is not my pen name or persona. Clam is clam, a venerable Royals historian of the old school. Clam is on twitter @orangehunchback. He recently contacted me about writing a series of pieces about the 1994 Royals. These are their stories.
Brian McRae Connects The Dots For Royals Nation
Hold on to your Tony Pena Jr. bobblehead dolls, Royals Nation is about to take one on its Balbonies: in 1994 Hal McRae invited Kurt Cobain to spring training. Shockingly, Cobain showed up and did some middle relief for two weeks. Cobain’s impact on team was so strong that when Kurt Cobain took his life McRae dedicated the season to the memory of the lead singer. I recently had the chance to meet up with Royals Legend Brian McRae to discuss Kurt Cobain’s impact on the 1994 Royals. We went halfsies on a scone at the Panera Bread in Westport. I could not eat it; the interview was too heady. In four hours B-Mac ate the entire scone and explained to me how the rock martyr set the tone for the 1994 Royals, a squad that tricked Royals Nation into that false hope known as postseason, a hope that was destroyed when the soulless trillionaire who rules the world made a phone call to Bud Selig from a missile silo in Pender, Nebraska.
CS: B-Mac when I say Kurt Cobain…what comes to mind?
BM: Mickey Tettleton.
CS: Mickey Tettleton? The catcher?
BM: Let me explain… we were playing a game against the Tigers and Kurt had just pitched a scoreless inning of work with his dog nasty, butt-ugly, slider. Everybody thought he was getting iced down or playing ping-pong with Chico Lind in the clubhouse but the next inning, in the middle of the inning Cobain runs across the diamond straight and dives into the Tiger’s dugout.
CS: So Kurt Cobain tried to fight all of the Tigers?
CS: I understand your dad took Mr. Cobain’s death pretty hard.
BM: We all did. When we found out, my dad called a meeting up at the parking lot of the Truman Sports Complex. It was three in the morning and my dad put on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on his car stereo. All of us started moshing. It was a great release for the team. Although it did get kinda violent.
CS: Aren’t all moshpits?
BM: Yeah, but Vince Coleman accidentally broke Mike Magnante’s jaw. Mike didn’t take it personal, we were all dealing out pain. I didn’t take it personal when Hipolito Pichardo kinda broke my nose.
CS: Did anyone see it coming? I mean at spring training did Kurt Cobain seem suicidal or to have unhealthy habits …
BM. You mean drugs?
CS: Yeah, I guess...
BM: Everyone had theories. Some players said he took one kind of drug when he pitched and then another drug when he was sitting in the dugout.
CS: And did you believe the rumors?
BM: I mean the guy would do outfield sprints for an hour and a half, in denim. That’s not normal. No one trains in jeans. Sometimes there’d be entire games where Kurt would stare at Kevin Appier the whole time.
CS: He was staring at the Ape?
BM: Yes and tears rolled out of his eyes.
CS: They were close?
BM: No, it was a one-way street.
CS: Why the staring?
BM: I don’t know… one time we were doing a group counseling session and Gary(Gaetti) said that Kurt had told him that his relationship with Ape was spiritual.
CS: Can you tell me a little bit about the speech where your father (Hal McRae’s) dedicated the season to Kurt?
BM: That’s easy.
BM: Two reasons. One, Rico Rossy laminated the speech and gave us all copies. Two, it happened right after the mosh pit.
CS: What did he say?
BM: I was getting to that...when "Smell Like Teen Spirit" ended and some of us stopped bleeding, my dad got on the hood of his car and said, "this year that K.C. logo above the brim, this year, it stands for Kurt Cobain."