The Royals Radio Network is comprised of 86 affiliates and stretches across eight states. In this recurring series (previous features listed below at the bottom of the page) Royals Review attempts to give each affiliate its proper airing, celebrating the regional reach and heritage of Royals baseball. In a sporting era corrupted by the endless quest for the big money, baseball on the radio is a decidedly low-stakes, low-tech venture. Let it always lay hidden like a strength in the backyards of the mind.
Miles from KC: 68
Other than the flagship - 610 AM - the Royals only have seventeen radio affiliates in Missouri. By way of comparison, the Cardinals have over thirty affiliates in the Show Me State, including a number deep in what should be true blue Royal territory (Joplin, St. Joseph, Nevada, most especially). No team is going to strike it rich by claiming half of interior Missouri, considering that, if you subtract the Kansas City and St. Louis metros (accepted as givens for both teams) you're only talking about three to four million people, which if you divide in two isn't a huge number. Nevertheless, as a pride thing and as a marginal revenue opportunity, reclaiming western Missouri wouldn't be a bad idea. Or, the Royals could just ask for more taxpayer money. Maybe Selig can promise the All-Star Game the week before the vote... again.
One of those proud Missouri affiliates, sadly close to the Cardinals-leaning Southwestern corner of the state, is Butler, a charming hamlet of 4,200 souls, a sizeable majority of which is female (77 men for every 100 women). Back when the Royals were on 810 WHB, the Butler affiliate seemed somewhat superfluous (along with about half of the other affiliates as well, given this map) given 810's reach, but with 610 as the primary signal, I'm not so sure the Royals won't need a little local bounce from 1530 KMAM-AM in Butler.
According to the Butler Chamber of Commerce, Butler is "The Electric City", thanks to its status as "the first city west of the Mississippi to have electric power". Living, as I do in Iowa, I'm quite familiar with "the first ____ west of the Mississippi" formulation, where it's especially ridiculous. I wonder how long its been since that distinction really meant something to anybody. 1920? 1880? I don't know. Still, there you have it. Butler spits in the face of Scranton and lets the world know, it is The Electric City.
But the Butler Chamber doesn't stop there. Far from it, in fact. The Chamber also notes:
Aside from the fact that that second part after the comma makes no sense, I love how that is one sentence. But who wants to talk about Bleeding Kansas again? I don't.
Horribly inappropriate and really not a legacy to be proud of ("we were pro-slavery terrorists!"), but still a sweet shirt.
Noted writer Robert A. Heinlein was born in Butler in 1907. Best known for his 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, Heinlein, along with Ernest Hemingway, is one of two people mentioned in Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" to also live in a Royals Radio affiliate. Strange Land became a cross-over hit of sorts, winning praise in the science fiction quarters Heinlein was already established in, as well as becoming associated with the 1960s counter-culture. Heinlein's second best known novel is 1959's Starship Troopers, which is either a celebration of fascist militarism, or a criticism of it. Of course, Starship Troopers was also made into a movie, which has been similarly confusing to critics. Butler celebrated the Heinlein Centennial in 2007, which also featured a weekend of events in Kansas City. (With a nice writeup in the WSJ here.) The Butler Public Library has a Heinlein Collection, but it is not clear just what of note it contains.
While Butler is the anchor of Bates County (pop. 16,754), the metropolis also serves nearby satellites in Adrian (pop. 1582) and Rich Hill (pop. 1317) most notably. No other cities in the county have over 300 people. Just outside of Butler lies the Bates County Museum which has been "a very popular attraction for both tourists and the local population," and "a delight to visitors from every state in the union". Really? I want proof someone from Delaware walked through those doors! Unfortunately, the official bird of the county is the Northern Cardinal.
Surprisingly, tiny Butler is the proud birthplace of a former Major Leaguer, left-handed relief pitcher, Stan Wall (stats). Drafted by the Dodgers as an eighteen year old in 1969, Wall reached the big club in 1975, throwing sixteen innings for a very good Dodgers team that finished second in the old NL West. Wall posted a 1.69 ERA that year, good for an ERA+ of 202, the best mark in both categories of his career. In '76 the Dodgers again finished in second, winning 92 games but nevertheless left in the dust by the Reds. Wall appeared in 31 games that year, and posted a 3.60 ERA, which was actually slightly below the league average. In 1977 the Dodgers would finally break through, winning the NL West with a 98-64 record. Sadly, Butler's golden child would not be part of LA's pennant winning team (which lost to the Yankees in the WS) as Wall's last game was a July 3, a 10-7 victory over the Giants. Wall faced three batters in the eighth inning of that game, retiring two and allowing a hit, lowering his ERA to 5.34. Wall got off to a rough start that season however, and 5.34 was the lowest his ERA ever got.
Wall never appeared again in a big league game, and ended up with a career 3.86 ERA in 98 innings. Wall faced Cesar Geronimo and Rowland Office more than anyone else, allowing .300+ averages to both men in 8 matchups. However, Wall owned Pete Rose, retiring the Hit King six of seven times. In a 2003 story by Mike Kiley in the Chicago Sun-Times, a bitter Eric Karros, who had left the Dodgers, used Wall as an example of obscurity:
Karros didn't start the fire.
Previous Affiliate Profiles:
Storm Lake, Iowa
Garden City, Kansas
Belle Fourche, South Dakota
Nebraska City, Nebraska
Mount Pleasant, Iowa