It’s been over four years since our last Better Know a Commenter entry. The progenitor of the original idea, Josh “Old Man” Duggan, is off pursuing his dream and no longer writes for these digital pages. But it was always a good idea: shining a spotlight on some of our regular commenters, who are almost always fascinating individuals.
We’re bringing it back. This week, the subject is jayhawkkirk. More will come. An entire new generation of commenters has risen in the past four years. I hope you enjoy.
Royals Review commenters come from all walks of life, but we’re all here because we are Royals fans. How did you become a Royals fan yourself?
I guess you could say I popped out of the womb with a Royals hat. That would be wrong of course, but you could say it. I grew up in a small town just north of Topeka in a time before cable TV, so my first memories of the Royals are listening to Fred and Denny on the radio. I think my grandfather probably got me started on that, he often had the radio tuned to 580 and listened to the games. One of my earliest TV memories was watching the 1976 ALCS, Game 5. My father was astonished by what could politely be called passion, and would more realistically called rage when (he who shall not be named) hit that damn home run. It took a LOT of good behavior in 1977 before I was allowed to watch that year’s playoffs.
I bet your “passion” came in handy in 1985 (although not so much 1980). How has your memories of those World Series teams colored the more recent playoff run, if at all?
1980 was so full of hope. We (and I use “we” because I wasn’t the jaded individual I am now) finally crushed the Damn Yankees after seemingly decades of futility and it felt so good. And then...the Phillies. And it wasn’t even like the Royals played badly. But Frank and Willie didn’t and that seemed to just not quite be enough. The Phillies were just the better team that year. I cried a little, but I was an almost grown 11 years of age at that point, so I did not go into a rage. 1985 was a different kind of year. That year now reminds me more of the 2014-2015 seasons in that it seemed you could never count the Royals out. Coming back from back to back 3-1 series records? C’mon! Who does that? (Nobody apparently.)
But saying that, 2014 and 2015 were completely special seasons. 2014 was purely magical, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that fully expected Salvy to somehow hit a pitch a foot out of the strike zone past the infield to score Alex. 2015 felt like destiny. I think I took more time to enjoy each moment during the more recent run because I had let disappointment ruin the overall enjoyment during the 70’s and 80’s.
What drew you to the Royals Review community, and how long have you been kicking around these digital avenues?
According to SB Nation I joined in June of 2017, but I know I was reading / lurking during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. I missed most of the glory days of Will, but I’ve gone back and read some of his masterpieces to educate myself.
Your username, jayhawkkirk, includes a reference to your Kansas Jayhawks. Why the username, and what is your connection to the school?
Quite simply I used it because it’s my Twitter handle. But while I didn’t pop out of the womb with a Royals hat, I might very well have with a KU hat. As a child I was extremely keen on history, it was the only subject that would keep my attention for very long. Learning about the original Jayhawkers and the battle to keep Kansas a Free State was fascinating to a young, impressionable Kirk. My connection to the school is as deep as one can be without actually attending. I even wrote a book in the 4th grade about my friends and I playing basketball for the Jayhawks. We were only 6th in the country at the time, but I loved our chances in the tournament! Fun fact, Kirk has never actually enrolled in KU (yet.) Most of my friends did attend KU at some point in their lives, but I’ll probably wait until I’m an old man and start attending random classes just for the knowledge.
So if you didn’t attend KU, what did you decide on for your education? Did you ever consider—gasp—K-State or Mizzou?
Oy, that’s a long story... I really will try to keep it brief. I was actually enrolled in Colorado State after graduating HS. Had my dorm assigned, my classes picked out and everything. But alas, I had no funds. It was always understood that when it was time for me to go to college, the money would be there. It was not. I hadn’t completed any financial aid paperwork, did not apply for scholarships. So I didn’t go. I spent a year “living life,” which in 1987 and early 1988 meant living in a series of crappy apartments and houses with sketchy roommates and an ever changing list of fast food jobs.
That fall I enrolled in Washburn as a double major in Art and Theater. After two years there, my mentor left to go back east, I lost any pretense that I could make a living in the theater, and more importantly, got married. Somehow she talked me into moving to Manhattan. So yes, I did attend K State. That was horrible for me. I did not like the “education” classes I took (deciding I should be a teacher), I hated Manhattan, and I wasn’t very fond of my wife right then. We separated, I moved back to Topeka, moved from chicken and burgers to pizza for my employment, and took a couple classes through Highland and Allen County. We reconciled, she moved back to Topeka, I took employment in maintenance for apartment complexes, and we had a baby. Turns out, we still weren’t very good at being married to each other so we divorced.
Since then, I’ve never gone back to college. For those feeling sad about that story, please understand she and I are much better friends now than we ever were when married, and I couldn’t have asked for a better co-parent to my oldest. Oh, and one other thing. I’ll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I consider attending that university in Columbia.
If any of us were to run into you at a baseball game, how would we know it’s you by appearance?
Just look for Eric Clapton. I’ve no idea why, but I’ve been told I look like him more times than would seem believable. It’s probably the scraggly mostly grey beard and glasses. Other than that, look for a guy with a pony tail out the back of his KU hat and a battered Gordon shirshey.
Kids, pets, spouse?
I have a total of three sons. The oldest is making his way in Colorado and seems quite happy and content. Which is all as a parent you can really hope for. The other two are teens, both are brilliant, talented, and will be attending Topeka High next year. I’m very much looking forward to having them at the same school for the next two years! I also have a furry baby, Logan who’s a mix of Rottweiler, German Shepherd, and maybe some lab. My wife/partner and I will be not celebrating our 18th year of marriage come May. We already celebrated our 21st year together in January. She’s got a considerably larger twitter footprint than I. If you thought I was political, whew! Check out @MudPieMary if curious.
Imagine you’ve just started a new job and your coworkers ask you to tell them a fun fact about yourself or an interesting hobby. What would you say?
I taught myself how to juggle in High School. (It did NOT help me get a girlfriend.) I also worked at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival for a few years (not as a juggler.)
Did you ever learn to juggle more than three at a time? I could never do more than three no matter how hard I tried.
That’s a great question. No, dammit I can’t figure it out. I can barely juggle two with my left hand, and can’t do two in each. Five purely defeats me!
Glad we’re on the same page there. On your Twitter profile page, you list yourself as a “recovering artist.” What does that mean?
Before I started having more kids, I would often spend my evenings drinking whiskey, listening to music too loudly, and painting. I’ve never sold a painting and never wanted to. At the time, it was an outlet for whatever emotions I was feeling that night. I gave some paintings away to friends, kept some, and repainted others. Most have stayed with me and are hanging in various areas of my home now. After the current teens came along, there was less money for whiskey, less ability to play loud music, and less time to paint. Sometimes I still get the urge, but it hasn’t been enough yet to set up an area in my current home. (The lighting in my basement is terrible and I don’t feel like working on that particular project yet.)
I’m always impressed when somebody has visual art talent. What kinds of things did you paint, and what was your preferred medium?
Let’s not get carried away, I don’t have much talent. It’s just something I’ve done. My paintings (when described kindly) would be considered abstract. I like to play with colors and see if they combine well. Sometimes they do, some really, really don’t. In my short time taking art classes, I focused on basic design and printmaking. I loved printmaking, but it’s difficult and expensive to have as a hobby. When I started painting fairly regularly, we were renovating the house I was living in, so I had lots of spare plywood and insulation sheeting. That’s what I used for my “canvas”. I use oil paints as I prefer the texture to acrylic. Especially when combined with various textures of leftover material.
What is the most interesting piece of media (book, podcast, movie, show, game, etc.) you’ve consumed recently?
I’ve been watching older HBO series lately and found The Wire to live up to the hype, although I didn’t really care for the last year. I also just finished re-watching Deadwood. Duggan was absolutely correct to steer me to that one. But to answer honestly, the most “interesting” was Watchmen. I was floored by that one.
What Royals Reviewer would you be most interested to meet in person? Why?
Kevin of course! Who doesn’t want to meet the infamous “Kevin.” I’m sure I’d love to meet Phil, because who wouldn’t? And I’m sure Sterlingice and I would get along great. But most interested to meet in person? Gotta be Hokius. I’ve watched his videos, and while the CGI is fairly impressive, I still don’t buy that he’s actually human. Just kidding! We’ve developed a pretty decent online friendship and it would be an honor to meet him in person.