The family and I went on yet another baseball-themed long-weekend trip, this time to beautiful Kansas City. And like every family trip we've ever been on, the weather was really hot.
Yeah, it's summer, and I'm fully aware that Kansas City knows how to do hot, but man, that heat was something else. Additionally, the whole area is suffering a devastating drought. So even though the lack of humidity makes for a dry heat, it also allows for the temperatures to raise to record numbers. Whew.
The dry conditions are remarkable. The ditches along the roads have no grass or wildflowers, only short stubbles of kindling. It looks like an errantly-thrown lit cigarette would cause serious problems.
Oh, and the heat also caused some engine trouble both on the way there and on the way home. Nothing serious, just an inconvenience. But not really fun when we were excited to reach our destination.
On the recommendation of a tweet from the Star-Tribune's La Velle E. Neal III, we decided to give Oklahoma Joe's a try. We went to the "original" location, which is attached to a really tiny gas station that, for some reason, also had a huge selection of frolfing (frisbee-golfing) discs.
It was two o'clock in the afternoon, and we still had to stand in line about 45 minutes.
It. Was. Worth. It.
I ordered a "Z-man" sandwich: brisket, melted smoked provolone, a few huge onion rings, and sauce on a kaiser roll. Oh. Emm. Gee! It was the best sandwich I've ever eaten. My husband, who is pretty selective about barbecued ribs, just loved them. The fries were very good as well. The coleslaw is fair, but I'm pretty fussy about that. The dirty rice was meh (my husband makes it way better).
I've heard that the "burnt ends" of brisket are amazing, but, alas, they were out.
Add this place to your bucket list.
Speaking of bucket lists, visiting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has been on mine for awhile. We've been to KC a number of times, and this time I demanded (well, ok, asked nicely) to allow time to visit.
It's a small-ish museum, but it's packed with lots of great stuff. And while the hardships that African-American players faced during segregation are discussed, the talent of these great players is the focus.
The best part was the "Field of Legends," bronze statues of the Negro Leagues superstars.
I enjoyed my experience there and I'm proud that I can cross this off my bucket list.
There is also a Jazz museum next door, but, regrettably, we didn't have time to visit.
Speaking of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Saturday's Royals/Twins game was played in its honor. You may have seen the throwback uniforms the teams wore: the Royals in Kansas City Monarchs uniforms and the Twins in St. Paul Gophers (referred to in the museum as the "St. Paul Black Gophers") uniforms. The St. Paul Gophers weren't officially part of the Negro Leagues; the team dissolved before the league was formed. There were no official Negro League teams from Minnesota.
In addition, the stadium giveaway was an awesome bobblehead doll of Buck O'Neil. Buck was a former KC Monarchs player and manager, the first African-American MLB coach, a great ambassador for the Negro Leagues and all of baseball, and a great Royals fan.
Here he is:
We only wanted to go to one game, so we chose Saturday's. We wanted to have an evening around the campfire on Friday, which, due to the drought, turned out to be an evening around the radio.
We tailgated a bit before the game, which was fun, even though it was pretty hot. We met some nice college-aged Royals fan guys. I've always liked Royals fans; they're quite friendly.
As far as the actual game: the Twins were terrible. The Royals were not.