Boys of Summer: 1959

Topeka Daily Capital
October 4, 1959

When the Dodgers were kicking the ball around in the third inning Thursday against the White Sox, it recalled the classic play Solly Hemus once engineered in the midst of similar disaster.

Hemus was at the plate with a runner on third when the catcher lost a low pitch and started looking frantically in all directions. Hemus pointed toward a distant dugout and said to the catcher, “Over there.”

As the catcher raced toward the dugout, Hemus waved home his teammate from third. The catcher discovered the trick — and the ball — too late. The runner scored while the ball lay within arm’s length of home plate.

Walter Johnson once hit Eddie Collins in the leg with one of his famed fireballs, and Collins dropped like he’d been shot. Johnson was genuinely concerned, and even helped Collins as he limped, painfully, to first.

On Johnson’s next pitch, Collins, running without a trace of a limp, stole second.

Trying to trick the opposition is old stuff in baseball, although it seldom works. I recall one occasion when it backfired. I’ve told this story often, but I still regard it as a classic. Continue reading

Kansas Transplants Roots Run Deep

Topeka Capital-Journal
Jan 29, 1999

Kansas Native Sons and Daughters are getting together again this weekend, and it reminds me that I have a lot in common with the man generally considered to be greatest Kansan of all.

For one thing, both Dwight D. Eisenhower and I were in uniform during World War II, and for another, neither of us is a native son of Kansas. I was born in western Oklahoma; he was born in Baja Oklahoma. Also, he probably would share my feelings that it’s no big deal to belong to a club when everyone in it qualified by accident.

I came close to being a native son of Kansas. My dad was born in the state, in Miltonvale, and my mother in Nebraska. If they had met sooner, before both of them drifted into Oklahoma, it is likely I would have been a Jayhawker, rather than an Okie. I’m not sure how I should feel about the way things turned out. Continue reading

Among those whose dreams drowned in 1951 flood – Topeka Owls

Topeka Capital-Journal – July 11, 2001

It is not my intent to make light of the events that followed what historians call the worst chapter in Topeka’s history — 50 years ago this week — but there was some humor in that disastrous flood. One piece of it is a story that still makes me laugh, when I probably should weep.

It happened in the old Topeka Daily Capital newsroom at 8th and Jackson, when water 15 to 20 feet deep covered North Topeka, and nobody yet knew how bad it really was.

Some background: When the flood hit here, the Topeka Owls were in first place in the Class C Western Association pennant race and were drawing good crowds. Their ballpark was in North Topeka, near US-24 highway, east of where the China Inn is today.

Owls’ owner Link Norris was a happy man, because he was looking at his best season financially, which would make up for some that hadn’t gone so well. But suddenly, the flood turned his world upside down. Continue reading

Kansas Transplants and Native Sons

Dick Snider
Jan. 29, 1999

Kansas Native Sons and Daughters are getting together again this weekend, and it reminds me that I have a lot in common with the man generally considered to be greatest Kansan of all.

For one thing, both Dwight D. Eisenhower and I were in uniform during World War II, and for another, neither of us is a native son of Kansas. I was born in western Oklahoma; he was born in Baja Oklahoma. Also, he probably would share my feelings that it’s no big deal to belong to a club when everyone in it qualified by accident.

I came close to being a native son of Kansas. My dad was born in the state, in Miltonvale, and my mother in Nebraska. If they had met sooner, before both of them drifted into Oklahoma, it is likely I would have been a Jayhawker, rather than an Okie. I’m not sure how I should feel about the way things turned out. Continue reading

Remembering Peggy of the Flint Hills

Topeka Capital-Journal

June 16, 2000

Zula Bennington Greene never was sure where her given name originated. She would say her best guess was that her mother read a novel that had a character named Zula in it and gave it to her. That was in 1895 when she was born on a farm in Missouri.

Her first name never really mattered, because she became famous all over Kansas and beyond for the “Peggy of the Flint Hills” columns she wrote for the Topeka Daily Capital and The Topeka Capital-Journal. She wrote her first one in 1933 and continued them until her death 12 years ago this week at the age of 93.

Continue reading