New York and Kansas City: connected in baseball, connected in jazz

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New York Yankees fans of a certain age, or people who simply know a lot about Yankees history, know the primary connection between New York baseball and Kansas City: the old Arnold Johnson-owned Athletics serving as a defacto farm team for the 50s-60s Yankees. Or, more recently, the Pine Tar game or something.

Today the New York Times, searching for some other Kansas City-New York connections, finds a cool one: baseball and jazz. As in, both the tradition of jazz greats coming to New York from Kansas City and those jazz greats being super in to baseball.

Stuff about how Count Basie fielded a baseball team with his band members as players. They played against Duke Ellington’s band. Lester Young — who would later move from Kansas City to New York — pitched for Basie. Charlie Parker didn’t play, but he was a big fan of the Kansas City Monarchs.

Fun article with lots of cool pictures of jazz greats playing baseball. Something to pass the time between now and 8pm tonight.