A little about Royals Homer..Royals Homer is a retired coach and MLB scout who owns a World Series Ring and has forgotten more about baseball than most can hope to learn…
A baseball story for you old guys of the 1960`s,
By Royals Homer…
In 1965 I was finishing a master’s degree at dear old Kansas State University and wearing several coaching hats at the same time. I was the freshman coach at KSU and the baseball coach of the post 17 American legion team in the summer. I also was signed 2 years prior to scout for the Detroit Tigers. As the American legion coach I was able to observe high school kids in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. During that time the 3 best prospects in the state were Bill Russell from Pittsburg,Ks, Jr. Riggins,out of Centralia who played for Marysville, and Ron Schueler from Hays,Ks .There was a fourth, who we will call Mike for the time being, from Topeka who played for Van T Chevrolet. Russell signed with the Dodgers, Schueler with the Braves and Riggins went to K.U. and signed with the Cardinals after playing football at the mistake on the Kaw. There were a few that I recommended to KSU and actually played there the best being jimmy Schaefer and his pitching buddy Wade Johnson both from Salina. So in the summer of 65 I set my sights on Mike the 6`5“ 190 lb. right hander fromTopeka.
A little about Mike:I first saw him in probably 1963 as a 15 year old and was impressed with his size and velocity of his pitches. We played them, Van T, each of the next 2 years and I filled out a scouting form on Mike in 1964. I also arranged for the KSU Varsity coach to come to a game against Van T in which Mike started for them. Unfortunately, Mike threw everything over the middle of the plate and between some lucky hits and a few really scorched ones we beat him 10-0. I couldn’t believe it because Mike was clearly better than that. The next year Mike put it all together and was picked to play in the Kansas Am. Legion East-West all-star game. As luck would have it my catcher was chosen for the game and caught Mike. About the third inning Mike threw a pitch through the webbing of my catcher’s mitt. I was given the job of repairing the mitt and was able to do so the next inning. My catcher told me,”Coach his ball feels like catching a shot put”
The next day I reported to tiger brass what I had seen most recently and my supervisor drove in from Missouri to conduct negotiations with Mike and his brother who was serving as his financial advisor.
Here is the nitty gritty: Mike and his brother agreed to a $50,000.signing bonus.
Now for the Rub: Ray called me and informed me the Tigers fiscal year started Oct.1, and there was no money for any bonus until that date. He asked me to call Mike and explain that we would pay him on Oct. 1st. I called Mike and explained the situation to him and he agreed.
Now for the kicker: Several days later I picked up the Topeka Daily Capitol and turned to the sports page. I was shocked to read that Mike had signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. At the same time my phone started ringing and the Tigers wanted me to find out how big a bonus Mike got? I called Mike, congratulated him on signing and asked him how much he got. He told me $15,000. My jaw dropped and I said, didn’t you understand that we were going to pay you $50,000. on Oct. 1st. He replied,” Yes sir but the Cardinals have always been my favorite team.”
When I told the Tigers that story they were doubled up in laughter.
Mike then spent the next two years between Marine Corps reserve duty and minor leagues. 3 years later he won 10 games for the cardinals but walked over 100 batters. He got traded to the Orioles.
With the Orioles he won 16 games and then got traded straight up for Reggie Jackson to the A`s.
With the A`s Mike won 20 games, then he went free agent.
As a free agent Mike reportedly got a million $ signing bonus with the Yankees.
Side note:I got a memo from the Tigers explaining that they thought Mike had learned the value of a $.
Mike pitched well with the Yankees and eventually went free agent to the Red Sox. No idea what kind of a bonus he got with them.
That year the Yanks and the Red Sox ended in a tie and needed a playoff game to decide the division winner. Mike was leading late in the game but unfortunately gave up the game winning home run to Bucky Dent.
Audience question: Do you know Mike’s last name yet?
Last chapter: I watched Mike in one of his last games of his career when he was pitching for the Mets. He got beaten by the Cubs that day and never won another game. However, for his career he won 183 games and another 13 in playoff and World Series competition.
The big right hander is none other than Mike Torrez the current general manager of the Newark Bears an independent team.