KC plays the Blues … and reaches the major leagues

08/13/2014 12:00 PM

08/17/2014 7:18 PM

Paving the way for the A’s

The Kansas City Blues were a minor-league power in the late 1930s, and the city’s response to the team’s success helped pave the way for the Athletics to relocate from Philadelphia, according to reporter Sid Bordman, 90, who worked at The Star on a part-time basis for several years before he started a 34 1/2-year full-time career in 1954.

The Blues played at Municipal Stadium, but it was known by several other names — Muehlebach Field, when it opened in 1923; Ruppert Stadium, in honor of Yankees’ owner Col. Jacob Ruppert during 1937-43; then Blues Stadium. It was the home of the Blues and Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

When Kansas City was granted a major-league franchise after the 1954 season, Municipal Stadium needed a major overhaul. A second deck was added, lifting seating capacity from 17,500 to about 31,000, as workers worked three shifts for 90 straight days.

Nothing minor about this team

The 1939 Kansas City Blues, led by future Hall of Fame shortstop Phil Rizzuto, have been called one of the best minor-league teams of all time, and you’ll get no argument from Bordman.

Bordman loved baseball and he might have been the Blues’ biggest fan. One day in 1939, something happened that changed his relationship with the team.

Early Yogi-isms

Yogi Berra was a 17-year-old baseball prospect when he reported to Excelsior Springs, the spring home of the Kansas City Blues, in 1943. He was away from his native St. Louis for the first time, and assigned a room at The Elms with the team’s clubhouse boy, Bordman.

Berra went on to a Hall of Fame career as a player and manager, but his first impression as a professional player wasn’t so favorable.

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