Royals manager Ned Yost played in the Mets’ minor-league organization, so the World Series naturally led him to recall some stories from those days.
One of Yost’s stops was with the Mets’ Class AA club in Jackson, Miss., where Yost also practiced taxidermy as a winter job. His former occupation has been well documented. Yost is still an avid hunter and raises deer in the offseason.
For most of his life, Yost has been at his best when deciding things on his own. When he was 16, he killed a pheasant and took it to a taxidermist to have it stuffed. It would take six months and cost $65, the man told the young hunter, and that didn’t seem right. When Yost looked into it, he learned he could stuff a pheasant himself for less than $2, finishing in a day. So he took up the trade, starting with ducks and other waterfowl, graduating eventually to deer and coyotes, mastering the art of caping and fleshing, tracing the eyes and lips, then stretching the flesh over a mold for the final stitching.
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A taxidermy studio in Mississippi hired him during the winter months, and in time, Yost eventually opened his own shop, behind a relative’s bowling alley.
“When we were really rocking, we were doing two in a day,” says Yost, who didn’t give up the hobby until 2003, when Milwaukee hired him as manager.
Yost retold that story on Tuesday before Game 1 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium.
“My uncle ran a bowling alley there in Jackson, Mississippi. And they had a storage room out back. And that was my winter job. We’d go deer hunting and we’d do taxidermy in the back of the bowling alley back there. It was a lot of fun.
“The bowling alley is still there, but there’s nothing in the back but old bowling balls and old pins there, I think.”