"Do you have a minor league baseball team in town?"
Living in Omaha my entire life, I take minor league baseball for granted. It's been there since I was born.
I visited a friend Wednesday who lives in Jefferson City, Missouri. His name is Allen. I was on my way to the Ozarks for a retreat, so it was the perfect opportunity to visit.
We jumped into his car so he could show me his old haunts. I was looking for a minor league stadium - maybe to snap a few photos and to get a story or two. But I was disappointed.
"This isn't really a baseball town," Allen said. "It's a Cardinals town, but we don't have a local minor league team. I think we had a team here a long time ago, but nobody really talks about it. "
When I got to my hotel room, I did a little research. According to Baseball Reference, Jefferson City hasn't had a minor league team since the Jefferson City Convicts (1902) and the Jefferson City Senators (1911) played there more than a hundred years ago.
No wonder it isn't a baseball city. Instead, Allen told me it is a high school football city. I love high football as much as the next guy, but how can a state capital not have a minor league team?
I pulled up to my hotel in the Ozarks late Wednesday night and checked into the Inn at the Grand Glaize. And almost on cue, I spotted numerous autographed pictures of Stan Musial hanging on the wall behind the desk clerk as she checked me in. I made it a point to find out the story behind them the next day.
After breakfast the next morning, I approached the clerk at the desk. "What's the story with the Musial pics?" I asked.
"Oh, he built this place in 1985."
The same year the Royals defeated the Cardinals in the World Series. I didn't bring that up. Don Denkinger is still a curse word in these parts.
Musial just died a year and a half ago, so I asked her if she or any of the current staff had ever met him. She said she hadn't because she thought he only owned the placed for a couple of years, but she wasn't sure.
"I met Bob Gibson at a function once, though," she said.
This really is Cardinals country.
The nearest minor league team I know about in this area is the Springfield Cardinals. They play in the Texas League, but are 90 miles south of here, and in the two days I've been in the Ozarks, I haven't heard a single mention of them.
It made me appreciate having a minor league team in my hometown all the more.