/The Mets, the Royals and Charlie Parker, Linked by Autumn in New York

The Mets, the Royals and Charlie Parker, Linked by Autumn in New York

Photo

Duke Ellington, with bat, and members of his band played baseball in front of their segregated motel while touring Florida in 1955.

Credit
Charlotte Brooks/LOOK Magazine Photograph Collection, via Library of Congress

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After the Mets and the Royals had secured spots in the World Series last week, observers searched for connections between the teams. There seemed to be few.

But as the Series shifts from Kansas City to New York, it is following a well-trodden path, forged decades ago with the migration of some of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

Just as Kansas City once effectively served as a feeder system of ballplayers to New York, Kansas City’s hopping nightclub scene was the fertile ground that produced some of New York’s top musical acts, and baseball was a cherished pastime for many of them.

Count Basie’s big band helped make Kansas City’s nightclub district, around 18th and Vine Streets, swing before the…

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