Guy Hansen is not a household name but the former Royals coach has a sense of humor and good stories to tell in his new book “A Baseball Guy”, written with Tom Gresham.
When he was the pitching coach in the early 90s, Kansas City writers enjoyed hearing his stories about his world-class tap dancing mom, his stuttering dad who could sing, and how Guy was a professional golfer before getting back into baseball including a time when he was the youngest scout and the Major League Scouting Bureau.
One publisher liked the stories but said there wasn’t enough. Another also liked the stories but didn’t think Guy Hansen had a big enough name.
Years later, his dad gave him the final kick to move forward. “The last word that came out of my dad’s mouth before he basically became a vegetable was ‘book’. I thought, ‘I’ve got to do this damn thing,” Hansen said.
The pitching guru can also tell funny stories about non-baseball happenings, like when he got out of a parking ticket. “I didn’t like carrying a radar gun but you had to have it if you wanted to work for the scouting bureau,” Hansen said. Hansen had an MIT genius calibrate it low instead of the higher numbers most scouts get for pitchers. One day a cop pulled him over and told Hansen he was going 65. “I knew if I could talk my way into opening the briefcase and not get shot that I would prove I’m right,” Hansen said.
The coach and the cop both took turns with the radar guns and what the cop had as 65, Hansen had as 57. The officer let Hansen go with a message: “Just get out of my territory and never come back to Arizona.”
While he served two stints as Royals pitching coach, another as bullpen coach and was a minor league coach for years, his greatest contribution was as a scout. High school pitcher Bret Saberhagen was Hansen’s to scout for three years but some changes in responsibilities moved him a couple of blocks away and gave Saberhagen to another scout.
Saberhagen jammed his shoulder trying to dunk a basketball which hurt his velocity leading scouts to give up on him. But not Hansen, even if he wasn’t supposed to be watching. “I went incognito to a couple of games with some wigs and different clothes,” Hansen said.
Hansen saw Saberhagen hit 90 MPH and learned from Bret’s dad that his arm had loosened up. He turned in Saberhagen to the Royals, although it cost him a friendship with Art Lilly, the Kansas City scout who was now supposed to be scouting Saberhagen. “He went from one of my favorite golf friends to becoming not my friend. He became so pissed off that I saw a player in his territory that he basically disowned me. But I had to turn in Saberhagen.”
It paid off when Saberhagen led the Royals to the 1985 World Series and pitched a complete game shutout in Game 7.
Royals fans can thank A Baseball Guy for that.