Decade Ends that Began with Ida Taking Bat to Brett

Was a time everything I wrote about iconic local jazz crooner Ida McBeth was music to her ears…

No mas.

Haven’t spoken with McBeth – who closes out the decade tonight at Jardine’s – since the dawn of the New Millenium, July of 2000 to be exact.

I was choking out five columns a week then at the Kansas City Star – a fairly active pace – and got a call one morning from a pissed off Ida. Her goal: to get her story out about how retired Royals star George Brett had majorly dissed her. My goal: to shepherd the next day’s column through the FYI copy desk. So I listened – without taking notes – while she ranted and raved about Brett’s boorish behavior and suggested we discuss it later.

When I called her back the next day, I was somewhat surprised to discover McBeth had not calmed one bit. So I carefully documented her fiery fury directed at the Kansas City baseball legend, then called Brett to get his version of events and/or his reaction to McBeth’s bashing.

Before I unleash that column, let me tell you what happened Thursday, July 20, 2000, the day my column ran in the newspaper.

My phone rang and on it was a very anxious, far different Ida than I’d spoken with the previous two days. Friends and business associates had warned her that dissing Sir George in this town was a no-no of the First Order. That there would likely be repercussions – gigs and thus income lost. McBeth had an autistic son to raise, she explained, and could not afford to suffer any such loss.

Now the freaky part.

Somehow – don’t ask me how – McBeth reprocessed what she had told me twice for publication and came to the conclusion that I had made the entire story up – that she’d never said it.

Of course she had.

Were I have to concocted such a tale from thin air, it would have been a journalistic sin the First Order. She would have likely marched straight into the editor and/or publisher’s office and demanded my head. Guess what? Were there any evidence that I had made it up, she’d have gotten it too. And I wouldn’t be here now reliving the moment. I spoke about it with Jardine’s owner at the time Greg Halstead. He didn’t get it either.

Life went on.

Anyway, as we close out the decade, return with me now to that moment in time and don’t miss Ida tonight and again Saturday night at Jardine’s. Hey, far be it from me to hold any grudges, she’s still taking care of that son and needs all the support and help she can get. A spare tire for that van of hers wouldn’t hurt either. So here it is:

Dateline: July 20, 2000 The Kansas City Star

“…Speaking of Ida McBeth getting no love…

She says she’s still smarting from a perceived snub by Royals Hall of Famer George Brett at a recent celebrity golf tourney in Lake Tahoe. McBeth performed for guests such as Brett, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.

Her take on Brett’s behavior at the bash?

“He just was not friendly. And I was trying to wave at him, and he just wouldn’t look at me. I don’t know why. I did the Plaza lighting ceremony with him – I was surprised – it really hurt my feelings. … I thought we was cool with each other, but obviously we aren’t.

“Maybe he thought I shouldn’t be there. Or maybe he looks his nose down on me because I’m not rich or anything. Like I’m in another class or something. But instead he ignored me. I mean, how can you ignore a big old band?”

Easy, counters Brett.

With 800 people, 75 or so celebrities, including former players Brett used to face in the batter’s box, it’s easy to miss connections.

“I’m sorry she feels that way,” Brett says. “I mean, give me a break. I waved to her when I came in, and she didn’t see me wave.

” … Just because you’re at a party and don’t speak to somebody doesn’t mean you’re mad at them. Am I supposed to go up there and interrupt her while she’s singing? I don’t understand.”
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8 Responses to Decade Ends that Began with Ida Taking Bat to Brett

  1. Anonymous says:

    Rainbow Man
    Give Brett a break. He is one of the most accessible celebrities in Kansas City and he gets approached ALL of the time. The fact that she is still grumbling after 10 years is laughable. Never interpret something as a social slight at an alcohol fueled party.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey, Rainbow Man, Ida is not the one repeating this story. It’s of note and isn’t tragic and happened ten years ago, but she didn’t bring it up.

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