During the couple’s three road trips, they visited almost every state in the U.S. Jim played on more than 100 different courses, and his reward for that effort was visiting just as many art galleries, since Mary Ann doesn’t golf.
Having been RVers for the last five years, the Kaats are becoming quite familiar with the open road. “Our latest trip was a real adventure,” says Jim. “We left Florida about the end of last May, and returned just before Thanksgiving. We traveled 10,400 miles in our 36-foot Itasca Meridian, and visited 27 states and 60-plus golf courses. We hit every state where we have relatives, and saw every brother, sister, son, daughter, grandchild, niece and nephew we could find.”
Later this year they will embark on their fourth cross-country outing. This adventure will take them to visit family and friends in New Jersey, Michigan, Wisconsin and California before heading back to Florida. On their maiden RV trek, they traveled from New York City, through New England, then south to Florida. The second trip saw them starting in the Big Apple, then going cross-country to Yosemite National Park and California, finally returning to Florida via a southern route.
A left-handed golfer who putts right handed, James Lee Kaat, whose nickname is Kitty, won 283 games during a quarter-century of pitching baseballs in the big leagues. Though he had the numbers to warrant it, he was never inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The 6-foot, 4-inch pitcher, originally from Holland, Michigan, started his career with the Washington Senators organization in 1957, making it to the big leagues in 1959. The team moved to Minnesota a few years later and he remained with the Twins through 1973. He then pitched for the Chicago White Sox from 1973-75; Philadelphia Phillies, 1976-79; New York Yankees, 1979-80, and St. Louis Cardinals, 1980-83.
Jim’s pitching stats are impressive: He appeared in three All Star games; won 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards; led the American League in shutouts (5) in 1962; led the American League in games started in 1965 (42) and 1966 (41); led the American League in wins (25) and innings pitched (304 2/3), complete games (19), strikeouts to walks (3.73), and batters faced (1,227) in 1966. Though he produced some pretty impressive statistics during the 1966 season, he still did not win the Cy Young Award for the best pitcher in the major leagues. That year, Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers went 27-9 with a 1.73 earned run average.
After his playing days were over, Jim spent 21 years as a play-by-play announcer before retiring in 2006 after 50 seasons in professional baseball.
These days, Jim is recording other impressive stats, like a five handicap on the golf course. He plays a lot of golf, and has numerous fond memories from his travels. Some of his favorite courses include Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, Seminole Golf Course in Juno Beach, Florida, and Cypress Point in Monterey, California, the famed Augusta National in Georgia, Erin Hills near Milwaukee, Sutton Bay in Agar, South Dakota, and the San Diego Country Club.
Jim and Mary Ann have a few RV resorts they are fond of as well. “Topsail Preserve State Park in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, is probably our favorite,” says Jim. In addition to playing all of the wonderful golf courses in the Bandon Dunes area of Oregon, the couple also loves Bandon By The Sea RV Park just south of town.
A trip around the country in an RV would not be complete without a few four-legged traveling companions. “We have a Siamese cat named Samantha, and two rag doll cats, Hot Shot and Lover Boy,” Jim reports. “The Siamese is a real ‘princess.’ This is very fitting since I refer to Mary Ann as the Queen. They all travel well.”
As far as the RV lifestyle is concerned, Jim and Mary Ann couldn’t be happier. “I know it’s fashionable for retired people to get on a plane and fly to Europe, then come home and talk about how great Rome is,” says Jim. “To each his own. But, travel the country in an RV, and you’re treated to unbelievable scenery, beautiful little towns, and the opportunity of meeting a lot of great people.”
The Kaats—like seven million other RVers—know a good thing when they see it.
The 19th Hole (and a few chip shots)
There’s still time to attend a golf show this spring. Here are some upcoming shows:
Southern California Golf Show, Feb. 29-March 2, Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach.
See www.scgolfshow.com. Phone (562) 436-3636.
Northern California Golf Show, March 14-16, San Mateo County Expo Center San Mateo.
See www.norcalgolfshow.com. Phone (650) 574-3247.
Seattle Golf Show, March 14-16, Qwest Field Event Center, Seattle.
See www.seattlegolfshow.com. Phone (206) 367-2420, ext. 1207.
Denver Travel, Cruise & Golf Expo, March 15-16, Colorado Convention Center Denver.
See www.ultimateexpocompany.com. Phone (303) 228-8000.
Salt Lake Golf Show, March 28-30, South Towne Expo Center Sandy, Utah.
See www.saltlakegolfshow.com. Phone (801) 565-4490.
Calgary Golf Show, April 5-6, Stampede Park Round-Up Centre, Hall D Calgary, Alberta.
See www.pgaofalberta.com. Phone (888) 866-6140.
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Rick Stedman is an avid RVer, golfer and writer who lives in Yakima, Washington. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org