President Abraham Lincoln, Mike Torrez

(Frank) Today Around Kansas looks at the trial of the century, eight people convicted of conspiring in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Next on a lighter note, we learn about the baseball career of Mike Torrez, a Topekan who was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame 10 years ago. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with the Kansas section of the Midland Trail.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

(Frank) Well, good morning, it’s Wednesday. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb and it’s June. (Frank) June, June already. (Deb) June 1st can you believe that? (Frank) I know June bugs and everything. (Deb) June bugs and everything, that’s right. (Frank) [sings] June is bustin’ out– remember when we did one, we did a song and now June is in my brain, sorry. (Deb) I don’t think I know the June bug song. (Frank) June is bustin’ out all over is from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. (Deb) Ooh sure yes. (Frank) [sings] June is bustin’ out, yes. (Deb) Yes sure okay, I do remember. I do maybe I didn’t just recognize it. (Frank) Well that could be. (Deb) Hey, this weekend coming up is the June 2nd which would be tomorrow but this weekend is when they are going to mark that anniversary at the Blackjack Battlefield just outside the Baldwin City and I will be one of the guest speakers but they’ve got re-enactors at the battlefield and lots of really, really cool stuff so check out the website and come out and see us, 160 years. Yes John Brown and the forces against the forces from Missouri. (Frank) Yes. (Deb) One of my friends has one of those signs, has John Brown standing up there and it said, Kansas protecting the world from Missouri since 1854. (Frank) Again, you know those of us in Kansas say this really, not that it is an honor or anything, but this really is where the actual fighting of the Civil War started. (Deb) It is. (Frank) Really did. (Deb) It absolutely is. What have you got coming up in June, Frank. (Frank) Ooh June ooh man, well I’m going to be travelling around Kansas because I gave myself weekends off now from the radio station. (Deb) Good for you. (Frank) I’m going to get on the two wheels I’m going to go a lot of places so it can’t rain on the weekends. (Deb) Well, we’ll put that order in, we’ll work on that right now. (Frank) That and watching my grandson play a lot of baseball. (Deb) We are going to talk about it. (Frank) We are going to have a baseball story too. (Deb) We have a great baseball story coming up for you. (Frank) Yes. (Deb) Great, June is going to be a busy month. (Frank) It is. (Deb) A really busy month. Of course everybody is been holding off you know till good weather, to do a lot of things but it’s a great time to get around Kansas. It’s been a beautiful wet spring. All the wild flowers are going to be blooming and cows are fat and happy all over the state. It’s going to be a great time to get out and see some stuff. (Frank) Well… (Deb) Make sure go to our archive and you can see some of the segments. I had a lady that messaged me that did this; she was looking at our segments to figure out the places that she wanted to visit. You can go back to the website and look at the archived stories and see what looks cool to you. (Frank) Yes, Kansas is a place with spectacular sunsets, so if you can in the evening and you are close to the Flint Hills, go over there because, wow you talk about unbelievable sunsets that’s where you see them. (Deb) Wow just about every part of Kansas, down the Gyp Hills, the high plains, the Flint Hills, just about every part of Kansas has got its own special beauty, doesn’t it? (Frank) Yes, June, great place to be. (Deb) Sure it is, June it’s a great place to be. June is bustin’ out all over. (Frank) It is, [sings] June is — no I won’t. (Deb) We’ll be right back.

(Frank) And we’re back again. I don’t know, I’ve been in music all my life and seen the Kingston Trio live, they used to do a song it was like, [sings] Hangman, hangman bring a rope, Hangman, hangman bring a rope. (Deb) You are kidding. I remember Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley. (Frank) Yes, of course and anyway. That’s a sick song but anyway. (Deb) It is a pretty sick song. (Frank) The only reason I did that is because you have a story about believe it or not gallows. (Deb) Gallows, yes, I don’t know what it is, I’m into the dark side of life I guess. Its all war and murder and mayhem and everything it’s, yes, that’s pretty much sums up my life. Did you see the movie The Conspirators? (Frank) Yes I did. (Deb) Robin Penn played Mary Surratt and did a fantastic job. Edwin Stanton was played by Kevin Kline, absolutely fantastic. Everybody in this just rose to the occasion. It’s an amazing film, I highly recommend it. What we have is a really interesting connection to the whole conspirators. You know we’ve talked about Boston Corbett and his connection to John Wilkes Booth and the whole Kansas connection before. We’ve got a very interesting connection to Mary Surratt so let’s share that story with you today. The trial of the 19th century began on May 9, 1865. Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated not even a month before. To the disappointment of the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, the guilty party, John Wilkes Booth, had been killed rather than captured. But he was only the tip on the conspiracy. There were others responsible in the plot to overthrow the government. President Andrew Johnson ordered a trial by military commission, as the assassination conspiracy was deemed an act of war. For several weeks, prosecutors revealed the case against the conspirators. Because the defense attorneys were never allowed to meet with their clients, their arguments were weak and easily refuted. The commission began deliberation on June 29. Nearly a week later, they declared all eight defendants guilty. Some, like Dr. Mudd, received prison terms. Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, and Mary Surratt were sentenced to hang. Workmen quickly erected a scaffold on the lawn of the Old Arsenal Penitentiary. From their cells, the condemned could hear its construction and the slam of the traps as they were tested. At 1:15 on July 7, the four were lead to the gallows, their hands and feet tied, heads covered with hoods, and necks fitted with nooses. Minutes later, they were dead. Despite a desperate last-minute plea to spare her life, Mary Surratt became the first woman executed for a crime in the United States. In 1885, the secretary of the Kansas Historical Society learned that the scaffold was stored at the Old Arsenal in Washington, D.C. He wrote to the Quartermaster’s office to request a piece of it for the collection. The lieutenant who received the letter was happy to comply, as he had spent time as a soldier at Fort Leavenworth and considered himself a Kansan. He sent this fragment. It has been part of the Society’s collection since 1885. Through enlarging photographs and comparing the fragment, it was determined that this fragment held the rope upon which Mary Surratt was hanged.

(Frank) Let’s talk baseball. (Deb) Yes that’s cheerier. I love baseball. (Frank) Well I got a grandson now that’s playing baseball and yes he’s pretty good. In fact their club team last year won every tournament they were in. (Deb) We have a fine tradition of baseball players in Kansas. (Frank) Yes we do. (Deb) A very long distinguished list. (Frank) Well and we have done the story about Evers to Chance to…and of course Evers is from Kansas. Mickey Mantle who grew up around Baxter Springs and played there and I mean it just kind of goes on and on. (Deb) Just goes on and on. (Frank) Because a lot of major leagues for a lot of years came to Kansas to scout a lot of the teams, sandlot teams and American Legion and they still kind of do. Anyway, one of the people we are going to talk about is a guy that played in some World Series, won some games in the World Series, was a pitcher and I’m glad I never faced him. Mike Torrez. (Deb) Amazing, amazing talent and we are going to wish Mike Torrez a happy 70th birthday this year. Great story, Frank. (Frank) Topekan Mike Torrez was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame ten years ago and the legendary player will turn 70 in August. His career began when he signed as an amateur free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals in September 1964. He made his debut at the age of 20 with the Cardinals. Mike seldom pitched in his first two seasons. He had a breakthrough season in 1969, going 10–4. He was traded to the Expos mid-season on June 15, 1971 for Bob Reynolds. In 1972 Mike went 16–12 with a 3.33 ERA in 240 innings. In the 1974 season, Mike logged a 15–8 win-loss record in 186 innings. Mike was acquired by the Baltimore Orioles from the Expos in 1974. In 1975 he had perhaps his best season of his career with the Orioles, going 20-9 with a 3.06 Earned Run Average in 270.2 innings pitched. However he also led the league in walks with 133. Mike was traded along with Don Baylor and Paul Mitchell by the Orioles to the Oakland Athletics for Reggie Jackson, Ken Holtzman and pitcher Bill Van Bommel in 1976. He was traded to Yankees early the next season. Mike won two games in the 1977 World Series for the World Champion Yankees, both of them complete game victories, and won 15 or more games in 6 consecutive seasons; he caught Lee Lacy’s pop-up bunt for the final out of that 1977 Series. After the Yankees 1977 championship season, he signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox. He won 16 games during the 1978 season. In the 1978 American League East tie-breaker game, he allowed a three-run home run to light-hitting Yankee shortstop, Bucky Dent, in the late innings of the division-deciding 163rd game. On January 13, 1983, the Red Sox traded Mike to the New York Mets. The Mets sent minor leaguer Mike Davis to the Red Sox to complete the trade. Released by the Mets in 1984, Torrez signed with the Athletics in July and they released him in August. As an actor, he appeared in Boston Red Sox: 100 Years of Baseball History, Jungle Assault and 1977 World Series.

(Ron Wilson) In September 1955 a brand new show debuted on CBS television. It became the longest running series in the history of our nation and it was that Saturday night show known as Gunsmoke. The smart people in Dodge City put on a seminar 50 years after the debut and this is the poem that I presented that day with an update for 10 years later. Gunsmoke: I can’t believe it’s been 60 years since the TV show Gunsmoke did first appear. In September 1955 came a new series that would grow and thrive. It featured a tall brave lawman played by James Arness at capturing the bag guys, he was the best. You knew that he would get the villain as he played the character Marshal Matt Dillon. At the Long Branch Saloon he had a friend who was pretty but he never quite got hitches with his friend Miss Kitty. In an office above the town boardwalk was the town doctor who of course was called Doc. Chester was Marshal Dillon’s first deputy, he walked with a limp for everyone to see. Then Festus Hagen came on the show along with Newly and Clint and others also. Good acting, good writing and other reasons kept that show going for 20 seasons. It was the longest running series in the history of our nation and provided entertainment for young and old generations. So I can’t believe it began some 60 years ago but it brings back good memories of the Gunsmoke TV show. When I visited Dodge City, one thing that made me frown, where were all those mountains the Marshal rode into whenever he rode out of town. Happy Trails.

(Deb) When we were at the Kansas Sampler Festival Dave DeArmond was in the tent where my booth was set up in the Kansas products tent — yes man, thank you so much. See a lovely assistant. This is and you know I talk about a lot of books, this is stunning, absolutely stunning. I had never heard of Midland Trail, I’m very aware of a lot of our road history because Kansas, being literally the cross roads of the nation, we’ve got some pretty spectacular road history. Let’s jump a couple of pages there Frank. (Frank) Okay. (Deb) Okay what he has done is gone and followed this route from 100 years ago and painted what he found today. These watercolors are all over the state, they are spectacular. It’s just spectacular. Another thing that Dave did, he visited all 105 counties and painted, I think he has a book with like four paintings from each county. He has just literally painted the entire state and just keeps finding new projects to work on. Let’s take a look at the Midland Trail. Roads evolve. They go from animal paths to Indian paths to wagon roads to paved roads to super highways. A special thanks to Dave DeArmond for introducing us to the Kansas section of the Midland Trail. His book, Sketching the 1916 Midland Trail Across Kansas: As I Found It A Century Later, details the history of this route accompanied by his watercolor images along the road today. We thank Dave for sharing the story with us. In May, 1913, the New York Times reported that a motorist acting for the American Automobile Association was searching for transcontinental routes Mister A L Westgard, Pathfinder for the AAA had already set out several routes including one which ran through Kansas called the Midland Trail. According to a map in the New York Times, Westgard’s original route for the Midland Trail ran near the path of today’s I-70. A 1915 article in Motor Magazine described the Midland Trail as an extension of the National Old Trails Highway, crossing Kansas on good dirt road, marked with yellow bands. He said it passed through Kansas City, Topeka, Ellis, Oakley, and on to Colorado. The route was still not firmly established and a 1914 tour book described the route roughly along today’s Highway 24. In the mid-1920s the road was somewhat re-aligned and called the National Roosevelt Midland Trail. In towns the Midland Trail was sometimes marked. The National Midland Trail Association specified utility poles to be marked with two six-inch bands of orange with a six-inch band of black between; however in Kansas the guide only mentions red stripes on “marked poles.” What were the roads like? Paved only in larger or more prosperous towns, and then with cut stones or bricks, largely dirt roads, at times impassable? Yes. You can find Dave’s artistic guidebook in the Kansas Originals Stores. As Dave says, time to hit the road!

(Frank: We have to go already. (Deb) Doggone it, time flies. (Frank) Yes. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) We will see you somewhere… (Both) Around Kansas.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

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