Macfarlane keeps baseball roots in KC
Retired catcher running academy with Royals infielder Seitzer
KANSAS CITY -- These days, Mike Macfarlane is likely be found repairing nets for a batting cage, or teaching kids how to catch, or any of the myriad tasks that occupy a co-owner of a baseball academy.
Macfarlane, a longtime catcher for the Royals, operates Mac-N-Seitz in Kansas City in partnership with former infielder Kevin Seitzer. It's a thriving academy that the two players founded in 1996 and, since 2004, has been located in a large indoor facility at 13705 Holmes Road in KC.
"It's probably one of the premier facilities in the country for baseball and softball," Macfarlane said. "We have very good instructors and very good customers that are loyal."
Macfarlane, in the Major Leagues from 1987-99, and Seitzer, who played in 1986-97, remain involved in the teaching aspect.
"When we decided to do the instructional side of it, we were trying to give back to the community," Macfarlane said. "You're not going to get rich off of doing lessons and things like that, but we were just trying to enhance baseball in the Kansas City area."
A highly-respected player known for his game savvy, Macfarlane caught the most games in Royals history, 798. His KC stay was interrupted by a 1995 free-agent foray to Boston, and he finished his career with Oakland for two years (1998-99). But he spent more than 10 years with the Royals.
Macfarlane hit with power -- he peaked with 20 homers in 1993 -- and had a good arm, throwing out 33 percent of base-stealers in his career. Once in a while, he looks back on those good ol' days with George Brett and Bret Saberhagen and so many others.
"The fact that I was able to play in Tiger Stadium, old Comiskey, obviously Yankee Stadium -- some of the parks with so much history," Macfarlane reminisced. "And be able to witness history with Sabes' no-hitter, George's 3,000th hit, catching David Cone's Cy Young season, and later on, catching Roger Clemens for a year.
"There are all kinds of things that you pore back on and think, 'Yeah, that did happen.' With the computer being available and, with the kids looking back on the things you did, it kind of brings things back."
ARI: Travis Lee | ATL: Mark Lemke
BAL: Chris Hoiles | BOS: Bill Lee
CHC: Randy Hundley | CIN: Eric Davis
CWS: Dan Pasqua | CLE: Dave Burba
COL: Curtis Leskanic | DET: Steve Sparks
FLA: Charlie Hough | HOU: Doug Drabek
KC: Mike Macfarlane | LAA: Rick Reichardt
LAD: Jim Gott | MIL: Don Sutton
MIN: Kevin Tapani | NYM: Ed Kranepool
NYY: Jim Abbott | OAK: Ben Grieve
PHI: Tommy Greene | PIT: Barry Jones
STL: B. Tewksbury | SD: C. Hernandez
SF: Brian Johnson | SEA: Henry Cotto
TB: Doug Creek | TEX: Dave Hostetler
TOR: Alex Gonzalez | WAS: W. Fryman
As a catcher, Macfarlane took his lumps, of course. And as a hitter, he was plunked 97 times. And he swears he still has a knot on his head where Albert Belle smacked him during a ruckus one night at Cleveland.
He was always a trooper, and so was his wife. One spring, during their drive to Florida, he strengthened his arm by playing catch with Kathy.
"The rehab back then was a little bit different," Macfarlane said.
Today they have four children -- Megan, a high school senior; Austin, a sophomore; Allie, a seventh grader, and Ryan, a fifth grader.
Kathy spends a lot of time driving the kids around while pop is minding the store at Mac-N-Seitz.
"We measure our success by getting kids better, by developing talented players," Macfarlane said. "You have the recreational players, and then you have the premier players. You approach and tackle each of those the same. You don't differentiate between the two, you treat them the same, and it goes from there. The successes are starting to pay off with the colleges that are starting to knock on our door for our premier players of the high school level."
Their efforts have resulted in several college scholarships for players from their teams.
"Then you have the story of the little kid that batted last on his team and worked hard all winter long and ends up hitting in the 3-hole the next year," Macfarlane said with a chuckle. "Those are the things that keep you going when you have 15 lessons a night in February."
"Obviously I handle the catching side of it and Kevin is the Yoda of hitting. And we train all of our instructors, and the biggest part of it is our instructors are fantastic with kids."
Sometimes Macfarlane, who had a turn as a TV commentator, does local radio shows in KC, and he pays close attention to the Royals.
"Definitely we're Royals fans and follow the ups and downs with them, and like every other Royals fan, look to the future," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.