Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: Seaman Band Instructor Ryan Simpson Happy to Toot Horn as Tribute to Father, Former Big-Leaguer Steve Simpson

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: Seaman Band Instructor Ryan Simpson Happy to Toot Horn as Tribute to Father, Former Big-Leaguer Steve Simpson

Article excerpt

The spirit of Steve Simpson will be at home Thursday in Kauffman Stadium.

Well, actually on the mound.

Simpson starred as a pitcher for Washburn, went on to make it to the big leagues and was inducted this summer into the Shawnee County Baseball Hall of Fame.

He died much too young, in 1989, but by then had heard his son Ryan progress at playing the trumpet.

"My dad said to me once, maybe I'll play at a Royals game and it stuck in my head,'' Ryan recalled. "It became kind of a bucket list thing.''

When Ryan was young and growing up in Topeka, being the son of a major-league pitcher made him the cool kid on the block.

He did play baseball into his teens, but his start was inauspicious.

His father was gently pitching some soft toss and instructed Ryan to choke up. Confused, Ryan attempted to lose his lunch. Dad asked him what he was doing and Ryan stated he was choking up. The best he knew how.

That story, and others, Simpson shared last month at his father's enshrinement in the Shawnee County baseball hall.

Simpson pitched one season in the majors after his four-year career at Washburn. The right-hander played for the Ichabods from 1967-70, recording a 1.12 ERA and 90 strikeouts as a senior. That same year he was drafted by San Diego and in 1972, at the age of 24, made nine appearances for the Padres.

Steve Simpson was just 41 when he died of a heart attack. Ryan was just 15.

"One of my big regrets is I didn't talk to him enough about his baseball days,'' Ryan said. "I remember collecting a lot of baseball cards because I couldn't get enough of the game, but I was just a young kid.''

At the time of his dad's death, with the family living in Omaha, no trace of heart disease had been detected. So to Ryan, it was only natural to think his father was always going to be there.

Soon after Steve passed, the family moved back to Topeka. While attending high school at Topeka West, Ryan sensed he wanted to make music his career.

He got into teaching. After spending eight years at Rossville High School, he will soon begin his 13th year in the Seaman district, where he is the middle school band director.

The chance to play the national anthem at a Royals game came after an initial taping on YouTube allowed Simpson, 43, a chance to gain an audition at The K. …

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