Kenny Lofton enjoyed a successful 17-year Major League career with 11 different organizations. Of course, he is best known as a member of the Cleveland Indians, a team he spent parts of 10 seasons with on four different occasions (1992-1995, 1996, 1998-2001, 2007). His speed and grace helped earn him four Gold Glove Awards and the .299 career hitter was a member of six All-Star teams.
Our Jim Monaghan recently sat down with Lofton to talk about his career in baseball, the World Series, and life after baseball in the film industry.
JM: Just a terrific Major League baseball career that you had Kenny. 17 seasons in the Major Leagues; in the postseason 11 times; in the World Series twice; an Indians Hall of Famer. You had quite the career.
KL: Yeah, it was fun. I had a great time. I mean I enjoyed every minute and the experiences I had with different teams that I played for. And my 2 greatest moments were the World Series (’95 w/Indians, ’02 w/Giants) I played in. They were pretty fun.
JM: The team I associate you most with, of the 11 you played with, is of course the Cleveland Indians. And you played with them for one good chunk of time and then came back with them a few other times. The KC Royals this year, Kenny, remind me an awful lot of that Cleveland Indians team in 1990s. That team you played on, the Indians team, you played on in the 1990s. That Indians team you played on was just so much fun to watch. And the Royals team really recaptured that spirit for me in this postseason. Guys like Lorenzo Cain and Nori Aoki.
KL: Well you know I think we had a combination of pretty much everything. We had speed, defense, we had power…we had it all. We didn’t have the best starters in the world, but we had a team that was very steady, you know we got the job done. We all worked together, and had a great bullpen. We had an all-around great team, but I think our speed and defense stood out and that’s what’s going on with Kansas City. Their speed and defense is standing out right now. When you get in the playoffs, you get on a roll and that’s what Kansas City has done, has gotten on a roll and they have not stopped.
JM: Yeah, sometimes it’s not the best team that wins (the World Series), it’s the team that’s the hottest. And that may be what this San Francisco team is walking into, because this Kansas City Royals team has been incredible.
KL: Oh yeah, they’re (the Giants) in trouble. They (the Royals) have this attitude. They’re very confident in what they’re doing, and what it means for them to play defense and when they get on base they use their speed. There’s no team in baseball that SF has faced this year like this. There’s going to be a rude awakening for them once the process all starts.
JM: Safe to say Kenny that you’re picking Kansas City in this World Series?
KL: I like Kansas City because of that reason. That was my style of play. They’re doing what I liked to do. And baseball had gotten away from all of that because of the steroids and all that. But baseball is back to the way it’s supposed to be. Fun, speed, defense…so you know that’s the reason I’m liking them, because they play my style of game.
JM: You played with a very controversial player in your career, Albert Belle. I actually know somebody who roomed with Albert when he was coming up in the Cleveland system early in his career. He said that Belle was completely misunderstood. Do you think that’s going to keep Albert out of the Hall of Fame?
KL: With the Hall of Fame you don’t know how it’s going to…how they go about the process with the Hall of Fame, because it’s very tricky in who they want in and who they don’t want in. So, I don’t know, I think you know what, your on-field numbers should show up and your “off-field” numbers are in a separate category. Just like Pete Rose. Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame
His numbers on the field is what depicts what goes on. What you do a little bit off the field should kind of weigh a little bit, but his numbers are above and beyond anybody I have ever seen ever. So if you’re going to look at it, Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. But I don’t think, again, with Albert, you can’t look at how someone’s attitude, or what it’s like. Look at Eddie Murray. People complained about Eddie Murray, and he was a first ballot Hall of Famer. So it’s about the numbers. It’s about what you put up in the game. So that’s what the people should look at, not all that other stuff.
JM: You just mentioned about a team getting hot at the right time. We’re at the 10-year anniversary of that 2004 Red Sox team that came back from three games down against the Yankees. You were on that Yankees team. As you were watched those four games unfold after that 19-8 clobbering, what was going through your mind and the mind of your teammates at that point? Could you really believing what was happening as that Red Sox team got hot?
KL: Well I was on the bench. So I felt like I was a guy that should have been on the field and wasn’t. So I was sitting on the bench and it was tough to where I know what it’s like to play in those situations and I felt I should be in the game and I wasn’t.
But you could saw it coming and unfolding, and nothing. And the tough part about the whole thing, I was upset, because there was nothing I could do about it. I wasn’t in the game. That’s what kind of made me feel like I know what I can do and what I could bring to the table. Just watching it unfold and you got your hands are tied and couldn’t do anything about it. Actually, it was a sad feeling for me to sit there and watch it.
JM: Kenny, last week I spoke with Dean Cain (TV’s Lois and Clark) last week about this new movie he’s working on, “My Last Christmas”. There’s an indie funding project that’s tied in with it. What’s your role with this film, with Dean?
KL: I’m good friends with Dean. I brought the project to him from a guy who works with me. I’ve got a company called, “Film Pool” that I’ve had since 2004. The guy that works with me brought the project and said, what do you think of the project? I liked it and took it to Dean and a few other people. It’s a project that I’m very passionate about. You go to indiegogo.com/mylastchristmas and it was a film about a form of a cancer, Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), that a lot of people don’t know about. It’s very rare and if you’re multi-racial there’s a good chance you could come up with this cancer.
We hooked up with a company called “Project Race”. They’re a company that goes out and tries to get people to register for bone marrow (to donate.) Because you need this type of bone marrow… you’ll need to find a match. We felt very strongly about it. I talked to Dean he was very passionate about it and he liked it, because family members and friends he knows as well, besides me, that are multi-racial. If something was ever to happen and you can’t find that match you’ll feel very sad. When you have that opportunity to go out there and make awareness to this form of cancer and that’s what this film is all about.
JM: And your college degree was actually in film studio production, right, at University of Arizona? And what is the website again for the film.
JM: Best of luck to you and Dean on this film. Thanks Kenny, and continued success to you.
KL: All right, thanks a lot!
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Jim Monaghan can be heard Monday through Friday mornings on the WDHA Morning Jolt from 6-10AM & Sundays from 7-10AM with “All Mixed Up.” He’s also an instructor at Professional Baseball Instruction in Upper Saddle River. Follow him on twitter – @Monaghan21.