Royals Manager Recalls His Last Hunting Trip With The Late Dale Earnhardt And Someone’s Definitely Chopping Onions

by 5 years ago
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It’s hard to believe that it has been 14 years since Dale Earnhardt passed away, but the world keeps on spinning. One thing I learned today about the late great Dale Earnhardt is that he and current Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost were close friends, and the two used to take an annual hunting trip together right after the Atlanta NASCAR race.

Ned Yost recently sat down with Pat DeCola of NASCAR.com to talk about his close friendship with Dale, and he recalled their last hunting trip together, which was also the last time he ever saw his close friend Dale. If you find that someone is chopping onions throughout your reading of the following story about two athletic great bro-ing out in the most American of ways, don’t fret, I’m right there with you.

And the story goes:

MLB manager on NASCAR legend: ‘I got the opportunity … to tell him that I loved him’

“The year before (Dale) died, I would always try to make the Atlanta race and we’d go hunting after. I have a million (Dale hunting stories). The best one was our very last hunting trip together.

“I was sitting at home watching the (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards). He finished second (to Bobby Labonte). At the end of Dale’s speech, I was sitting downstairs in my den all by myself watching the banquet, at the end of the speech, he said, ‘I’ll see y’all later, I’m going hunting’ and I laughed and said ‘Ha ha, I’m going with ya!’

“I flew to Iowa the next day and Dale flew in the next day and he got there before me. I came in and I sat down at the table and Dale had gone to town. When he got back, I was talking to Don Kisky (of TV show “Whitetail Freaks”) and I could hear Dale come in and he came in through the front door, walked to the living room, came to the kitchen where we were sitting. He was behind me and put his arms around me and kissed me on the cheek, so I hugged his head; gave him a big hug. We just had a great time.

“In the middle of that, there was a snow storm. And it snowed 16 inches and Dale was supposed to take off and go do a sponsorship deal for Budweiser and we kept trying to tell him, ‘Dale, 16 inches of snow, you can’t go. You have to stay here.’ One of the guys we were with was Bill Jordan, the hunting guy. He kept saying ‘You can’t go; you can’t go. Too much snow.’ Dale got upset, right? He started screaming at Bill; ‘I got deals I gotta go do!’ You could tell it got a little awkward in there.

“Bill sat back and all of a sudden it got real quiet. I said ‘HEY!’, real loud. I looked at Dale and said ‘You know, the only reason that he’s saying that; there’s only one reason. We don’t want you to go, man. We love you. You know what? We love you and don’t want you to go. We love you.’

“He got the biggest smile on his face when we told him that we loved him. Bill sat in the corner going, ‘Well, I don’t feel the love.’

“When Dale took off, that was the last time I saw him. I had talked to him earlier that day (of the 2001 Daytona 500) and told him that if he won, I was coming to spend the night with him, or if one of his cars won.

“After that, the one thing that gave me any peace at all was that I got the opportunity before that happened to tell him that I loved him. So that was our best hunting trip.”

The story of how their friendship came about is also pretty interesting, and definitely not something you ready about every day. It’s one of those things that makes me scratch my head and wonder what it is about America’s greatest that attract the rest of the greats to them?

Well, let’s bring it back to 1994. Major League Baseball entered its eighth work stoppage in history on Aug. 12, leaving players — and in Yost’s case, Atlanta Braves bullpen coaches — to fend for themselves for work until the dispute was resolved.

nter Richard Childress Racing, entrenched in a premier series title race with driver Earnhardt and the No. 3 team, which took Yost on for the season’s final nine races from Darlington to Atlanta as a rehydration engineer — a dignified term for “water boy.”

Out of Yost’s three careers (manager, rehydration engineer and — seriously — taxidermist) the whole baseball thing has worked out the best. But those nine races were enough for a lifetime of stories and one of the most important friendships of his life.

With Dale.

“Dale Earnhardt was my best friend; one of my best friends for a long, long time,” Yost said Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals’ home park. “I serviced the driver; I was with Dale all the time. The Charlotte race was probably something I’ll never forget. Just a lot of good times.

“The fun thing for me, of course, was being with Dale, but Dale was so wrapped up in being in the championship running, the fun thing for me was at 5:30 in the morning or 6 when the garage opened up, just being in the garage with the rest of the crew guys. That was an absolute blast every day.”

All the onions, all the chopping. Where was that Weather Channel warning on the impending dust storm? Nothing to be ashamed about if you got a little choked up here, bros. Just a beautiful story from NASCAR.com about two great athletes, one a baseball manager, the other ‘The Intimidator’. I count today as a win for having the chance to read that story.


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