I am a life-long Eagles fan. Not Boston College. Not Philadelphia. Eagles. As in Glenn Frey and Don Henley. Those Eagles. Imagine my excitement the other day when I heard the James Gang was going to be at McCoy Stadium. The James Gang was lead by current Eagle, Joe Walsh. They were never really too popular outside of Ohio in their heyday (roughly 1968-1977) They are a little more well known now, due to Walshs’ success with the Eagles. Walsh is a legendary guitarist and in his day, a legendary partier. Any how, I was all revved up, until Dan told me “No, no. I didn’t say the James Gang. I said James Kang.” Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. Never mind.
James Kangs’ return to Pawtucket was just as exciting. The 5’9, 175 pound infielder belted a home run, a three run blast into the bullpen at Frontier Field to help lead the PawSox to a 6-3 win over the Red Wings. Kang was as shocked as anyone that he went deep. It was just his second professional homer, ever. “I was a little surprised. When I hit it initially, I knew I hit it well, but I didn’t think it was going out. It felt good off the bat. I jumped on it.” Kang admitted to getting a little “jacked” after going yard. “Of course, it was very exciting. I wasn’t sure if the ball went over at first because it hit a railing and it bounced back onto the field. I was just happy to get a good piece of the ball and get some rbi’s.”
Kang follows guys like Ronald Bermudez, an outfielder that has made the jump to Pawtucket, directly from A ball, in Salem. It speaks volumes to the job the Red Sox do as an organization, that they can plug in young guys with little experience and still see great results. ” Initially, I think it’s the coaching staff that makes everyone feel comfortable. Guys like me and Ronny Bermudez coming up from the lower levels. They make us feel at home as we adjust to a higher level. They tell us to maintain our approach and don’t change anything.” Kang says they rely on older teammates. “The older guys help us with pitchers, adjusting our defensive positioning, things like that.”
Kang finds inspiration from a man who is physically similar in stature. Former PawSox infielder and 2008 American League MVP, Dustin Pedroia. “It’s always nice to see that there are smaller guys who make it up to the Big Leagues. I look up to a player like Pedroia, because it makes me feel that I could accomplish the things that he does.”
Kang realizes the facts of the game. He realizes that his stint in Pawtucket could be short-lived. He takes a business-like approach and tries not to think too far ahead. “I try to take it one day at a time. I try not to think about what’s going to happen the next day because nothing is really certain. One day at a time and I don’t worry about it.”
Kang heard from a lot of people after his three run homer, all with congratulations. “I heard from just about everybody I know. People back ion Boston, folks who were watching it on TV. A lot of texts from my teammates back in Salem, too. It felt nice.” Kang welcomed the contrast. His season in Salem hadn’t been going all that well. “It’s been kind of a struggle. Playing time wasn’t that consistent. I’ve been trying to figure out how to be a role player, not playing every day. It’s a big adjustment. It’s my first full season.” The name “Kang” just rolls off the tongue. I like saying it. According to James, I’m not the only one. “A lot of people call me ‘Kangaroo’ or ‘Killer’. They mess around. Yeah they seem to like it.”
After I got over the shock of the James Gang not coming to town, I asked James Kang about the musical group. Surely, over the years, you’ve enjoyed some of their music?? The young Kang laughed. “I’ve never even heard of them.” A few more three run homers and Joe Walsh will want his autograph.