Chance meeting in minors sparked longtime friendship

This is how a funny incident resulted in close friendship. It’s how two guys named Duke Sims and Bob Bailey came together as minor league baseball players in 1962. And 55 years later, the only thing that has changed is that instead of playing baseball, they play golf together several times a month.

During the in-between years — 17 for Bailey and 11 for Sims — the two chalked up some impressive statistics on Major League Baseball diamonds. In their heyday, they were two of the most feared hitters in baseball. Sims was a catcher. Bailey played third base, first base and left field.

Sims, who has lived in Sun City Summerlin for 20 years, will be remembered for crushing the last home run ever hit in the old Yankee Stadium in New York City’s South Bronx. He was a member of the Yankees at the time, one of five teams he played for in the majors.

Bailey lived in Summerlin for 18 years before moving to Lake Las Vegas a year ago. Baseball fans in Canada will remember him for hitting the most home runs and racking up the most hits of any player — American or Canadian — in Jarry Park Stadium as a member of the Montreal Expos for seven years. That was before the Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals.

“We got to be real friends while we were in the minor leagues,” Bailey recalled while relaxing after a round of golf with Sims and others at Highland Falls Golf Course in Sun City.

Both were rising stars in the International League at the time, one level below the majors. Sims was with the Jacksonville Suns, a Cleveland Indians farm club, and Bailey was with the Columbus Jets, a Pittsburgh Pirates farm club.

“It was 1962. The Columbus team came to play in Jacksonville, and Bailey, who was having a super season as a hitter, was only 19 at the time,” Sims recalled. “I was two years older. Anyway, we had a midnight curfew, meaning everyone had to be in his room by that time.

“I realized that I had broken the curfew. It was a little past midnight. You couldn’t go through the hotel lobby,” Sims continued, explaining that team managers and coaches usually hung out there, looking for curfew-violators.

Bailey explained he had no idea what a curfew even was.

“I went down to the beach because I had nothing else to do,” he said. “I was even too young to drink.” When Bailey realized he had broken curfew, he, too, hurried back to the hotel. For the same reasons as Sims, he avoided going through the lobby.

Both recalled sneaking in through a back door, which actually was the entrance to the hotel kitchen. “There was quite a bit of activity there with cooks and other people, and Bailey and I found ourselves face-to-face, while we were banging into pots and pans,” Sims remembered as both men laughed heartily.

“Until then, we only knew each other from having played against one another earlier that day. He said, ‘Hi Duke,’ and I said ‘Hi Bob,’ and that was the start of our friendship as we both beat the curfew.”

It was a phone call from Bailey in 1991 that brought Sims and his wife, Sonnie, to Las Vegas from his former home in Connecticut.

“My wife, Karen, and I had gotten into the time-share business here,” Bailey said. “By then, Duke and I had become very good friends, and I called to tell him that he could do well selling time-shares.”

Both retired soon afterward. Sims and Bailey turned to golf, and the friendship has flourished since.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at

Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Herb Jaffe Video
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like