Having witnessed both Disco Demolition and the George Brett pine tar game firsthand, former Major Leaguer Greg Pryor has seen his share of chaos. But what he sees today with the madness surrounding nutrition makes him want to scream.
“Parents cave in. Kids whine and they get a cookie. That is the way it is,” said the former Kansas City Royal and Chicago White Sox, who has been in the supplement business for 18 years. “We have alcohol and tobacco that are legal, and there are things that (the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) allow in food that can get people addicted. People eat the wrong food. They have soft drinks. They give the nutritional value, but they can be addictive.
“Until people understand what their bodies are converting things to from what they consume, they will have malfunctioning bodies.”
Pryor said he prefers to use the word “supplements” instead of “vitamins” because people often have the wrong idea about vitamins. Many people, he said, bank on a certain brand of multivitamin, but there is no guarantee that they are getting what they need from that product.
“People want to feel better. They treat themselves to something non-nutritional, and they feel better for a moment,” Pryor said. “It is hard for parents to get the right things inside their family. Food prices are skyrocketing. So you need to use supplements.
“I highly recommend that supplements are part of the choices you make. You want to use your money wisely. If you spend 50 cents on vitamins a day, that is $15 a month. That is better nutrition than what you are going to get in food you buy.
“People ask me how I can afford supplements. I ask, ‘How can you afford not to use supplements?’”
After getting to the Big Leagues for five games in 1976 with the Texas Rangers, Pryor broke into the majors to stay with the White Sox in 1978. In 1979, he signed a two-year deal with the club.
“I worked my tail off to get to the Bigs,” Pryor said. “I got a chance to play 143 games in 1979. I started off 24-for-60. I felt like I was in college again. One day (general manager) Roland Hemond came in the clubhouse and said I was at the top of the American League batting average leaders and that no one else was better than .400. I stayed above .300 through July, but coasted down to .275. I was productive.”
However, after a tough 1981 season in which he batted .224 and appeared in only 47 games, Pryor knew he was in trouble heading into the 1982 season.
“(Then-Sox manager) Tony LaRussa told me ‘I’ve got four guys to take your job.’ The Sox first offered me a 20 percent paycut, but I settled on the same salary that I made in 1981. My wife was pregnant with our first child. My monthly bills were $5,000. I was on the gangplank every day. Every day in the spring training of ’82 was the World Series for me.”
It would so happen that the White Sox had a lot of games with the Kansas City Royals the last week of the 1982 spring training season. Pryor had a good last week and the Royals wound up with two back-up infielders, Onix Conception and Tim Ireland, with broken bones in their hand. So, Pryor got traded to a team he used to hate.
Pryor never hid the fact that he was no fan of Kansas City players prior to joining their midst.
“They used to beat us in the late ’70s and early ’80s. They were fast, they were cocky and they rubbed it in. After I was traded George Brett asked me, ‘Why didn’t you come over and talk to me at third base?’ I said, ‘Because I didn’t like ya.’ … No one came running over to me when I was traded to Kansas City.”
Pryor got an up close and personal look at one of the baseball’s most memorable events, the George Brett pine tar game, thanks to a teammate’s advice. After Pryor’s trade to the Royals, the Kansas City equipment manager needed a number for the new player.
“I was just happy to have a job. I knew if I was on the Opening Day roster, my salary was guaranteed for the whole season,” Pryor said. “(Back-up catcher) Jamie Quirk was a numbers guy. He told me to take No. 4 so I would have the locker next to George (Brett.) It wasn’t like the New York Yankees where all the single digits were taken. I was lockering next to George for the pine tar game.”
Along with Disco Demolition – where the White Sox had to forfeit the second game of a doubleheader in 1979 when a publicity stunt to blow up disco records went awry when fans stormed the field, set off fireworks, tore up turf, and scaled the foul poles – and the pine tar game, Pryor also got to play with Bo Jackson, “the most impressive athlete I have ever seen.”
While not as famous as Brett’s pine tar bat, one of Pryor’s bats is part of baseball history as well. Brett, while in a slump, used one of Pryor’s bats to get his 2,000th hit. Pryor also has a World Series ring from being part of the 1985 Royals team that beat the St. Louis Cardinals.
Pryor was released in the spring of 1987 and after doing some sales work and insurance-claim factoring, he was approached about the dietary supplement business.
“The best opportunity was set in my lap and I almost overlooked it,” Pryor said. “I was approached about the dietary supplement business and I was 99 percent sure that I did not want to be in the industry.”
However, he started to learn about supplements and how certain nutrients affect how you feel and act. With his wife, Michelle, he created the supplement business Life Priority (lifepriority.com) in 1994 and is thrilled he did.
“I teach people what the essentials are and what they need every day that they are not getting in their food,” Pryor said.
Besides Life Priority, the Overland Park, Kansas resident has also created Sports-Aholic, a line of merchandise promoting 20 different college sports programs adding the “-aholic” suffix onto team names, such as “Hawkaholic” for University of Kansas.
The idea came from the Pryors’ second of three daughters.
“She told me that she loved KU so much that she wanted a T-shirt that said ‘Hawkaholic.’
As if running two businesses isn’t enough, Pryor will soon be starting a weekly baseball radio show. “The Ballgame” which will include co-host Chris Kamler, will air from 4-5 p.m. (Central time) Wednesdays, beginning Jan. 9, on ESPN 1510 AM in Kansas City and online at http://1510.com. Information about the show is available online at theballgamekc.com, via Twitter at twitter.com/theballgamekc and on Facebook at Facebook.com/theballgamekc.