Jim, absolutely fascinating research on your part, and Thanks for Sharing with Us!
By the time that Charles Seaver died at age 93 in October of 2003, the part that he and his wife Betty Cline Seaver had played in Kingston Trio history with their contribution of "Scotch and Soda" to the group's early repertoire was fairly well-known among fans from the general mention in KTOR and the later identification of Dave Guard's friend as Katie Seaver in other published articles.
I posted something to that effect here at Xroads at the time because I had seen the obituary for Charles in the New York Times , still the benchmark for quality obits in our national press. Of course, "S&S" wasn't mentioned at all in the article and even Baseball HOFer Tom merited but one sentence. Charles earned the notice in NYT , USA Today , AP, Reuters, and everywhere else because he was one of the greatest amateur golfers ever in the U.S. in the early 1930s. Even more, while Charlie was pursuing a very successful career in the food industry, he strove mightily to take golf out of the upper class elitist niche in which it had existed (think of how damning a pejorative "country club" can be as an adjective) and make it a sport accessible to all Americans by pushing cities and towns to create their own non-exclusive municipal low-cost golf courses.
Charlie and Betty were married in 1935 in Pasadena, CA IIRC, and we all remember that they honeymooned for a week in Phoenix. Daughter Katie seems to have been born in 1936 (figuring her to be 18 as a freshman at Stanford in 1954 when she knew upperclassman Dave Guard), daughter Carol came along later, and Tom was born in 1944.
So as the story goes, and the version that I heard had been related by Bob Shane multiple times in informal gatherings at Fantasy Camp, Dave and Bob had decided to drive down from the Bay Area to Los Angeles for Thanksgiving in 1954. I haven't figured out why - Bob's family was in Hawaii, Dave's was possibly still there (though they may have moved back to Dave's birthplace in San Francisco after the War - Tom would know), and Nick's family was firmly established in San Diego for generations.
The boys' decision to stop off in Fresno to drop in on the Seavers appears to be an odd and out-of-the-way detour if you look at California's highway system today. The fastest way to go north and south here now is via Interstate 5, and I have friends who routinely make the 390 mile SF-LA trip in 4 1/2 hours. But I-5 was still under construction in 1954, as was US Highway 101 closer to the coast (of "Ventura Highway" song fame), and the incredibly scenic California Highway 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway or PCH) is 9 hours of beautiful but torturous two-lane navigation along precipitous cliffs that threaten you with a fast and fatal plunge into the ocean.
Bob and Dave would have taken the only completed multi-lane north-south highway in the state at the time, State Route 99, which they could have picked up near Modesto, taken the easy drive to Fresno, and after lunch there tooled through all those California agricultural towns made famous by John Steinbeck - towns like Visalia, Delano, Tulare, and Bakersfield - before crossing the Tehachapi mountains down into the LA Basin.
The visit appeared to have been a pleasant experience for all concerned. Betty made sandwiches, Dave and Katie flirted politely, and after lunch as we all know, Charley went to the piano and remarked that since Dave and Bob liked to sing and perform, he had a song for them that they might enjoy. He took out a handwritten sheet - probably what we call a lead sheet today - and played "S&S." Dave and Bob both had excellent ears for melody, and I have no doubt that they both could have remembered the tune after hearing it only once or twice. I'll guess - and it is just a guess - that they left the Seaver home that afternoon with a copy of Charley's paper (lyrics at least but likely a rudimentary transcription of the melody line, which even someone who couldn't read music could follow for the up-and-down direction of the written notes) and the story of the unnamed piano player in the unidentified hotel and the elder Seavers' affection for the number as "their song" with its honeymoon connection and the like.
Fast forward into this century. By about 2010, I thought I had come up with an outside chance of discovering who that unnamed piano player might have been. I had a background in journalism - my first paying job was in 1965 writing high school news for my local Chicago suburban paper, and I wrote news there and for college radio through the early 1970s - and I knew that every major paper in every big city in America had what they called in that business a "graveyard" - ordered, bound, and preserved copies of every edition that the paper had ever published. By the mid-1960s, these dusty archives were being converted to microfilm, and almost surely digitized in the modern era.
The two major papers that existed in Phoenix in 1935 were The Arizona Republic , which still exists, and the Phoenix Evening Gazette , which was bought by the Republic archives and all around 1930 but published independently until 1997.
So - I thought that since we knew the date of Charles and Betty Seaver's wedding (spring 1935), if we could find the hotel in the city in which they honeymooned, it might be possible to get to the Republic's or Gazette's graveyard and plow through weekend editions from, say, February 1935 through the end of that summer - and check whatever entertainment pages they had to look for ads for the lounge entertainment that the different hotels might have been advertising. If we knew the Seavers' honeymoon hotel, we might be able to make an odds-on good guess as to who that piano player might have been.
The only way I could figure out which hotel that was would be to contact Tom Seaver and inquire politely if he knew. That wasn't far fetched. I can tell you that my own parents married in April of 1945 and stayed for a week at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, right before my dad's 11th Airborne Division was suddenly ordered to the Pacific. I'm sure lots of us know at least something of where our parents honeymooned.
In about 2011, I emailed Seaver's agent and asked him to forward my inquiry to Tom or to let me write him directly. I was clear about the limited nature of and reason for my inquiry, but the agent just refused. We went back and forth about this for a year or so until I gave up. Newspapers have graveyards, but hotels would have no reason at all to keep 80 year old guest lists. I hoped that there might be another avenue by which to contact Tom, but articles in 2013 indicated that even then he was suffering from severe memory loss, and the Alzheimer's diagnosis was made official in 2019.
It's not impossible to find an alternative way to establish Charley and Betty's honeymoon hotel in 1935, but Tom's illness and death have made what was admittedly a very long shot well-nigh an impossible one now. With enough time and money, it still might be possible to dig into other records to see what might be found, but it's not looking good.
A final oblique note. Bob Shane always said that he and Nick and Dave sent a substantial amount of money to the Seavers as thanks for "S&S." I have no doubt whatsoever that they did so. But the other half of Bob's story - that the money paid for Tom to go to USC and become a star pitcher - is invention. Tom was heavily recruited by colleges out of both high school and Fresno City College, and his signing with legendary coach Rod Dedeaux (11 college national championships, including five in a row) at USC was accompanied by a full scholarship until Tom Terrific went to the pros (with Dedeaux's blessing) after a year and a half.