On Wednesday, the Kansas City Royals announced that longtime broadcaster Fred White had passed away due to complications from melanoma. He was 76 years old.
White had been broadcasting alongside Hall of Famer Denny Mathews since 1973 when he was let go in 1998 and replaced by Ryan Lefebvre, but Royals fans, fifteen years after his last call for the Royals, still remember him fondly.
The thing about following a team, especially over a long stretch of time, is the familiarity you gain from the day to day attention to games. For countless hours, the same voices are invited into your living room, office, garage, or what have you. The players change, sometimes even the stadium, but when you’re lucky, the same voices remain.
For me, I remember summers where my life was wrapped up in summer rec league baseball, mowing lawns, riding bikes and Denny and Fred calling the Royals. There, after the Guys Snacks and Kansas City Life commercials, White would read the lineups, call the action, and tell the story with Mathews. I’ve never met Fred White, but by all accounts he was a great friend and person. His passing feels similar to that of Paul Splittorff two years ago, even though White was farther removed from the booth than Splittorff had been before he left us.
Numerous Royals fans expressed their appreciation for White after the news came out (many others popped up in a Facebook thread as well), and many of us share the same sentiments and memories:
Fred, The world is a better place because you were in it.
— Steve Physioc (@StevePhysioc) May 15, 2013
Rest In Peace Fred White. Your voice will always remain in my mind, as a part of endless joyful, youthful, summer memories. — Nate Bukaty (@nate_bukaty) May 15, 2013
Sad to hear about Fred White. If you grew up in KC, Denny and Fred were pretty much summer.
— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) May 15, 2013
— anonymous bosch (@theshortandlong) May 15, 2013
The way Fred White read the starting lineups was beautiful. My favorite thing about him. — Brian McGannon (@BrianMcGannon) May 15, 2013
RIP Fred White, who passed away from melanoma, same as Paul Splittorff did. I regret never getting the opportunity to meet either man. — Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) May 15, 2013
I loved listening to Fred call #Royals games on the radio. Losing sucks, but it’s made easier by great broadcasters.
— Kevin Agee (@Kevin_Agee) May 15, 2013
A transistor radio, Fred and Denny calling a Royals game, and summer — the perfect baseball storm.
— Lee Warren (@OmahaBaseball) May 15, 2013
— Chris Kamler (@ChrisKamler) May 15, 2013
September nights… West coast baseball… Pennant races… Fred White was half my bedtime soundtrack. Thank you, Fred. For everything.
— Craig Brown (@royalsauthority) May 15, 2013
You must listen to White’s call after the Royals had won Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. Starting at the 10:28 mark, Denny talks about destiny and White puts the perfect touch on it at the end (hat tip to Lee Warren for finding this and passing it along on Twitter):
The Royals honored White’s memory the same way they did Splittorff’s two years ago – with a half inning of silence.
#Royals dedicate first half-inning to silence to honor Fred White. Pretty cool.
— Greg Hall (@greghall24) May 16, 2013