As you have heard by now, Royals Broadcaster Fred White passed away Wednesday. I join with all Royals fans in wishing condolences to his family.
On yesterday’s Ballgame radio show, I got the chance to talk with both Greg Pryor and 1985 World Series MVP Bret Saberhagen about their stories of Fred and how he treated them not as ballplayers, but as friends. It’s well worth a listen, you should check it out. (Show is embedded below.)
For me, however, I was only a listener. Denny and Fred filled many of my summer evenings as I listened to their calls before going to sleep at night. In the mid-80’s when the team was at their peak, I got my first transistor radio (with the single ear piece) just to listen to the games.
The night of Game 6 of the 85 World Series, it was Fred and Denny’s call I listened to, in Downtown Kansas City as I was getting out of church choir practice. I listened to Fred talk about the “improbable little team doing improbable things to win” on the radio of a taxi cab that had pulled over in the shadow of the Cathedral in Downtown KC.
To me, Fred’s voice is always synonymous with rain delays, however. For some reason, I loved listening to the coverage during rain delays. This was when Fred usually covered scores and highlights from “around the League.” Mostly, I was driving with my Dad from here or there. One particular night, I remember my Dad running into the grocery store when it was pouring rain outside. (This was still when you could leave your kids in the car, probably with the motor running.) I remember the swish-swosh of the windshield wipers and Fred and Denny laughing about how it’s “now raining buckets” out at Royals Stadium. That rhythmic swish-swosh was the first thing I thought of when I heard about Fred White’s passing. And how he would always seem to chuckle just a little bit, as if he had the funnest job in the world.
Fred White, along with Denny Matthews were my childhood. They were my summers. Fred’s voice, his chuckle, and his calming words during a rainstorm will be missed.