News came out today that Frank White, former Kansas City Royals legend, is getting ready to release a new book. A big selling point for the book is Frank delves into the messy split from this past offseason between himself and the ballclub. You can read a few excerpts here . Most Royals fans(myself included) was not pleased when the team bid him goodbye this winter. But as time has gone on, I now just want it to end. At this point, Frank White just needs to go away.
Frank White was one of those feel good stories that we all like to hear about. White went to college in the Kansas City area and when the Royals opened their baseball academy in the early 70’s, White ventured there and got himself signed by the ballclub. White rose through the minor leagues and eventually displaced the popular Cookie Rojas at second base. White was in the lineup because of his defense, as he would win eight total Gold Gloves, six in a row between 1977 to 1982. He was also a five time All Star, and by the mid 80’s had improved his offense enough that he was often slotted into the middle of the lineup. When Frank’s playing days were over, other than a short stint as a coach for the Boston Red Sox, Frank stayed in the Royals organization, floating around in different roles. White would do everything from coaching in the majors to managing in AA. He would also work in the Royals front office in the community relations department and most recently as a color commentator for the Royals TV broadcasts. White was relieved of his duties on Royals broadcasts in December of last year, and that seems to be White’s main source of bitterness.
White’s firing wasn’t the first issue between himself and the Royals. After managing three seasons for the Royals AA team in Wichita, White was given an interview for the open Royals managerial job and was even considered a favorite of Dayton Moore during the process. Alas, the job went to Trey Hillman, and White quit managing, feeling that he was ready for the next level. White felt that even though the team interviewed him, they only did it as a courtesy. The truth is Frank didn’t have a lot of experience, which I’m sure hurt his case.
White has always seemed to have a sense of entitlement when it comes to the Royals, with his presence in the community and him being fan favorite being used against Kansas City management. White has been notorious over the years for complaining that the Royals weren’t using him in the correct role or making him a bigger part of the organization. This actually even goes as far back as the end of his playing career, as the Royals were letting him go and he “threatened” to go sign with another ballclub. It has been like this, back and forth, since then, but for the most part the two sides needed each other. White is loved by the Kansas City community, a local boy who became a local legend. It has always benefited both parties to work together, and for the most part they have. Unfortunately, White’s firing from his broadcasting job seems to have been the final straw.
Frank had started broadcasting for the Royals in 2008, as fellow former Royal Paul Splittorff had come down with a medical condition, that eventually was diagnosed as cancer. White wasn’t the greatest color commentator in the world, but he had been a baseball man all his life, and gave fans the point of view of the player in the game. He would call a play how he saw it, and sometimes even break down plays, explaining why it was either a good or bad play or call. White was gradually improving as time went on, and more than anything he spoke as a true Kansas City Royal. But Frank spoke his mind, and in the end, that is what cost him his job.
When word came out of White’s firing, the one thing that was mentioned was his “negative” remarks during broadcasts. Now, you can realistically see this both ways. One, no team wants their broadcasters talking down the ballclub. It just isn’t good for business. But there is an exception to this rule. When an organization has had losing seasons 17 out of the last 18, you can’t sugar coat it to your fans. You need to be honest about the situation, and that is what Frank did. The last thing any Royals fan wants to hear is that everything is great and just grin and act like there isn’t a problem. So for management to drop Frank for him vocalizing this, well, it comes across as short sighted and thin skinned. No one has specifically said who particular in management didn’t like White’s opinions, but Frank believes it is President Dan Glass. It doesn’t really matter who, as much as someone didn’t like it. Add in White leaving his community relations job at the beginning of 2011 due to salary complaints and it seemed like Frank was being unjustly pushed out.
Since the firing, Frank has said he is done with the organization and will never return. He has done countless interviews and has publicly denounced the organization over and over. Fans voiced their displeasure with the move, and most never accepted his replacement, Rex Hudler. But a funny thing happened as the year progressed. Frank’s bitterness came across more and more, and some fans felt less and less sorry for White. Some even now understood what the Royals had been putting up with. This fan was one of them.
I have always been a Frank White fan. He was one of my favorites early on, and he was one of the key pieces of that 1985 World Championship team. I even have a Frank White autographed ball that holds a special place in my heart. He will always be one of my all time favorites, but I’m finding it harder and harder to justify his complaints against the Royals. They have always treated him as an all time great, retiring his number and even building him a statue at Kauffman Stadium. But that isn’t enough for Frank. I hate to say it, but a lot of his bitterness stems from jealousy.
It has been mentioned more than once, but it has always seemed that Frank White wants to be treated like George Brett is in Kansas City. Brett is adored in Kansas City, and it’s pretty simple to see why. He played his whole career in Royal blue and topped it off with a trip to Cooperstown. He was “the man” in his playing days and the fans still treat him as such. White wants that adoration. White wants to be “the man”. But the truth is he isn’t. He was really good, and deserves all the accolades he has earned. But he isn’t a Hall of Famer. He isn’t George Brett. Truth be known, the Royals have for the most part done right by Frank White. But ask yourself this question: has Frank White done right by the Kansas City Royals? At one point, I would say yes. But as time passes, it is looking more and more like White hasn’t done right by the only organization he ever knew as a player. It’s not all about Frank White; it’s about the community, the fans and organization. If he can’t see that, then he should never return. Frank, don’t go away mad. Just go away if this is how you are going to be.