Frank White is running for the Jackson County Legislature this fall, but on Friday afternoon we talked baseball and the upcoming World Series.
Earlier in the day on Twitter, I had blurted out, “I’ll say it: #BringBackFrankWhite to Kauffman Stadium for a first pitch from #Royals HOFamer at the World Series.”
Dozens upon dozens of retweets showed there’s a strong love for White, the former second baseman, in this town. He has a statue out at The K, and his number is retired as well.
The only other living person with those credentials is George Brett, who threw out the first pitch at Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night.
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So I reached out to White, who gave me these updates.
Yes, as a regular fan, he’s been to two of the playoff games at Kauffman. First he watched the Royals beat the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card game and then saw the club beat the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS clincher on Wednesday.
“I’m just out there to support those guys,” White said, mentioning his fondness for some of the players he has coached in previous years, before being fired by the Royals in what has turned into a nasty dispute for the last few years.
White said he doesn’t have World Series tickets.
He plans to “watch from the house and root for the guys.”
Well, a part of that message is just plain wrong.
Here’s what I and many other fans hope happens:
The Royals could use these high-profile games to reach out to White, bury the hatchet and invite him to throw out a first pitch at Game 1 or Game 2 of the World Series.
The roar from the crowd would be deafening.
“I feel the love in this town. It hasn’t diminished at all,” said a grateful White.
But as I talked a bit longer to White, his somewhat complicated relationship with the Royals emerged.
White mentioned that the Royals had, indeed, extended an offer to be out on the field with other Royals Hall of Fame members on Tuesday, before Brett threw out the first pitch.
I was at that game, and saw Royals greats such as Bret Saberhagen and Dennis Leonard as well as broadcaster Denny Matthews in the circle of people who gathered at the mound, before Brett emerged to throw out that first pitch.
White said he turned down the offer. He said it wasn’t clear whether all the former players could have sat together and exchanged war stories about baseball, which would have been enjoyable for him.
White said he decided “the timing wasn’t just right for me” to take part in those festivities.
But even if you think White should have accepted that offer and didn’t because he might have been holding out for more of the limelight — who’s to say he was wrong to do that?
I think — along with other Royals fans — that White ought to get some special attention at the World Series for all he did for the team while he was a player and for what he has contributed since then as well to the organization.
Says White, “Whatever happens between me and the Royals will have to come from the Royals.”
So let’s do this thing.
Sure, Frank White can stay at home and watch some of the World Series games at home. But the Royals ought to honor him and — perhaps more importantly — excite the Kansas City fan base by asking White to throw out the first pitch at one of the first two World Series games at Kauffman Stadium.