Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Remembering Fred White

It seems like Fred White has always been part of the sports equation with me.  As I became "aware" of sports growing up in north-central Kansas, it was men like Fred, Gus Griebe in Wichita and the legendary Bruce Rice in Kansas City that I clued in on.  Fred White died suddenly at 76.  I never knew the man but I felt like I lost a friend.

I first remember Fred doing sports at WIBW.  He and the late Ron Paradis made quite a sports team at the CBS powerhouse.  Every year when they'd televise the K.U./K-State basketball game, Fred would call one half for the Wildcats and Max Falkenstein the other for Kansas.  Right away I could see that Fred was special. 

It didn't take long for the Kansas City Royals to see it to and they hired him away in the mid-70's.  A lot of great play-by-play men and sportscasters have gone through Topeka and Kansas City.  K.U. grad Kevin Harlin ranks at the top of my list as the best, but I'd put Fred at number 2.

As good as he was doing Royals games, I think he excelled at college basketball.  For some reason I enjoyed his pairing with the late Paul Splittorff as his color man when the former Royals great was breaking into the business.  It was just a great combination.

I'd run into Fred at sporting events, in the press box, but I held him in such awe I couldn't approach him.  I feel lucky to have seen his work.  He comes from an era of sports excellence where the Royals produced on the field and great writing flowed from Topeka that produced the Capital-Journal sports writer Bob Hentzen and Rick Dean. 

It feels to me a chapter in Kansas sports history has closed with White's passing.  But I know men like Steve Physioc and Greg Sharpe still carry that standard of exellence that WIBW created through the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's.

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