Hearne: ‘Cancer’ Ends Fred White’s Time with Royals

White-FredIt’s been a long, hard slog for beloved Royals broadcaster Fred White

According to sources, esophageal cancer is to blame for the surprise announcement by White that his days with the team are over. White, who is not expected to make it for long, wasn’t quoted in today’s newspaper account of his departure. An account which pointed only to “recent health issues.”

“I always thought Fred was a good guy,” says former Entercom chieftain Bob Zuroweste. “He was bitter about being fired, which I can understand, because the Royals were his life. But he was always a gentleman and was well respected.”

Speaking of which

It was on Zuroweste’s watch in 1998 that White was canned after 25 years in the broadcast booth.

“It bothers the hell out of me,” White told the Star‘s Jeff Flanagan at the time. “But I’m not going to let it beat me up. It’s a tremendous letdown.”

At the time of White’s axing he was making around $160,000 and partnering with Denny Matthews who was taking down more than $200,000.

The object of the game, sources say, was to reduce Entercom’s overhead by hiring someone for less money (Ryan Lefebvre was brought in to replace White at a salary of around $100,000) and the Royals “chose” to fire White instead of Matthews to meet that goal.

white_fred_2However public outcry was so great, that following a huge faux pas by then Royals general manager Herk Robinson stating publicly that the team wanted more youth in the broadcast booth, White threatened to file an EEOC complaint that could have lead to a lawsuit and was hired back and given a made up job as “affiliates manager.”

Of course, if you read today’s sanitized account in the Star you wouldn’t recognize any of those details. Here’s how reporter Bob Dutton watered down the incident:

“When White left the Royals’ broadcast booth — a move that drew heavy criticism — he remained with the club by overseeing the Royals Radio Network, which spans seven starts and remains one of the largest in the major leagues.”

Geez, all Dutton had to do was read the Star‘s headline atop Flanagan’s column to even halfway get the story straight: “Decision to fire White is puzzle

ClaZKnlXLet’s unlock that puzzle 15 years after the fact.

“The Royals were the ones that basically made the decision to fire White,” says a source familiar with the situation at the time. “Herk Robinson wanted to create a different sounding broadcast. He wanted a younger sounding broadcast and Fred White threatened to file an EEOC complaint against Entercom and the Kansas City Royals and that’s why we rehired him.”

As for the “different sounding” broadcast, was the culprit there, sources say.

“Here was the problem with the Royals broadcast, it was only one guy doing three or four innings and then the other guy doing three or four innings. So it was never a two man broadcast. Very, very seldom did they do a team approach and we wanted it to be a two man show.

“There was no Major League Baseball broadcast in the country that was doing a one man show. One guy would do play-by-play and color and the other guy would do color. But it was always two guys doing the broadcast at the same time. I mean, how many one man broadcasts are there in major league sports?”

Trouble was veteran broadcaster Matthews wouldn’t do a trois.

“They fired the wrong guy, they should have fired Denny because he’s the one who wouldn’t let it be a two man show. And basically Herk and Denny went back a long way and they were buddies.”

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19 Responses to Hearne: ‘Cancer’ Ends Fred White’s Time with Royals

  1. Irishguy says:

    So a dying man asks for privacy and doesn’t want the nature of his illness public, and you can’t give that to him.

    Not only that, you got to air all the dirty laundry about his firing, 14 years ago, adding absolutely nothing that wasn’t known 14 years ago. Real classy.

    Whatever happened 14 years ago, both Fred White and the Royals have made their peace about it. Isn’t that good enough for you?

  2. admin says:

    One of the things that comes with living in the public eye is…living in the public eye. You get fired, get a DUI, a double mastectomy and it’s news.

    Clarifying what the Star misreported today is also news. And reporting what exactly happened 14 years ago and why is long overdue news.

    You may recall that a couple, three years ago Greg Hall reported similar news here.

    • Irishguy says:

      So if all this is so important, why did YOU wait 14 years to report it? Or are you saying you’ve been investigating this for 14 years and you didn’t find any of this out until now, while the guy was dying.

      Cheap sensationailsm, Hearne.

      • admin says:

        I wasn’t covering the story 14 years ago, Jeff Flanagan was. And he missed it because the insiders who knew what was going on at the time kept their mouth’s shut.

        Fourteen years later, those lips are unsealed. History and news is always being amended as more information becomes available.

        And this is how and why Fred White was fired.

        Pretty simple. If you preferred not to know that, you didn’t have to read it.

  3. PV_Pathfinder says:

    RIP Fred

  4. harley says:

    true gentleman…worked with mr. golden for 3 years…he is the epitome of
    kansas city…nicest man to work with…we would laugh about the old stadium
    on brooklyn and how it was so crazy to park down there and eating at
    the soul food restaurant down the street.
    KC is losing it’s soul…its magic…it’s rock solid people who made our city great.
    Its losing its most coveted citizens and the real “stars” of our town.
    Lets not get lost in the controversey or the hatred that was part of a business
    decision …lets rejoice that frank was a hero/a role model/a classy man who
    proved that you can go from nowhere and be someone.
    RIP my good friend. You will not be replaced.
    Hit to white…double play throw to patek…to mayberry…..DOUBLE PLAY…
    the man was an artist at his position …made it look like he was gliding on
    Frank White…kc original golden glover and biggest fan of our town and

  5. BS says:

    was it melonoma or esophogeal?

    • Hearne says:

      Good question. The Royals and family are obviously keeping the details to a minimum, but insiders were hearing the former and the news release offered the latter. Could it have been both? Maybe. Ever heard of primary malignant melanoma of the esophagus?

  6. CG says:

    40 years, nice work Fred. You were a part of this cities sprots history, when it mattered.

  7. chuck says:

    Fred was really pissed about being fired and hid it from no one. I talked to him in 2000 at Roscoe TV (Carl Roscoe is such a pisser. 🙂 ) and he was fuming still.

    I like the picture in the next article of Fred in front of empty seats at the ball park.


    • admin says:

      Chuck, you’re right.

      White was so pissed that he seized on Herk Robinson’s slip of the tongue with an age discrimination threat and threatened his way back into getting a made up job.

      That’s news for anybody who cares. Obviously some people – Star writer Bob Dutton included – who prefer to blur what actually happened because they either liked and or were pals of Whites or they just didn’t know. Or both.

      I know this is inside baseball (so to speak) but the ending of Dutton’s “news story” today reporting White’s death was journalistically embarrassing.

      Following an anecdote from Denny Matthews about White and him mistaking empty seats in Oakland for fans, Dutton carried on for three paragraphs with some lame schtick about the empty seats maybe having been “two souls dropping in for a night of ball…or just to listen to Fred and Denny.”


      Dutton rambles on to speculate that the two apparitions may return to Friday’s Royals game in Oakland White in tow.

      This in a hard news story? Anybody doing any editing at the Star these days?

  8. gilhdoges says:

    I think it is completely appropriate to report the full story here. You see, not everyone reading this is part of a insular world already familiar with the particulars. I never heard of Mr. White before reading his obit today. But I love and respect baseball and, thanks to what I have learned due to coverage such as I have read here and elsewhere, I will hold White, his family, friends and fans in my caring thoughts.

  9. Jon says:

    This story makes no sense… If the Royals were worried about cutting cost and sounding younger, Denny or Fred was going to be gone.. You aren’t going to have a 3 man booth and have it cost less than 2 guys.. You act like Denny is at fault for not having it be a 3 man booth.. But if costs were a factor, the whole idea of a 3 man booth is not happening.. This is also wrong because it states Fred remained with the organization after he was let go from the booth. Actually he wasnt employed by the Royals from 1999-2000. He was brought back in 2001 and did the radio affilliates PR job and alumni group and was brought back to the booth part time.. At least know what you are talking about.

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