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Examiner
  • Bill Althaus: Fans show love for White at book signing

  • I received a phone call this past summer that resulted in a memorable partnership with a boyhood hero.

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  • I received a phone call this past summer that resulted in a memorable partnership with a boyhood hero.
    That partnership culminated in a book signing Tuesday night at the Plaza branch of the Kansas City Library, where more than 600 fans of Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame second baseman Frank White came to see him introduce his autobiography, “One Man's Dream: My Town, My Team, My Time.”
    Frank called and asked if I would be interested in helping him write his autobiography. It took about half a second to say, “Yes!”
    We spent countless hours this summer working on the book, and I think Frank is as proud of the effort as I am.
    Now, we wanted to find out if there would be an eager audience awaiting its release.
    No one really knew how many fans would turn out for the event, but when the chairs in the spacious downstairs auditorium were filled to capacity, the library staff placed more than 150 chairs on the main level, where fans could watch the event on a closed-circuit feed.
    When Frank heard about the overflow crowd, he went upstairs and personally thanked those fans for coming and being a part of his special night.
    Frank and I found a couple of comfortable chairs on the auditorium's main stage and we had an emotional question-and-answer session that delved into his upbringing in downtown Kansas City, the impact the Royals Academy had on his life and his recent departure from the Royals broadcast booth.
    The session reminded me of a State of the Union address as fans gave Frank an ovation after each answer. A couple even drew a standing ovation.
    I'd look over at Frank and his eyes were misty, but he maintained his composure and seemed to get stronger as the 45-minute session went on.
    I could listen all day to Frank talking about the rise of the Royals to American League supremacy. He'd talk about his first roommate, Big John Mayberry, and how he called Frank “Academy Frank,” until he earned his stripes in the big leagues.
    The first time Frank faced Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry, he wound up with a face full of dirt and chalk as a pitch zeroed in on his batting helmet. The home plate umpire looked down at Frank and said, “Welcome to the big leagues, rook.”
    As Frank talked about the Royals glory days, hitting cleanup in the 1985 World Series and winning eight Gold Gloves, I looked into the audience and saw a loving, caring group of fans who were all zeroed in on the man of the hour.
    After being relieved of his broadcasting duties, Frank had no idea how the Royals fan base would respond. And Tuesday night's overflow lovefest proved that he might not be in the Royals' plans, but he is still No. 1 to the fans who got an autograph, a hug or a lasting memory from the greatest defensive second baseman to ever play the game.
    Page 2 of 2 - I was just a member of the supporting cast Tuesday night, and I am so proud and honored to have shared the experience with my wife Stacy, my 80-year-old mom Joyce, my dearest friends and of course, Frank White.
    Frank, thanks for that phone call; and thanks for the memories. Let's hope there are many more to share.
    “One Man's Dream: My Town, My Team, My Time” is available at amazon.com for $24.95 and will be in all area bookstores this week.
     
     
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