• Bill Althaus: Join the ranks to put 'Smooth' in Hall of Fame

  • The late Darrell Porter called Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer Frank White “Smooth.”

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  • The late Darrell Porter called Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer Frank White “Smooth.”
    When asked why he came up with that nickname for the eight-time Gold Glove award-winning second baseman, the all-star catcher simply said, “Because he is.”
    Another of White’s former teammates, the late Dan Quisenberry tagged White with a different nickname “Hoover.”
    “If the ball was hit to the right side of the infield,” the perennial all-star reliever said, “Frank scooped it up like a Hoover vacuum cleaner.”
    Legendary slugger Reggie Jackson, whose New York Yankees were the Kansas City Royals’ most heated rivals during the late 1970s and early 1980s, once said, “Frank has saved as many runs as I’ve driven in.”
    While most of us think of White as a fielding prodigy – the man reinvented his position once artificial turf was added to the game – he wasn’t bad at the plate. In 1985, he became just the second second baseman in baseball history to hit cleanup.
    The first was Jackie Robinson.
    White responded by hitting a homer and driving home a series-high six runs as the Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in a thrilling seven-game series to claim their lone world championship.
    While White’s statue stands next to those of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer George Brett and late manager Dick Howser in center field at Kauffman Stadium, he does not have a plaque in Cooperstown.
    I am proud to say that I am part of a committee that includes Kansas City Mayor Sly James, Ollie Gates of Gates Barbeque and Bob Snodgrass, who published White’s autobiography “One Man’s Dream,” and our goal is simple: To get Frank White’s name on the ballot that will be given to voters of the Veterans Committee.
    That committee will then vote on the next Hall of Fame class that was overlooked by the baseball writers.
    White’s credentials are solid gold, especially when compared to another Hall of Famer who joined the elite baseball group thanks to a vote of the Veterans Committee – former Pittsburgh Pirates great Bill Mazeroski.
    When compared to Mazeroski, a 2001 Hall of Fame inductee, it’s easy to see why this grassroots effort was started. Though White’s career batting average (.255 to .260) and hits (2006 to 2016 are slightly lower than Mazeroski’s , White has Mazeroski topped in RBIs (886 to 853), home runs (160 to 138), stolen bases ( 138 to 27) and OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, .675 to .667). White, like Mazeroski, won eight Gold Glove awards, and was named to five All-Star Games (Mazeroski made seven All-Star teams). Maz has two World Series rings to White’s one, but Maz only had one at-bat in Pittsburgh’s 1971 World Series win over Baltimore.
    White is one of the greatest players in the history of the Royals and many Hall of Famers – including Whitey Herzog, the late Ted Williams and Jackson – believe he should join their ranks in Cooperstown. Herzog wrote a letter to the Veterans Committee, recommending White, saying: “He was as great defensively as any second baseman that I have ever seen in my 40 years in professional baseball. His hands, arm strength, range left or right, slow hit balls and pop-ups were second to none. Also, his vertical jump was unbelievable. Frank grew as a hitter during his career, ending up hitting in a power slot towards the latter part of his career. Frank is an outstanding person and citizen and I definitely feel that he should be placed on the Veterans Ballot this fall.”
    Page 2 of 2 - You have the chance to throw your support to White by logging onto www.FrankWhiteForTheHallofFame.com. There, you can add your name to a petition that will be sent to those responsible for putting the name on the Veterans Committee’s ballot.
    If I didn’t believe White belonged in the Hall of Fame, I would not be a part of this committee. You had to see his brilliance on a daily basis to realize who he redefined his position and made the Royals one of the premier teams in baseball from 1976 to 1985.
    He’s been called “Smooth” and “Hoover” by his teammates. Let’s hope this grassroots effort results in a new moniker – Hall of Famer.
    Bill Althaus is a sportswriter and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at 350-6333 or bill.althaus@examiner.net. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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