08/22/2012 12:06 PM
Chris Browne and Frank White (File photo by Matthew Hicks.)
By Ashley Dunkak
T-Bones general manager Chris Browne had been working to recruit Frank White for quite some time. This year, it finally worked.
Browne had reached out to White, the five-time Royals All-Star, in 2006, when White left the Royals’ minor league system as a manager, but at that point he still worked in community relations for the Royals, and eventually went into broadcasting. The timing just wasn’t quite right.
When White and the Royals parted ways earlier this year, Browne’s offer to coach the T-Bones was exactly what White needed.
“When Chris called me, it was a lifeline more than anything else,” White said, “because I was ready to pack up, move to Arizona and say the heck with everything.”
Browne, who grew up around the Royals as a batboy and clubhouse attendant, wanted White to stay. He didn’t know if offering White a job would prompt him to change his plans, but he was willing to give it a try.
“I know a lot of people who have kids, and I have young kids,” Browne said, “and the thinking was that maybe if we keep him in town, number one, kids can still see number 20 on the field somewhere, maybe meet Frank White, make some of those memories that were so big to me. Number two, hopefully Frank can enjoy some fun out here and be tied to baseball.”
As a coach who had an incredibly successful Major League playing career, White certainly has the attention of the T-Bones players. They listen when he speaks and try to pick his brain whenever the opportunity arises.
A comment by former T-Bones player Hunter Mense, who left the club recently to return to college, exemplifies the impact of White’s experience on how players react to his instruction. Even when the advice is something simple regarding the fundamentals, people listen when White speaks.
One nugget Mense recalls is White’s reminder that a very good infielder is one who makes every average play. If he makes the spectacular plays in addition to the ordinary ones, then he can be considered excellent – but that doesn’t happen unless he makes all of the run-of-the-mill plays first.
“It makes a whole lot of sense,” Mense said, “but coming from a guy like him, it carries even more merit.”
Just as the players enjoy learning from such a decorated former player, White appreciates the attitude of the individuals on the team.
“There’s no dollar issues,” White said. “These are just guys who really want to work hard to be better players. From a coach’s standpoint, that’s awesome.”