Spring Training Highlighted with Denny HOF Announcement

Blog Note — The following posting comes from Toby Cook, Royals VP-Community Affairs & Publicity. Toby spent the last couple of days at the Royals Spring Training facility in Surprise, Ariz. He credits Denny Matthews with inspiring him to pursue a career in broadcasting, which ended 20 years later when Toby joined the Royals front office.

The Voice of the Royals, Denny Matthews, probably knew his phone would ring off the hook Thursday afternoon. That’s okay. At least he wouldn’t have a ton of voicemails to return. 

You see, Denny — who’s been in the Royals broadcast booth since the beginning of the franchise — doesn’t have one of those fancy call-waiting/straight-to-voicemail set-ups at his home. If he’s on the line, you get a busy signal. You have to keep trying. And a whole lot of people from around the sports world tried to call him Thursday.

Word spread quickly that Denny, a simple, unpretentious man with little use for technology, had been awarded the Ford C. Frick Award and will be honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., this July. He’s one of only a handful of play-by-play guys to call games for an organization since its inception.

I finally got through on Denny’s line about 4:45 p.m. Arizona time Thursday to congratulate him. I’ve known Denny for only a few years and have worked with him for just six months. But like many folks my age, he’s the reason I’m a Royals lifer.

(Denny highlight, Oct. 1985: "No outs to go! And the Royals have won the 1985 World Series!")

I came to Surprise Wednesday night for my first Spring Training trip after joining the organization last August. It was exciting to see the facility, meet up with coaches and players I hadn’t seen since that beautiful sweep of the Detroit Tigers the last series of 2006, and watch Alex Gordon field grounders. But the highlight of the day was an e-mail from back home, alerting all Royals associates about Denny’s news.

It doesn’t come as a shock that Denny will be honored, and remembered, in Cooperstown. If Hall of Famer George Brett is the face of the Royals franchise, Denny’s the voice — the voice that created a few generations of fans with all those pitches, all those innings, all those games.

Seeing the first full-squad warm-up at the Royals’ Surprise complex is a thrilling way to gear up for a new season, this one with more hope than in recent years. It’s wonderful for me to realize the memory of my first trip to spring training will be dominated by the news that the guy who brought us so many memories of the Royals’ past will be remembered as one of the greats.

Many of us already considered him that. Maybe this team can give him another last-inning of the World Series to call as a tribute.

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