Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

This Man's Dream Began Right Here

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

This Man's Dream Began Right Here

Article excerpt

FRANK WHITE: From Royals Baseball Academy to an 18-year big league career


The stench overpowered Frank White the moment he entered his dorm room.

Opening the closet door revealed the origin of the smell.

The skin of a rattlesnake.

Back in 1970, it was not uncommon for snakes to share space with players at the Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy on Sarasota's Clark Road. Alligators, too.

Earlier during a game, a snake in the outfield had stopped play. Someone came out to remove it, and that, White thought, was that.

Except that it wasn't. White's roommate wanted to fashion the skin into a belt. So what better place to store it than on a hanger in a closet?

"I told him, 'You have to get that thing out of here,'" White said. "So rather than taking it outside and hanging it someplace, he took it, of all places, to the boiler room, so it had the whole place smelling."

Frank White survived his encounter with the snake skin to play 18 years in the majors, all with the Royals. He was a five-time All- Star, won eight Gold Gloves at second base, and in 1995, was inducted into the Royals' Hall of Fame and had his No. 20 retired by the team.

But before all that, White was part of the first class of 35 young men selected by the Royals to participate in the Academy, the idea of owner Ewing Kauffman to develop baseball players from top- shelf athletes.

The story of White becoming the first Academy player to reach the majors, and his career and life after that, is told in his book "One Man's Dream."

Given the odds, that White enjoyed the stellar career he did was somewhat remarkable. A football and basketball player at Kansas City's Lincoln High, who only played baseball in the summer, White survived 176 tryouts staged by the Royals around the country, involving 7,682 players.

He joined U.L. Washington, later a Royal infielder, and Ron Washington, the current Texas Rangers' manager, in that inaugural class. …

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