Kansas City Royals DH Billy Butler (16) - Credit: USA Today

It Is Time For A Kansas City Royals Legend To Go


 

Some of my fondest childhood memories surround listening to my beloved Kansas City Royals on my transistor radio. On more summer nights than I can count, often long after I was supposed to be in bed, it was the voice of Denny Matthews vividly describing the exploits of my heroes.

A scorching double by George Brett off of the right field wall that easily scores the lightning fast Willie Wilson from first. The image of a crouching John Wathan throwing downs signs for submariner Dan Quisenberry to close out yet another Royals victory.

These images were so perfectly painted for me by the silky smooth voice of Denny Matthews. Denny the reliable. No matter what my day had brought I could count on Denny Matthews bringing me the joy of Royals baseball night after night.

In many ways Denny was, and will always be, Kansas City Royals baseball for me.

Since 1969 that voice has faithfully been there. The nostalgic little boy in me hopes Denny wants to do this forever which is why, as much as I hate it, it is long past time for Matthews to go.

For some time now, I have felt like Denny Matthews cares little about his craft. It is as if he is marking time, waiting for something – for what I do not really know. Is it for the Royals to return to glory? Is it one more shot at announcing a World Series? Or is it because he has lost his passion but does not know how to let go?

I take no joy in saying that, as Matthews enters his 46th consecutive season as the Royals announcer, he seems almost angry and bitter at being at the games.

For several years now the Royals front office has allowed him to do the home games but pick and choose which road games he wants to do. Frankly, the best Royals radio commentary comes on the Royals road games Denny chooses not to do.

I know Matthews is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and in the Royals Hall of Fame. He’s even in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. Those honors are more than deserved. He has broadcast 3000th hit games, no hitters, he has grumpily seen it all. It seems like he is bored and wants every listener to know it.

It is almost painful to listen to. It is not that I want a Mitch Holthus-type that acts like every yard gained is as momentous as winning the Lombardi trophy itself.

That type of over the top yelling into the microphone can be irritating and distracting but at least Holthus cares. You can feel it.

It is not an act; Holthus really is that excited. Unfortunately, with Denny it feels like he stopped caring about his craft about five years ago. Some critics may suggest that number is kind.

The Royals have one of the most promising young teams in baseball. Frankly, it has not felt this good coming into a new season for a very long time. For the first time in almost 30 years Royals fans can legitimately dream of playoff games and are far from the laughing stock of just a few short years ago.

I would love to hear an announcer that is as excited as I am about the Royals. Fans want their announcer to care.

I want a kid staying up later than Mom and Dad, listening on his IPod, to barely be able to stay quiet at the sounds and description of a game-winning Eric Hosmer home run. I want that kid to be in his mind pushing Billy Butler to pick up anchor and run faster because he can FEEL the announcer pushing Billy too.

Truth be told, I want a Royals announcer to make this big kid feel the way Matthews used to. That may be selfish, but so is resting on your laurels and staying longer than one should.

It is hard to say goodbye to a legend. It is even harder to call for the exit of one who brought to life so many cherished memories, but that does not change the harsh reality that it is over.

It is past time for Denny Mathews to switch off the microphone and leave us with only the good memories of a magnificent play-by-play career.

Tags: Denny Matthews Kansas City Royals

  • The Plaindealer

    Let’s take Steve Physioc. Now, good ol’ Phys, who bends and contorts his voice so poorly to try to form an epic sound, trips over his schtick so much he has to often retrace his words. Phys, who will say things like “foul ball, strike two,” but not tell you where the ball actually landed, if it was a high pop or screaming foul, is the exact reason Denny Matthews is still in the booth. Whether or not you’re just tired of hearing Denny, you may be disinterested in the nuances of the game. Because that’s what a real pro like Denny still brings, every day, is the ability (and, yes, the desire) to actually describe the game.

    • jayhwk01

      Physioc is a whole other article. You are comparing apples and oranges. Mr. Physioc has nothing to do with Denny’s performance or lack of interest.

  • Joel Wagler

    I have to agree with Craig here. While Matthews was a huge part of my childhood, and was instrumental in my love for the Royals, he just isn’t the same as he was for so many years. He DOES seem disinterested, even if that isn’t the case.

    I have no love for Physioc either.

  • Josh Michaels

    great piece! and i too agree.. I’m a later generation Royals fan, having been born in 1988 but Denny was the Royals to me. Listening to him on the headphones at the game, or in the car, or on the garage radio while shooting hoops outside.. some of the best memories in my life. But i agree, it’s been time, he isn’t the same Denny Matthews I grew up listening to.

  • themonkeysays

    It sounds like you want Hudler calling games on the radio. He’ll get excited over any old thing… That’s fine to me; I’ll take Denny on my TV with Lefebvre, and Hudler can call games with Physioc on the radio… Although I’ll miss hearing Denny when I have to go to the bathroom at Kauffman Stadium, because he sounds like Royals baseball to me.

  • Happee_Bumpee

    It is past time for Denny to leave. Bring on some new younger (much) passionate announcer
    Royals fan since ’69

  • Sean Coleman

    Huh?

    Like the author of this article, I also spent nearly every summer night in the 70′s and early 80′s laying next to a window fan to keep cool, and, listening to Denny Matthews.

    Was his energy level different then?

    Yes. He was 35+ years younger and calling games for good teams with great players for an energized fan base. Since then, he’s had to suffer through 30 years of mostly bad baseball more than half-empty stadiums and an owner with a corporate (Wal-Mart) mentality that shows no passion or enthusiasm for their team or the game.

    Despite this, Matthews has been nothing but a pro for 45 years.

    I happen to travel quite a bit for business, and, I listen to games in a number of Major League towns, and, I feel we are very lucky to have Denny Matthews. Many of the announcers around the league sound amateurish, green, and like they never played baseball. There are many play-by-play and color guys that seem to have no feel for the game or more importantly, how to paint a picture. If I ‘m looking for data, I can read the box score after the game.

    When I want to feel like I’m at the ball park, I’ll listen to Denny Matthews.