Frank White Will Pay His Dues
First things first. Frank White doesn’t believe in dues-paying. He doesn’t think a former major-league player must necessarily sacrifice the first years of his baseball afterlife and retrace the steps he made as a young player in a minor-league outpost to satisfy someone’s subjective list of prerequisites for managing in the major leagues.
That said, Frank White has accepted a job with the Boston Red Sox organization to serve as manager of the Sox’s Winter Haven affiliate in the Gulf Coast League, a rookie league. After a long and often brilliant career with the Kansas City Royals, White, 41, will work with a different organization’s youngest, least-polished personnel and impart the wisdom gained in 18 seasons of Gold Glove work at second base.
He will teach, listen, communicate and motivate. And through it all -- through the sauna summer days without air-conditioned clubhouses and all those bus rides -- White will be doing one other thing: paying dues.
Although it goes against some of what he thinks is appropriate, White is willing to sacrifice himself to advance the chances of minorities gaining decision-making power in the major leagues. “But it’s not only that,” said White, who is black. “I’m curious to see if I can manage. After I satisfy that curiosity, then I’ll know more of what I want to do. And if I want to manage, I’ll have some experience they seem to say is necessary.”
Red Sox General Manager Lou Gorman, who has known White since the days of the Royals’ Baseball Academy in the late ‘60s, offered White a non-playing job after the Royals unceremoniously discarded White in 1990. White hadn’t considered retirement at that point. But in August this year, he sent out resumes to all clubs.
Gorman’s reply was the only one that expressed interest. “No offers on the heels of all those managing jobs opening up and none of them going to minorities ... I didn’t want to be one of those guys unwilling to pay dues,” White said.
“I could have been a coach in Double-A or Triple-A, but I said to Lou, ‘Where can I do the most good?’ ”
His question was posed in regard to the Red Sox, but it also applied to what was most advantageous for Frank White and for the efforts of minorities to gain equal access to management positions in the game. His idea was to help the Sox, prepare himself for future work and, in White’s words, “force them to create an avenue of progress” for minorities.
“I don’t believe in paying dues down there. But there’s a perception that those who had great careers can’t be good managers ... I want to get past that sort of thing. I want to take away their last excuses.”