By STEVE KRAH
Dan Vaughan doesn’t swing a bat or throw a baseball for a living.
But he is just invested in what his team does as the players.
“It came down to the last inning of the last game to see if we were going to make the playoffs,” says Vaughan. “I was thinking there would be postseason baseball Wednesday and then DONE! I was a stunned mess. We had been going and blowing everyday.”
Vaughan, who worked for the AA’s Gary (Ind.) SouthShore RailCats before going to Kansas City, was asked by a youngster in the business about the approach to take with his broadcasts through the Play by Play Announcers, Sideline Reporters, Color Analysts, Studio Hosts page on Facebook.
Vaughan summed up his response.
“There’s no governing body,” says the Texas native. “It’s all preference. There’s no right or wrong answer to the question. You’re on the bus with people for 100 days a year. You get to know people. You can’t help but care.
“It’s human nature to me. I try to be fair (and will let the audience know if a player makes a mistake). But I want them to do well.”
Vaughan was in pre-season mode in Gary — working on play biographies, sending out contracts, updating the website and travel planning — when the KC opportunity presented itself.
T-Bones vice president/general manager Chris Browne, whom Vaughan knew during their time together with the Double-A Jacksonville (Fla.) Suns in the mid-1990’s, invited the broadcaster to join his operation.
“We prayed about it,” says Vaughan, who is married to Dallas area school teacher GayMarie, someone he has known since junior high. “We wanted a clear answer.
“Things happen for a reason — Faith, Hope and Love.”
GayMarie was a regular visitor to her husband in Gary and Dan was close to family in the Elkhart/Goshen area. Being in KC put him closer to his home in Texas.
“They were good to me (in Gary),” says Vaughan. “They gave me a chance (after an 11-year hiatus from broadcasting baseball).”
So he took the job. On the first homestand, GayMarie drove the seven hours to surprise the Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations at the park.
Besides calling live action, Vaughan posts game stories and videos on social media and helps promote the team — whether in the U.S. or Australia.
He was sure to let local media know when comedian Bill Murray came to KC to film some promo spots or when the crew from “Brockmire”— the IFC series starring Hank Azaria — was there to do the same.
He got the word out when Kansas City Chiefs first-round pick out of Texas Tech University — Patrick Mahomes — made a T-Bones game his first public appearance in the area.
“You have to be creative,” says Vaughan, who notes that the AA was home to Pete Rose Jr. (Wichita Wingnuts manager), Billy Martin Jr. (Texas AirHogs manager) and Joe Jackson (KC outfielder and great great grand nephew of the Deadball era star Shoeless Joe Jackson) in 2017.
George Tsamis is now manager of the AA’s Saint Paul Saints. In 1994, he plunked Michael Jordan “ between the 4 and the 5” and Vaughan was there in Birmingham to call it as part of the Jacksonville broadcast. Terry Francona was MJ’s manager during the Basketball Hall of Famer’s baseball interlude.
When Matt Sergey started as a right-hander on a Thursday and relieved as a left-hander on Saturday for KC, Vaughan was sure to accommodate the media who wanted to know more.
“I’ve got to get reasons for them to come out here,” says Vaughan.
He plans to start a KC blog in October and will also launch a podcast.
Down Under, Vaughan does less writing and more videos for YouTube etc. It’s all about being interactive.
“People love the videos,” says Vaughan. “The ball club has become the source (of information). That’s a responsibility that wasn’t there when I first started (in broadcasting after graduating from Texas Tech).”
“We want to get Facebook likes and Twitter clicks.”
Kansas City (Mo.) is home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Buck O’Neil (who died in 2006) was a regular at T-Bones games in the early years of the franchise) and is remembered on the wall at CommunityAmerica Ballpark to this day.
Browne, a Royals bat boy back in the 1980’s, has former second baseman Frank White as a first base coach with the T-Bones.
Vaughan notes that independent baseball is flourishing because of the on-field talent and family entertainment and the second chance it offers for ballplayers. Many teams pick up players through word of mouth or former associations.
“That’s there best recruiting tool,” says Vaughan.
In a few weeks, Vaughan will head into his fifth season based in Western Australia, where he co-hosts “Talking Baseball Australia,” the only live baseball radio show aired on the continent.
Thanks to Vaughan, broadcast partner Paul Morgan and others, the Heat achieved their goal of broadcasting every game — home and away — during the 2016-17 season.
“It was a real commitment,” says Vaughan. “Being online helps. Baseball is still a fringe sport in Australia. Cricket and Australian rules football get more radio and TV coverage during (their) summer.”
Like baseball, cricket is a bat and ball sport. But the rules differ greatly and some matches can go on for days.
Vaughan notes that the Twenty-20 cricket — a short form — is gaining an audience and even has the elements of minor league baseball with promotions and sing-alongs.
“(Cricket) is trying to appeal to a younger crowd,” says Vaughan.
Australian baseball has sent some of its finest players into Major League Baseball.
ABL rules call for six domestic players to be on the field at any given time.
“The spirt of the rule is to grow the game,” says Vaughan.
An MLB showcase is one way for Australian players to get a chance to play in North America and international tournaments — like the U-18 World Cup (held in 2017 in Thunder Bay, Ont.) and U-23 World Cup (held in ’17 in Monterrey, Mexico, with Australia placing second to Japan) are others.
Dan Vaughan, a Texas native and former play-by-play man for the Gary (Ind.) SouthShore RailCats, calls baseball action for the Kansas City (Kan.) T-Bones in the U.S. and Perth Heat in Australia.