Man behind Royals radio says goodbye after 32 seasons

Posted at 11:29 PM, Oct 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-02 00:29:06-04


After more than three decades with the Kansas City Royals, a team “legend” is saying goodbye. 

Don Free has worked up in the home radio booth as the network’s producer and engineer since 1986. He’s the man responsible for checking circuits, testing microphones, making sure the pregame and radio show always run smoothly. 

“It’s been my office for 81 games a year,” he told 41 Action News with a chuckle. “ And the road has been my other office.” 

Now after 32 seasons with the Royals and a World Series ring, Free is saying goodbye— completing a 50-year career in broadcasting. 

“When I started out, I had a little case with a mixer in it and some headsets. And that was it. And microphones. Now I carry three cases on the road plus a backpack and a briefcase with all the stuff in it,” Free said. 

His first taste of Major League Baseball was back in 1963 at a St. Louis Cardinals game for his 17th birthday. Never did he expect to later work for a rival across the state— let alone for 32 seasons. 

Every game Free has made the drive to and from Topeka where he has lived ever since he was stationed in the Air Force in 1964. He joined the Royals in 1986 after working in Topeka for several years before. He’s the second engineer and producer the team has ever had. 

“I saw [George Brett] get his 3,000th hit in Anaheim, I watched him retire. Frank White retire,” said Free. “Even got to go to a World Series twice.” 

Once he retires, Free plans on spending more time with his family and helping with radio production for Kansas State football games. 

Still, he plans on making the drive down from Topeka to occasionally take in the game as just a fan. 

“It’s just been a great ride. And we are all part of the family. That’s what’s cool about it,” he said.