06/03/08 6:51 PM ET
KC announcer Lefebvre chats with fans
Broadcaster discusses biggest interviews, moments and more
By / MLB.com
royalfyre: When you were growing up, did you have a favorite baseball announcer? If so what did you like about him?
Lefebvre: I didn't have a favorite baseball announcer because I didn't see myself as being an announcer until college. But the announcer I grew up listening to was Vin Scully of the Dodgers, and when I became interested in broadcasting I started studying him. I think he is so popular in L.A. and around the country because he tells you a lot about the game -- and a lot about the players. So what I try to do as an announcer, like him, is give the fans the game but also introduce them to the players, so that they don't see them as these icons on the field but as people, too. They have likes and dislikes and different personalities, as well as different stories. In a nutshell, I believe that Major League Baseball players are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
canes2299: With the Yankees series this weekend, what is your favorite memory of that place, and if you could have any piece of history what would it be?
Lefebvre: In 1998, I was broadcasting for the Minnesota Twins and I got to broadcast David Wells' perfect game at Yankees Stadium. It was a beautiful early May afternoon game. There were more than 50,000 people there. It was also Beanie Baby Day at the ballpark. So when the game was over they sent his cap, his glove and a Beanie Baby to the Hall of Fame. For me, I have two pieces of that as far as Yankees Stadium history. I have one of the Beanie Babies from that day and the following year David Wells signed my scorecard from that game ... and yes, I plan on having Jon Lester sign my scorecard also.
robbwalter: Have you ever been laughing so hard at something on air that you had to kill your mic? What was so funny?
Lefebvre: My first year with the Royals, in 1999, I was as I often do, having fun with the "Kiss Cam" between innings. So we came back on air after a break, and I reported on a marriage proposal. It went something like this, "We had a very touching moment in between innings at Kauffman Stadium. A young gentlemen named Steve, after seeing himself on the jumbotron got down on a knee in front of his female companion and pulled a ring out of his pocket and proposed. The girl accepted immediately, and they immediately started bawling. Now, during Denny's generation a certain intimate act between a man and a woman was sometimes referred to as "balling" so no sooner had I reported this engagement my partner jerks his head towards me as if to say 'what in the heck did you just say?' And I realized that 'they immediately starting crying' might have been a better choice of words. Denny and I still laugh about that today.
dananicb: Ryan -- who was your most exciting guest in the booth? Anyone you'd like the opportunity to interview?
Lefebvre: I had a chance to interview Hank Aaron when he was at Kauffman Stadium one year, and I was struck at what a kind and humble man he was. Everytime I read about all of the horrible things he had to endure leading up to passing Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list, I really felt sorry for him because ... no one deserves treatment like that, especially not someone like Hank Aaron. Also, I'm not an American Idol fan, but I was blown away at how the stadium just buzzed when David Cook was at the ballpark. I interviewed him in one inning, and I think there were just as many people looking up and taking pictures of the booth as there were watching the game. I was impressed with how genuinely down to earth and humble he was. I could really tell he appreciated but didn't expect all the attention he was getting that day.
Lefebvre: If I could interview two people, one would be sports related and that would be Vin Scully, even though I've known him since I was a little boy, back to when my father played for the Dodgers. I would just love to spend an hour talkling about his career and what he's done over the years to become such a good broadcaster. One of my favorite TV shows is the O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News channel and whether you agree with him or not, Bill O'Reilly is, in my opinion, one of the most prepared and educated man or woman on television. Now that I come to think of it, the reason I like both of them is because they are both insightful, they both bring something fresh every day, and they are both extremely prepared. That is why I try to do every day.
flaroylfan: Are you eventually looking to broadcast on a national level? I live in Orlando and have to say you are hilarious -- my friends and I would love to see you go national!
Lefebvre: When I first got the Minnesota Twins job, I was only 24 years old and for the next four years, I was the youngest announcer in Major League Baseball. It was only natural for some people to predict that I would eventually end up on a national stage, but now that I've done it for 14 years and I've had a few small national opportunities along the way that I didn't take, being a network play-by-play announcer isn't as glamorous as it may appear. It is more travel, it can mean working with different color analysts, producers and truth be told, I'd be announcing for two teams that I didn't really care a whole lot about. That doesn't mean that if someone thought that I was good enough to do that, that I wouldn't give it a shot but it is not really a goal of mine. Being a Royals announcer for 162 games a year is good enough for me.
luckydog7: How much do you get wrapped up in the game you're announcing? Do you try to stay objective?
Lefebvre: On Monday night, I had just gotten back from Toronto and the Royals had lost their eighth consecutive game and my wife asked me that very same question. I told her that I obviously want the Royals to do well, but I want them to do well for themselves and for the fans. I try not to make this about me. It is about the team and the fans. I've gotten better at following that year to year even though I still consider myself a Royals broadcaster and a Royals fan at the same time. However, when the Royals blew that five-run lead on Wednesday night in the ninth inning, I felt sick. I felt like I took a cannonball to the stomach. And I went home that night, and I asked my wife if I could revise my original answer.
dennyfan: What is your favorite play to call: A homer? A squeeze bunt? A diving catch? A called strike out? Or, something else?
Lefebvre: They are all fun to call and the circumstances also add to the drama, but if I had to pick one, I would probably pick a diving catch because when I was a college player, I loved diving for the ball. I know how good it feels to record an out for your team and to take a hit away from the other team.
luckydog7: Do you travel with the club? What's the atmosphere on the plane?
Lefebvre: I do travel on the team charter. The coaches and other staff members sit in the first-class area, us media geeks sit in the middle section, and the players sit in the back. I sit next to TV producer Kevin Shank, but I'll get up and visit with others on the plane during the flight. All of us try and give the players and the coaches their space. If the Royals have just won a game, you'll hear some laughter and some kidding around in the back of the plane. But if they Royals lose, the laughter and the kidding around doesn't come until much later in the flight. When we land in the city, there are two buses waiting for us -- one for the coaches, staff and media and the other one for the players.
canes2299: Also do you know if FSN is going to do games again in the Minors -- for example, like it did with Omaha last season where Frank White did TV?
Lefebvre: Actually those were not FSN games, they were RSTN games, but you may have noticed that FSN has done some Big 12 Baseball and in the fall will cover Big 12 Football and FSN Kansas City in particular will cover K-State Basketball, as well. I haven't heard about any Royals Minor League games to this point, but I know they really want to grow FSN-KC. The issue FSN-KC has is that we're now broadcasting 140 regular-season games. RSTN did 116 regular season games. So there are fewer nights available to run up to Omaha or run down to Springdale and do a game. I'm sure it is in the plans down the road.
tadmerury: Out of the last 10 years, which team Royals team was the most underrated?
Lefebvre: Not do dodge your question, but in my first nine years with the Royals, we've only had one winning team in 2003, so I would be hard pressed to come up with a team that was underrated. The 2004 team was certainly overrated, and the upgrades the Royals tried to make just went up in smoke. I really wish the Royals would have hung on to Raul Ibanez and Brent Mayne because at least as individuals, they were underrated. Maybe the 2004 team would have been a lot better with Brent Maybe at catcher instead of Benito Santigo and Raul Ibanez in left field instead of Juan Gonzales. So now that I reflect, maybe the 2003 team as it was, could be your answer.
Sweeney: What's your favorite ballpark to broadcast at (besides "The K")?
Lefebvre: Number one would be Safeco Field in Seattle for many reasons. I love Seattle, I love seafood, and the ballpark is so unique. On one side you can see the downtown, the other side you can see Mount Rainier, and behind the stadium is Puget Sound. No offense to the Seattle taxpayers, but I don't believe that ballpark being $100 million overbudget was a bad thing because they didn't miss one single corner in that stadium. My second favorite would be Camden Yards in Baltimore. Our hotel is situated on the harbor, and it is a very pleasant walk to the ballpark. There is a big bbq pit out in right field in front of the brick warehouse. During the game the wind blows all the smells of the stadium towards the broadcast booth. It is a very pleasant atmosphere. Plus Baltimore has great crabs.
Lefebvre: I have time for just a few more questions before I have to catch the bus to the ballpark. I think tonight's game is in HD, so I better leave time to shave before I get on the bus. I hope you enjoy my Grateful Dead yellow and black tie night.
4megs4: My 13-year-old daughter watches every Royals game or listens to it. She always has a comment about your commentating. So she's asking how do you stay positive when the team is losing?
Lefebvre: Well as I said in an early answer, I try not to make the broadcast about me. It is about the players, for the fans, and while the Royals haven't been very good the last 10 years, I know the vast majority of our audience loves the Royals and doesn't want to be bombarded with a barrage of negative stats and a negative attitude. That doesn't mean we sugarcoat on the broadcast. I think Splitt and I on TV and Denny and I on radio, have tried to be optimistic, yet honest. There are plenty of other places to go if you want to have a Royals pity party. I don't want our broadcast to be one of those places. I learned very early in my career that I'm not as much a journalist as I am an extension of the Royals Public Relations Department. In the big picture I'm trying to make fans, not eliminate fans.
charlesd12: Hey Ryan, which player do you feel has the best walk-up music? If you had the opportunity to have a walk-up song, what would you choose?
Lefebvre: When I was at the University of Minnesota, I had a walk-up song of a C&C Music Factory Remix of a New Kids on the Block song called "Call It What You Want." It was a pretty cool song, but I don't think anyone at the stadium had any idea that it was a New Kids on the Block song. By the time I got to the plate and the music faded, the teeny-bop voices hadn't kicked in yet. My favorite intro music has to be when Dennys Reyes was pitching for the Royals. When he would jog in from the bullpen, he had some type of Mexican jumping-bean fiesta song. It wasn't the type of song that would inspire anyone to run through a brick wall, but we all looked forward to hearing it.
maestro: In your down time, is your attention towards sports -- or do you try to get a little distance?
Lefebvre: During the offseason, I go through baseball detox and while I follow the happenings of baseball online, just so I don't miss anything, I really don't spend a lot of time watching sports. I try to watch the Chiefs games on Sundays and maybe catch an important Big 12 football or basketball matchup. But I really like to get into news and the issues of the day.
revive__85: Growing up in a baseball family, I'm sure you spent countless hours at the ballpark. Do you have a favorite baseball memory from your childhood that stands out as your favorite?
Lefebvre: In 1980, during my Major League debut as a batboy, my dad was first base coach for the San Francisco Giants and I witnessed a no-hitter thrown by the Dodgers' Jerry Reuss at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. I was only 9 years old, and it was crazy but I loved it. In 1990, I got to sit next to my father when he was managing the Seattle Mariners and witnessed Ken Griffey, Sr.'s debut with the Mariners and playing alongside his song Ken Griffey, Jr. I was in the dugout when father and son had back-to-back hits in the bottom of the first inning. I think that game was against the Royals.
Lefebvre: Thank you for joining me today. I hope that everyone will spend some time with us on FSN-KC tonight. I enjoy interacting with the fans and answering some very thoughtful questions.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.