Over the past 40 years of Royals baseball, many memories stand out that have been well covered and documented in video, pictures, and print. This begins a series of posts throughout the Royals 40th anniversary season about the things that stand in the periphery of those memories. Things that we may not realize are there but without them our memories of our experiences at the ballpark would not be complete.
We begin with the voice of old Municipal Stadium and Royals Stadium.
“Good evening ladies and gentleman and welcome to Royals Stadium…”
Jack Layton was not as nationally recognized as Sherm Feller the gravelly voiced stadium announcer at Fenway Park or the smooth sophisticated style of Bob Sheppard at Yankee Stadium. His was a rich deep booming voice that radiated from the speakers situated on the standards behind the massive 12 story scoreboard and bounced around the concrete, plastic, metal and glass of our modern new stadium. Jack was the voice of Royals Stadium.
“The Kansas City Royals ask that you please do not interfere with baseballs in play. If you should interfere by reaching over the fence, it could seriously damage the chances of either team. The Royals also ask that you please observe the stadium regulation prohibiting the carrying of cans, bottles or liquid containers into the stadium. The Kansas City Royals thank you for your cooperation.”
His delivery echoed the professional appearance the Royals projected in those days. He announced the lineups, the stadium regulations, and pertinent information throughout the game.
“Ladies and gentlemen…please stand and honor America as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings, Our National Anthem.”
In those days the stadium announcer did not have to remind people to remove their hat and place their hat or hand over their heart. Everyone knew what to do out of respect for our country. A recording of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir often performed The Star Spangled Banner before Royals games along with a cartoon playing on the scoreboard complementing the music. But that is a story for another time.
Jack was there for every important event from the beginning of the Royals through the 1985 championship and even served as stadium announcer for the Kansas City A’s. He occasionally would take a game off (it seemed like it was Sundays) where Hugh Bowen the station announcer and substitute weatherman for then KCMO TV 5 would fill in as stadium announcer.
Jack died in 1986 and who knows the stories he could tell from his witnessing so many games. I don’t know if his thoughts were ever written down but it probably would have made a good book. At least I would have found it interesting. As I remember, his sign off at the end of the game was something like this:
“The Kansas City Royals thank you for attending tonight’s game. Please drive home safely and come back again soon. It’s grrreat to have you with us! Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the water spectacular”
Special thanks to inningsago and crowngold on the Royals website forum for info on Jack Layton.