If individuals who have followed the Kansas City sports scene for more than a few decades were to select its Mt. Rushmore of sports legends, the quartet likely would come from a list including such luminaries as Satchel Paige, Len Dawson, George Brett, Tom Watson, George Toma, Tony Gonzales, Bo Jackson… Wait a second.
George Toma? The Nitty Gritty Dirt Man? The Sultan of Sod?
Toma is revered in Kansas City and among professional sports franchises for his long career, where he managed fields with precision. His abilities earned him the respect, but the media also gravitated to him because of his engaging personality and willingness to help it do its job.
Trevor Vance was Toma’s hand-picked successor for Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals some 20 years ago, but actually began working for him 10 years prior to that. Vance not only learned his trade from Toma, but how to work with the media as well. That exposure ramped up this year as the Royals hosted an MLB wildcard game, divisional playoff, championship series and World Series. Vance also served as a spokesman for a local seed and fertilizer producer, appearing in commercials, print ads and periodic radio shows as part of a Royals sponsorship.
“The Royals grounds crew has always had a good relationship with the media,” Vance says. “There is mutual respect because both take pride in their work.” Vance’s advice to his peers is to develop a good relationship with the media and be as helpful as possible when reporters are doing stories.
“I consider the media to be my friend,” he says. “They show our product every day. I want to do my best to help them show it in a good light.”