PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Longtime South Florida public address announcer Dick Sanford died this week. One mention on social media or even here isn't enough to remember the person he was and how great he was to me.
Many of you may not have met him, but I'm sure you heard his voice. Dick was a PA announcer for many years in West Palm Beach, where I grew up, and at Marlins games at the old ballpark.
I grew up hearing his voice at the old Municipal Stadium in West Palm Beach. I remember making my American Legion team and feeling like a major league player when I stepped up to the plate and heard Dick announce my name. I know I'm not alone in stories like that.
I can't imagine there’s a person who played high school baseball in Palm Beach County in the last 40 years who didn't play or attend a game that Dick announced. He was an encyclopedia of Palm Beach County sports. It's no surprise he was a member of the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame.
On a more personal note, when I got my job at WPLG, he was one of the first people to reach out to me and tell me how proud he was I was able to come back home to work in TV. To this day, he was still one of the few people I know to call me "Willie" when he would see me. That was my nickname growing up and before I got to college.
Over the years, I would see him at the ballpark and chat with him on social media. He had the passion of a kid all the way until his death.
Around West Palm Beach he always spoke highly of me and told people how proud he was of my success. Little did he know I was just happy he even followed what I was doing with my career. But that's the way Dick was. He cared about every name he ever announced and remembered the smallest of details about the thousands of games he worked.
I was one of the many names he announced over the years, from little leaguers to Hall of Fame players. Yet, he made everyone feel like a pro.
He was a gentle person and will be missed for his voice, his passion for baseball and his kindness to so many.
My heart hurts for his family and friends. May he rest in peace.