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BOB WIRZ

While best known as chief spokesman to two major league baseball commissioners for more than a decade and for running his own sports public relations and marketing company since 1985, Bob Wirz has been a professional in the sports world ever since graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1959.

A native of the Nebraska Sandhills village of Halsey, Bob wasted little time when he entered the university before he started broadcasting Huskers events for the campus radio station KNUS and writing stories for the student newspaper, The Daily Nebraskan.

He later had eight years of newspaper, radio and television experience, which started during his senior year at the university as he prepared for work in the professional baseball industry. He had coveted such an opportunity since his youth. Wirz worked in the news and sports departments of The Lincoln Journal, largely covering local high school sports, and then spent a combined four years as sports director of KHAS Radio and KHAS-TV in Hastings, NE.

During this time, he broadcast up to 80 American Legion baseball games a season, including serving as the radio voice of the 1960 American League World Series, plus 50 high school and college basketball games a season and 20-25 football games. He also hosted weekly bowling, wrestling and sports talk shows on both radio and television. He interviewed the likes of Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) and golfing greats Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. One season, prior to much live coverage of games on television, he was the play-by-play voice of University of Nebraska football games, which were shown in their entirety the day after they were played on KHAS-TV.

He later became a member of the sports staff of both The Wichita Eagle and The Denver Post, covering professional, collegiate and high school events.

His first professional baseball position was as Public Relations Director of the Denver Bears (Pacific Coast League) in 1967-68. He was the Kansas City Royals' Publicity Director for their first six seasons (1969-74), and then became Major League Baseball's Director of Information from 1974-85, serving first under Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and later under his successor, Peter Ueberroth.

It was during those years in the New York City offices when baseball started centralizing the organization of its major events, the All-Star Game and World Series, with Wirz coordinating with the host teams to accommodate the requirements of about 600 journalists who needed work space and access to the headline-makers.

He formed Wirz & Associates, Inc. in the spring of 1985, and the client base eventually included such well-known accounts as IBM, Little League Baseball, USA Baseball, Major League Baseball and Baseball America magazine. Wirz and his staff handled publicity as well as many promotions for the highly-acclaimed Rolaids Relief Man program for 21 seasons, and ran national promotions for the hair-color giant Just For Men. He authored a year-round column (Independent Baseball Insider) for 12 years and has become a major voice nationally on Independent Professional Baseball.

Wirz and his wife, Maybeth, reside in Stratford, CT. They have four children and five grandchildren.

THE PASSION OF BASEBALL

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The Passion of Baseball

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Bob Wirz has lived out his childhood dream, growing up in a tiny Nebraska town and cherishing a lifetime working in major league baseball. Using humor and sentimentality plus rare photos, he relives many an exciting moment from an unlikely beginning to being involved with the sport's greats in World Series, All-Star Game and Hall of Fame settings. He was the Kansas City Royals' first publicist and chief spokesman for more than a decade for baseball commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, then successfully ran his own sports public relations and marketing company with clients such as Major League Baseball, Little League, the Rolaids Relief Man, IBM, Just For Men haircolor and Baseball America magazine. Wirz also shares the tear-jerking success and near-success stories he has written for many years about players striving for the major leagues through the wilderness of Independent leagues.

FROM THE CORNFIELDS of rural Nebraska TO New York City SKYSCRAPERS and baseball’s executive suite, Bob Wirz takes us on a one-of-a-kind journey through his life with baseball.

"This book is a look at the journey and experiences of a special man who has devoted his professional life to covering, promoting, advising, and helping others. A tremendous success story" - Tim Mead VP-communications, Los Angeles Angels

"One of the many joys in reading THIS autobiography is knowing it CAME from Bob's front row view of nearly six decades in the game" - Scott Reifert SR VP-communications, Chicago White Sox

"Enjoy the ride in the company of a man you will come to know as a friend"- Fred Claire, former Los Angeles Dodgers VP/GM author of “Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue”

"The Passion of Baseball is a true reflection of how you love our great game" - John Schuerholz VICE CHAIRMAN, Atlanta Braves

“A must-read for baseball fans" - Tal Smith former President and GM, Houston Astros

 

 

 

What people are saying...

"Bob Wirz is almost 80 years old. He has spent most of his adult life connected to baseball, including more than 10 years working in the Commissioner's Office. To paraphrase the insurance commercial, he knows a thing or two because he's seen a thing or two.

Which is not to suggest that "The Passion of Baseball" is some sort of tell-all. It is, instead, a relaxed contemplation of how a young boy from a map-speck town in Nebraska turned a deep love of the game into a long and successful career.

It's been quite a ride and this book strikes a balance between Wirz's personal and professional moments. There is also a balance in the themes that are presented. On the one hand, Wirz clearly feels a certain sense of wonderment that a lad from tiny Halsey (population: 141) could have experienced what he has, including working as the spokesman for two Commissioners (Bowie Kuhn, Peter Ueberroth) and interacting with three U.S. presidents (Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush) as well as Vice President Gerald Ford.

"I understand only about six percent of the general population ends up working in the field we were originally attracted to as youngsters," Wirz wrote. "But there was no doubt whatsoever, or any wavering at any point along the way that I wanted to work in Major League Baseball. I can remember saying on many an occasion, 'I don't care if it is selling peanuts or cotton candy, I want to work in Major League Baseball.'"

Clearly, Wirz exceeded those modest, early goals. But another motif in "The Passion of Baseball" is the understandable pride that, through hard work and tenacity, he was able to ascend to a high position in Major League Baseball and then go out on his own to found the successful Wirz & Associates, while never losing touch with baseball.

As a kid, Wirz built his own scoreboard and kept notebooks with all the statistics he could gather. At the University of Nebraska and the early years of his career, he worked in print and broadcast journalism. He got his first big break when he was hired as publicity director for the expansion Royals, and six years later he moved to the Commissioner's Office in New York. Even after starting his own company, Wirz was deeply involved with Little League and the Rolaids Relief program. As if that wasn't enough, he's held front-office positions for a handful of Minor League and independent league teams.

In case you missed the point, Wirz and his bride even went to a baseball game in San Francisco during their honeymoon.

As in any good memoir, there are plenty of entertaining stories.

It was obviously an amazing experience to set up a Little League program on the South Lawn of the White House that President Bush and Barbara Bush took part in. A neat postscript, Wirz reports, is that Bush kept a "Baseball Encyclopedia" on the lectern so he could recite statistics about the Hall of Famers who were present. Wirz later found out that the 41st president kept the reference book in the Oval Office so it would be handy at all times.

Not every tale in "The Passion of Baseball" involves a big name. One anecdote from Wirz's days with the Royals involved a hard-throwing reliever named Ken Wright, who frustrated team officials with his inability to stick to his diet. So one offseason, Wright went to play winter ball, but only after promising to keep the team informed of his weight.

Sure enough, the missives started coming in, indicating that he was steadily dropping pounds. When Wright got to Spring Training, though, he wouldn't get on the scales.

"The mere sight of him proved the postcards had lied ... by quite a bit," Wirz noted dryly. There's nothing unusual about a kid growing up and dreaming about a career in baseball. Wirz actually did it. And now he's batted out an entertaining recollection on just about every aspect of his inspiring journey. Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

- By Paul Hagen / MLB.com | November 19th, 2016

Information

  • Title: The Passion of Baseball
  • Author: Bob Wirz
  • Genre: Biography/Memoir/Sports/Baseball/Non-Fiction
  • Length: 374 pages
  • Release Date: October 5th, 2016
  • ISBN-13: 978-1536926927
  • Imprint: Veritas

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