Vitale is more low-key for fans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. --- This isn't the Dick Vitale you know from television. There's no bombastic pronouncements, no frenetic arm movements or head bobbing, no shouts of "Awesome, baby!" or "Better get a T-O!"


It's just Vitale, sitting in a bookstore, quietly signing copies of his new book for hundreds of fans.

Who would have believed it? One of college basketball's most popular announcers comes with volume control. He still has the same emotion, same affability that comes across on the TV, it's just much more subdued.

"I have a great time doing these," Vitale said after signing books for two hours. "I love meeting people, talking to people."

That passion is there in the bookstore, too, evident in the interactions with every fan who has a story about their own struggles with cancer, friends or family who have battled the disease.

Vitale has been a supporter of cancer research since his friend, former North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano, died in 1993, and his resolve to fight the disease became stronger with a throat cancer scare last year. Proceeds from his new book, Dick Vitale's Fabulous 50 Players and Moments in College Basketball , go to the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

"This is for my brother, Ted, who's fighting colon cancer," one fan told Vitale. "He's a big fan of yours."

"You tell him I said to keep up the fight -- don't give in to it," Vitale said as he signed the book.

Vitale's thoughtfulness was also there at the end of the signing, when he walked out and shook hands with a Salvation Army worker who had been standing outside the door for hours.

"Get this man a book," Vitale said just before signing the inside cover and handing it to the man. "Keep up the good work."