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Toby's Take: Joining The University of Kansas Health System

 
Toby Cook crouching on the field at Kauffman Stadium

March 22, 2022

My dad took me to my first Royals game in 1976. I was 8 years old. We beat the Oakland A’s, 7-6, and I was hooked. Growing up in Independence, Kansas, I listened to the Royals every night on the radio and dreamed of being a play-by-play announcer. Four and a-half decades later, I’m blessed to say I got to do both: Broadcasting and baseball.

So here I am writing my first blog as director of public relations for The University of Kansas Health System.

How did that happen? I’ve always loved healthcare and the hospital scene. But I can’t say I had designs on working in this fascinating business until recently. I also don’t really buy into the idea of coincidences. Maybe you’ve felt called, felt led, to something you didn’t realize could be your passion. That’s what’s happening to me.

I also don’t really buy into the idea of coincidences. Maybe you’ve felt called, felt led, to something you didn’t realize could be your passion. That’s what’s happening to me.

Broadcasting, baseball and bandages?

That dream of calling play-by-play for my favorite sports team led me to pursue a career in broadcasting. And I actually made a go of it at 4 television stations as an anchor and reporter. A friend and I started the first morning show in the Pittsburg, Kansas/Joplin, Missouri, market back in 1992. We took the show to central Virginia in the mid-90s. He eventually went to the great Northwest, and I managed to score my on-air shot in KC at Fox 4, WDAF-TV. Living the dream.

Then, after emceeing a couple of Royals Charities events as a “celebrity host,” I was offered a chance to promote my Boys in Blue full-time. As vice president of community affairs and publicity, I experienced a great many triumphs in my 14 years with the Royals, not the least of which were the 2012 All-Star Game and 2 World Series appearances. Walking in the World Championship parade in 2015 is a highlight I’ve never quite been able to put in words.

And yet, my greatest Royals memories involve people we were able to help in the community. A great team off the field complemented the team on the field to raise millions of dollars for charity. I played a small role in elevating the team in the community as an important partner. This is where, I think, my TV and baseball experience meets what I’ve seen so far at a world-class health system.

The University of Kansas Health System is all about the patient. But I’ve seen firsthand we’re an incredibly important part of the community. Not just saving lives and healing people. But touching lives in ways most may never see. As a reporter, it was my job to tell stories. Same with baseball. I plan to tell as many stories as I can about the women and men who have made this place essential to the health, wellbeing and pride of a community. And since I’m learning every day how these healthcare heroes do their thing, you can learn right along with me.

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