Kauffman builT expansion team from ground up
By CRAIG MUDER
November 20, 2009
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Ewing Kauffman was not afraid to start things from scratch.
In both the business world and the baseball landscape, Kauffman’s work produced success.
|Ewing Kauffman is one of twenty finalists for election to the Hall of Fame Class of 2010 by the Veterans Committee. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)|
Kauffman, who owned the Kansas City from their birth in 1969 until his death in 1993, is one of 10 finalists on this year’s Veterans Committee executives/pioneers ballot at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Veterans Committee will vote on Dec. 6 at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, and the results of the vote will be announced Dec. 7. The results of the Veterans Committee election for managers/umpires will also be announced on Dec. 7.
The 10 candidates on the executives/pioneers ballot are: Gene Autry, Sam Breadon, John Fetzer, Bob Howsam, John McHale, Marvin Miller, Gabe Paul, Jacob Ruppert, Bill White and Kauffman. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all ballots cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2010.
Born Sept. 21, 1916, near Garden City, Mo., Kauffman overcame childhood health problems to become an Eagle Scout. He served in the Navy in World War II, then embarked on a career as a pharmaceutical salesman. In 1950, Kauffman founded Marion Laboratories – a pharmaceutical company whose identity was taken from Kauffman’s middle name.
By 1987, Forbes Magazine listed Kauffman as one of the United States’ 400 richest people.
In 1968, the American League unanimously chose Kauffman as the owner of the league’s 1969 expansion team in Kansas City – which was left without a major league team when the A’s moved to Kansas City before the 1968 season.
“Kauffman’s financial responsibility was a big factor,” said Arthur Allyn, then the president of the Chicago White Sox and the chairman of the ownership screening committee. “His reputation is excellent.”
Kauffman lived up to that reputation by quickly turning the Royals into a contender. Kansas City cracked the .500 mark in just its third season, and starting in 1976 the Royals made the playoffs in five out of six seasons – including a 1980 World Series appearance.
“No one will ever know what he’s meant to this town, the entire community and this ball team,” said Hall of Famer George Brett, whose talent and drive helped fuel the Royals success for two decades. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for (Kauffman) and considered him a true friend.”
Kauffman’s innovative approach to developing talent helped unearth players like Brett, Frank White and Dennis Leonard via the Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy, a $1 million complex built by Kauffman in Sarasota, Fla. The Academy regularly pushed new talent into the Royals’ system, allowing Kauffman’s team to build from within.
By 1985, much of that talent was aging. But Brett led the team to one last glory season – hitting .335 to lead the Royals to the playoffs and a World Series win over their in-state rivals, the Cardinals. For Kauffman, it was the crowning achievement of a baseball career dedicated to hard work and smart business practices.
From 1975-85, the Royals finished in first or second place in every season and finished below .500 just twice.
Off the field, Kauffman established the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to advance entrepreneurship and improving the education of children. Kauffman also volunteered to fund postgraduate education for students at Kansas City-area schools if they agreed to abide by certain standards.
Through his will, Kauffman arranged for a succession plan to keep the Royals in Kansas City. Today, the team’s stadium is named after him.
“He said he never wanted anything named after him that had bricks and mortar,” said his wife Muriel when Royals Stadium was renamed Kauffman Stadium on July 2, 1993. “I told him: ‘There’s a baseball diamond there, dear.’”
Kauffman died on Aug. 1, 1993.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum