So another season goes by, and the Kansas City Royals fail to make the playoffs. Heck, they fail to finish .500. It has now been 27 years since the Royals have made the playoffs, but you can at least argue they made the most of it the last time they were there. That year was the crowning achievement for a team that spent many years trying to get over the hump to win a world championship. The beauty was that Ewing Kauffman was able to see the fruits of his labor manifest itself for the benefit of all Kansas Citians.
Ewing Kauffman arguably is the most important Kansas Citian of all time. He was a provider for this town: he had an extremely successful company that provided jobs and tax revenues for this city. He owned a baseball team that provided the entire city with joy, some pain, and then the ultimate in success. He had a foundation that was designed to live longer than he and provide opportunities for many organizations and individuals in this city. The foundation was one his final great gifts to our city. He made sure that his family’s legacy lived on in continued contributions to the fabric of this city. His other great gift was the Royals.
Kansas Citians had no idea when Mr. Kauffman died that every single one of them were in his will. He created a succession plan for the Royals that stipulated that the next owner of the Royals had to meet 2 conditions:
- The team had to remain in Kansas City
- The proceeds of the sale had to go to charities in the Kansas City area
Every citizen of Kansas City benefited from his generosity. They all received a major league baseball team, and charities around town received money to help them operate. This was his crowning achievement: that the Royals were a fundamental part of his philanthropy. But they were only a small part.
The real gift to this community was his spirit of giving. A spirit that exists today with the Kauffman Foundation. And the gift of the Royals seems to have been forgotten, because while Mr. Kauffman knew how important the Royals were to the community, the community has spit on the memory of Mr. Kauffman by demanding and expecting that the Royals will be what he delivered while he was alive.
In death, he delivered his team, but he didn’t expect to have to deliver his expectations. His hope was that Kansas City would appreciate and support his team…their team…while continuing to be the Kansas City he wanted to support to perpetuity. At some point, the people of Kansas City forgot this gift, and now feel entitled to victory and championships because it was their birthright while he was alive.
But Ewing Kauffman is dead, and his spirit lives in so many areas around Kansas City except in the fan base that goes through the turnstiles at the stadium he built. At some point, Kansas Citians need to take a step back and realize how lucky they are that a man with a vision gave them a team to watch 20 years after his death.