Ewing Kauffman Born: September 21, 1916 (Garden City, Mo.)
Graduated: Junior College of Kansas City (Mo.) 1936
Died: August 1, 1993 (aged 76)
It would be nice to think that Kansas City would have somehow ended up with a Major League Baseball team on its own at some point in the city’s sport-enthused history, but Ewing Kauffman made that a reality for Kansas City in 1969.
Known as the man who established the Kansas City Royals in 1969 as an MLB expansion team, Ewing Kauffman is a household name throughout the states of both Kansas and Missouri. It’s hard not to be, when he has a stadium named after him that’s famous for two World Series, a fountain in the outfield and a giant crown-shaped TV front and center in the ballpark.
Kauffman was well ahead of his time in the construction of Kauffman Stadium, which was originally called Royals Stadium. Royals Stadium was the only sports facility that was built for baseball and baseball only between 1966 (opening of Los Angeles Angels’ Angel Field) and 1991 (Chicago White Sox’s Guaranteed Rate Field). The stadium’s status as a baseball-only facility meant it was part of an illustrious group that included other iconic fields such as the Chicago Cub’s Wrigley Field and Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park.
He was a man known to always have the fans in mind. Perhaps most famously, following the Royals’ 1980 World Series loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, he ordered season tickets to be cut off at 15,000 for the following seasons. He did this so non-season ticket holding fans would be able to purchase tickets for postseason games, rather than most of the seats being taken up by season ticket holders. His confidence in his team to continue its success was warranted too, as the Royals made three of the next five postseasons, ultimately winning the World Series in 1985.
But Kauffman wasn’t just an entrepreneur. He was a humanitarian too, whose selfless work all throughout his life has helped millions of Kansas Citians. His work with organizations such as Project Choice and The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation allowed Kauffman to help underprivileged youth in Kansas City obtain a good education realize their ultimate potential.
Even long after his death in 1993 due to bone cancer, The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation continues his mission, encouraging entrepreneurship, supporting education and contributing to Kansas City civic life.
In lieu with his work in Kansas City, Kauffman was a longtime resident of Kansas, despite being born in Garden City, Missouri. He attended high school at Westport High School, Missouri, before switching to the Kansas side of the border where he would eventually spend the majority of his life. He eventually settled down in a massive house in Mission Hills, Kansas, where he would live until his death and pass on down to his daughter, Julia Kauffman.
Kauffman’s work both within and outside the Kansas City Royals organization was ultimately recognized in May 1993, when Kauffman was named to the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame. The occasion sadly would be the last time Kauffman made a public appearance at Royals Stadium. Later that year, on July 2, 1993, the Royals would officially change the name of Royals Stadium to Kauffman Stadium in honor of the man who made the baseball dreams of Kansas City come true. Sadly, Kauffman passed away just one month later in August 1993.
To this day, Kauffman Stadium is one of just two Major League stadiums that is named after a person, following suit of Wrigley Stadium which is named after former-owner William Wrigley Jr.
Ewing Kauffman brought joy to the people of Kansas City, not only on the field of play in the way of two World Series and several American League pennants since 1969, but off the field too, helping those in need and improving Kansas City through his philanthropy and love for the city.