On October 27, 1985, a baseball sailed through the crisp autumn sky and settled into Darryl Motley's glove for the final out of the seventh game of the World Series. Kansas City celebrated the greatest comeback in World Series history, and the Royals reigned as the first American League expansion team ever to win the championship.
Twenty years later, that championship win over the cross-state rival St. Louis Cardinals remains the Royals' most celebrated moment, but it was not the pivotal moment in the story of the team's owner, Ewing Kauffman. After all, in the history of sports franchises, there have been thousands of team owners. Scores have won the World Series. Some baseball team owners have changed the course of the game. A handful became leading philanthropists and established foundations to benefit society in meaningful ways. Only one did all of these things and constructed a plan that benefited his team and the community it represents years after his death. This is Ewing Kauffman's remarkable legacy.
To chronicle the life and times of its founder, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has produced a vivid and enduring film biography that highlights the events and influences that shaped Ewing Kauffman's life and formed the basis of his donor intent for the Kauffman Foundation.
The film, produced by the award-winning production company Eleventh Day Entertainment, captures Ewing Kauffman's unconventional approach to life—as an entrepreneur, baseball team owner, and philanthropist—and introduces his inspiring story to a whole new generation of Americans. The documentary, which premiered in the fall on Kansas City's PBS affiliate, KCPT, creates a better understanding of Ewing Kauffman and his legacy for the Kauffman Foundation and his hometown.
Mr. Kauffman grew Marion Laboratories from modest beginnings into a billion-dollar pharmaceutical giant. He hired mavericks and encouraged them to bring new thinking and innovations that revolutionized the industry. His business succeeding beyond his wildest dreams, Mr. Kauffman turned his vigor, intellect, and wealth to a style of philanthropy that would dig deep and get at the roots of issues rather than merely addressing the symptoms.
Ewing Kauffman came to baseball ownership reluctantly. With his wife Muriel's support and encouragement, he stepped up to the plate when he was convinced that the team would bring economic muscle to Kansas City. Once he committed to the idea, he poured the same energy, resources, and entrepreneurial genius that made him a successful businessman and philanthropist into the team. His competitive nature and instinct for innovation built a model sports franchise, a spectacular stadium, and a championship-caliber team.
Even in death, Ewing Kauffman left in place heroic measures to ensure the continued presence of the Royals in Kansas City. His intricate plan was a brilliant and noble gesture to keep the Royals in Kansas City, sell the team for a fair price, and have proceeds from the sale go to local charities. It was an act of love for his hometown that few have matched.
Mr. Kauffman's visionary instincts and positive influence extended beyond the game. His response to his players' involvement in baseball's drug scandal was to sow the seeds of the Kauffman Foundation and its pragmatic, fact- and research-based approach to philanthropy that concentrates on finding novel solutions to society's problems.
Ewing Kauffman lived life with a daring desire to shape the future and make others' lives better. He remains a beloved figure, remembered for all that he brought to Kansas City and the nation, and for all that he gave.