Kauffman brings new thinking to transform the hidebound culture of the baseball establishment. In addition to Ewing and Muriel Kauffman, the team’s founding board of directors is made up of longtime friends and associates and Kansas City sports icons, including Charles Hughes, Ernie Mehl, Les Milgram, Earl Smith, Charles Truitt, and Cedric Tallis. Intent on employing the same business principles that he uses to reward and motivate associates at Marion Labs, Kauffman introduces a plan to reward the performance of the Royals office staff. The Royals become the first team in baseball to offer insurance, hospitalization, pension and profit-sharing programs for members of the front office.
Kauffman creates the Royal Lancers, an elite team of boosters, including some of his sales force from Marion Labs, to promote the team and sell season tickets. The team’s aggressive marketing approach yields remarkable results. In November 1968, before the Royals play their first game, The Sporting News reports that sales had reached 7,022, to set a new American League record for season ticket sales.
Faced with the challenge of growing a large and loyal fan base in one of the sport’s smallest markets, the team adopts a regional marketing strategy. The Royals bus caravan introduces players to gatherings of fans and media in Leavenworth, Atchison, Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, Junction City, Salina, Emporia and Wichita in Kansas; Lincoln and Omaha in Nebraska; Des Moines in Iowa; Sedalia, Jefferson City, Columbia, Springfield and Joplin in Missouri; Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Ewing Kauffman hires Cedric Tallis as the Royals first general manager. The expansion team becomes known for making wise draft chooses, shrewd trades, and building a strong farm system. Tallis recruits a management team that includes Lou Gorman, Syd Thrift, Jack McKeon, John Schuerholz and Herk Robinson, who all go on to become general managers of major league clubs.
During his time as owner, Kauffman’s entrepreneurial spirit and competitive nature fuel the team. Eager to put a winning team on the field, the Royals draft promising players with an average of two years of major league experience, and make a series of shrewd trades to stock the roster with young talent. Kauffman hires mavericks and encourages them to bring innovative ideas to the game. He reads Percentage Baseball by Earnshaw Cook, an early proponent of sabermetrics, and Royals scouts and front office staff analyze unique baseball statistics to measure players’ contributions. The unconventional approach to studying the game leads Kauffman to say, “Baseball is full of traditions and myths that don’t stand up to analysis.”