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Kauffman | 1968 to 1993

Milestones and pivotal moments from Ewing Kauffman's early steps to extend his outreach in Kansas City and beyond by establishing the Kansas City Royals and creating his philanthropic foundation to his death and enduring legacy.

Opportunity and Conviction

Ewing Kauffman establishes the Kansas City Royals and his philanthropic foundation with the same sense of opportunity and convictions he brings to his business endeavors. He introduces unconventional ideas to baseball and directs the Kauffman Foundation to focus on innovations that advance education and entrepreneurship.

Ball Team
Ewing Kauffman makes headlines by bringing baseball back to his hometown

After a series of antics and numerous threats to move the franchise, Athletics owner Charles O. Finley abandons Kansas City, moving the team after the 1967 season. The Athletics leave Kansas City for Oakland without ever producing a winning team. At the urging of a strong Kansas City lobby, Major League Baseball, looking to expand to 24 teams, agrees to grant Kansas City one of its four expansion teams if a viable local owner steps forward. With his wife Muriel’s support and encouragement, Kauffman steps up to the plate when he is approached by a delegation of civic leaders who are hoping to convince Major League Baseball that there is sufficient financial backing in Kansas City to support an expansion baseball franchise. Kauffman pitches his proposal by traveling around the country to personally meet baseball owners.

WATCH: “A Crowning Achievement” | 1:39

In January 1968, Major League Baseball awards an American League franchise to Ewing Kauffman to establish a team in Kansas City. He launches the team with an initial investment of $7 million. Kauffman is driven by his sense of civic responsibility and the economic boost Major League Baseball would provide to the region. Once he commits to the idea, he pours the same energy, resources, and innovative thinking that made him a successful businessman into the team. “Kansas City has been good to me, and I want to show I can return the favor,” Ewing Kauffman says after American League club owners unanimously approve his bid for the team.

Kansas City has been good to me, and I want to show I can return the favor.

— Ewing Kauffman
Royals cartoon
The Kansas City Star reports on the names fans submit for the team

In March 1968, the team holds a contest to name the team. Fans suggest the Plowboys, Pythons, Canaries, Bovines, Batmen, various Indian tribes, the Caps, Capsules, and even worse the Kauffs, Kauffies, and Kauffers. Ewing Kauffman prefers the Kings, Stars, or Eagles. After weeks of speculation, the team is named the Kansas City Royals in honor the city’s annual American Royal livestock show and parade. The name also pays homage to Kansas City’s rich baseball heritage by recalling the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

The Royals choose blue and white, the colors of Kauffman’s horseracing stable, as the team’s colors and artists with Hallmark Cards design prototypes for the team’s logo.

WATCH: “A Royal Beginning | Ewing Marion Kauffman” | 2:02

Stepping Up to the Plate

Kauffman’s entrepreneurial spirit and competitive nature fuel the Kansas City Royals.

Ewing and Muriel Kauffman

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.

WATCH: “WDAF – from Signal Hill | Kansas City Royals” | 1:13
WATCH: “Royals hire baseball people | Ewing Marion Kauffman” | 1:06

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.”

Kauffman and Tallis
Ewing Kauffman and Royals General Manager Cedric Tallis recruit 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.
WATCH: “The first game at Municipal and building a new stadium” | 1:58

Fans celebrate the return of Major League Baseball to Kansas City.

Kansas City celebrates the return of Major League Baseball on April 8, 1969, as the Kansas City Royals take the field for the first time on Opening Day. Team owner Ewing Kauffman joins fans at Municipal Stadium at 23rd and Brooklyn. Lou Piniella showcases the team’s hard-charging style of play by leading off the bottom of the first inning with a double and coming around to score the Royals first run ever.

First Win
The Kansas City Royals celebrate their first win, April 8, 1969

Fans watch the Royals rally from a 3-1 deficit against the Minnesota Twins to force the game into extra innings. Kansas City earns a dramatic 4-3 victory when pinch hitter Joe Keough’s bases-loaded single drives in the winning run in the 12th inning. After the Royals beat the Twins the next night by the same 4-3 score in 17 innings, Minnesota manager Billy Martin says, “If the Royals keep playing like that, they might never lose a game.”

Ewing Kauffman signs autographs from his front row seat at Municipal Stadium, the Royals home from 1969 to 1972

Recounting the day Royals took the field for the first time, Kansas City Star Sports Editor Joe McGuff writes, “It was one of the most emotional scenes in the history of the old ballpark.” When Kauffman was introduced he responded to the fans’ ovation saying, “If you do not believe I’ve been repaid in full for buying the Kansas City Royals baseball team by your wonderful applause, then you are sadly mistaken. As long as I live, this will be your team, forever and forever.”

On August 4, 1969, Ewing Kauffman makes his stage debut at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City. Kauffman is cast as the Commissioner of Baseball in a production of Damn Yankees featuring Cyd Charisse. The Royals end the club’s inaugural season with a 69-93 record, finishing fourth in the six-team AL West. The club records the best season of the four expansion teams debuting in 1969, and Royals outfielder Lou Piniella is selected as the American League’s Rookie of the Year.

During the Royals first season, Ewing Kauffman contributes $32,500 to the YMCA to fund a boys’ baseball league, a girls’ softball league, a drill team, a youth forum, a choral group and a Junior Lancers program.

The Kauffmans at the Ballpark

Starting at Municipal Stadium, Muriel and Ewing Kauffman were a consistent and accessible presence at ballgames, and enthusiastic supporters of their Royals.

Exploring the Science of Baseball

Kauffman challenges conventional wisdom with an original plan for developing players.

The idea for the Academy came from Royals owner Ewing Kauffman, a dynamic man of creative genius who loved to tackle problems. We have not had an owner in my judgment that have had a new idea, or a vision since Mr. Kauffman.

— Syd Thrift
Director, Royals Baseball Academy
Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated features Ewing Kaufman’s unconventional approach to building a winning sports franchise

Ewing Kauffman stuns the baseball world and some of his own executives by announcing that he intends to found and operate an academy in Sarasota, Florida, devoted entirely to honing the proven physical skills of undrafted athletes, even those who had not played organized baseball. The Kansas City Royals open the Royals Baseball Academy in Sarasota, Florida, in August 1970.

Gulf Coast
Without a single drafted player on the team, The first Royals Academy team wins 23 of its first 28 games, takes the Gulf League title with a record of 40-13, for a .755 winning percentage, without ever being held scoreless in a game. The team leads the league in both team batting average, at .257, and team earned run average, at 2.07. They steal 103 bases, 48 more than the next closest team, and are caught stealing only 16 times.

The 121-acre campus features five baseball diamonds all built to the precise dimensions of the major league stadium being planned for Kansas City. Tests to determine speed, eyesight, reflexes, balance and personality traits are developed by a staff that includes a psychologist who had worked with NASA and the Office of Naval Research, a research psychologist, ophthalmologists, college and professional baseball coaches and trainers.

Tryouts to select the inaugural class for the Kansas City Royals’ Baseball Academy are held in Sarasota, Florida, on February 27-28, 1971. Academy Director Syd Thrift tells The Sporting News that the first tryout would be followed by 100 or more others at various sites in the United States and Canada. Players selected to join the Academy receive a year’s intensive baseball instruction and also attend Manatee Junior College. In its first season, the Academy team wins 96 games and loses 31 against junior college and college teams. The team puts together 24 consecutive victories and captures 10 of 14 games played on a goodwill tour of Latin America.

WATCH: “His Noble Experiment: The Royals Baseball Academy | Ewing Marion Kauffman” | 2:54
Opening Night
Ewing and Muriel Kauffman on opening night at Royals Stadium, April 10, 1973

The Royals new home makes a big splash with a spectacular debut.

At a time when other cities were building cookie-cutter, multipurpose sports facilities Ewing Kauffman goes against the trend to build Royals Stadium, a spectacular home for the team that is decades ahead of its time. When work delays threaten the opening of the stadium, Ewing Kauffman adds nearly $7 million to make sure it would open in time for the 1973 season and be available to host the 1973 All Star game. Royals Stadium is the sole baseball-only facility built in the majors between 1962 and 1991.

Blueprints for a new ballpark

Royals Stadium opens on April 10, 1973 as part of the Harry S Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City. Designed by Kivett & Meyers, a pioneering sports stadium architectural firm in Kansas City, the Royals’ home incorporates the best of Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium, with 40,793 seats, all facing second base and arranged in three tiers. The stadium’s prominent features include water fountains beyond the outfield fence and a 10-story high scoreboard shaped like the Royals crest, topped by a gold crown. The 322-foot wide water spectacular is the largest privately-funded fountain in the world. The stadium features an artificial surface, and Royals management begins to build a team around speed and pitching.

WATCH: “Kansas City Royals 1971 – A Bright New Era | Ewing Marion Kauffman” | 1:51
Frank White
The star pupil of the Royals Baseball Academy, Frank White goes on to win eight Gold Gloves Award, play in five All Star Games, and earns a place in the Royals Hall of Fame

A 22–year-old shortstop and Kansas City native makes his major league debut on June 12, 1973, as a late-inning replacement in Baltimore. A product of the Royals Baseball Academy, Frank White moves to second base where he wins eight Gold Gloves and earns his way into the Royals Hall of Fame. White carries the nickname Academy with him during his career. Before the end of the ’73 season White is joined by fellow infielder George Brett, who goes on to a stellar career on his way to induction in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Both Brett’s uniform number, 5, and White’s number, 20, would be retired by the Royals.

Kauffman reluctantly agrees with his Royals management team to end the Royals Baseball Academy and apply resources to more traditional player development programs. “The Academy was costing me $600,000 a year, so I thought I’d better cut it back. If I’d known what I know now, I would have kept the Academy and we would have created a dynasty,” he would say later. Despite the decision to close the academy, Ewing Kauffman’s innovative approach to developing baseball players is featured in both Sports Illustrated and The Wall Street Journal. Training techniques and technology introduced and developed at the academy, including the use of radar guns, pitching machines for fielding drills, videotaping, mandatory stretching, strength and conditioning equipment and even stopwatches, all become standard practice across the game. Years later the academy system serves as the model for developing young players from Latin America.

Kauffman delivers on his promise to bring a winning team to Kansas City.

Buck Martinez
Ewing Kauffman celebrates the Royals first division championship with catcher Buck Martinez

On October 9, 1976, the Kansas City Royals take the field for the first time in the postseason. Kauffman promised baseball fans a winning team and he delivered. The Royals set a new standard of excellence for an expansion club by posting a winning record in just the team’s third season. The Royals win their first American League West Division title and prepare to host the New York Yankees to open the American League Championship series. It is an historic Saturday afternoon for the city; the Kansas City Athletics had moved to Oakland without ever having made the playoffs or even managing to record a winning record in thirteen seasons. The Yankees win the first game of the series, but the next night on October 10, 1976, the Royals even the series with a 7-3 win to record the team’s first postseason victory. New York goes on to win the American League pennant only to be swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1976 World Series. The Royals rebound by posting the best regular season record in all of Major League Baseball in 1977.

The Royals record a winning record in the team’s third season, make the playoffs faster than any expansion club before them and boast the best record in Major League Baseball in 1979

As Ewing Kauffman thinks about the role and potential impact of charitable giving, two episodes influence his view. In late 1978, early 1979, during one of the coldest Kansas City winter seasons on record, he is asked to contribute money to help people withstand the harsh weather. The next winter he is approached again for a donation, but he becomes frustrated that the effort is only throwing money at the symptoms without making meaningful progress to help people on a path of self-sufficiency, grounded in a good job that provides a living wage and decent benefits.

World Series Tickets
The Royals play in the World Series in 1980 and 1985. After the team’s 1980 appearance in the Fall Classic Ewing Kauffman caps season tickets sales so longtime fans without season tickets are able to continue to attend games.

Soon after, Kauffman is dismayed and disappointed when some of his players are involved in baseball’s drug scandal of the early 1980s. Together, these experiences sow the seeds for the Kauffman Foundation’s pragmatic and research-based approach to philanthropy that concentrates on the root cause of society’s problems and finding novel solutions to those problems.

After years of playoff frustration, the Royals defeat the New York Yankees on October 10, 1980, to win the American League Pennant and a ticket to the World Series. The Royals take the first two World Series games ever played in Kansas City but fall short in the series with the Philadelphia Phillies, losing in six games. After the 1980 World Series the demand for Royals season tickets reaches an all-time high. Despite the season ticket windfall, Ewing Kauffman orders the team to cap season ticket sales as 15,000 so that regular season game tickets would be available for fans who do not have season tickets.

Unleashing the power of human potential to fundamentally change people’s lives.

WATCH: “The start of philanthropy” | 1:29
Royals Stadium
Ewing Kauffman opens the outfield in Royals Stadium to teach thousands of people how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Ewing and Muriel Kauffman receive the national Red Cross Man and Woman of the Year Award in November 1981 for their efforts to teach CPR to thousands of people. CPR NOW begins in the late 1970s as an in-house health and safety program for associates of Marion Labs and grows into Mr. Kauffman’s first major foray into operating a philanthropic program. On weekends during the baseball team’s road trips, Kauffman opens the gates of Royals Stadium to teach hundreds people CPR. During the course of the program, Marion volunteers team up with trainers from the American Heart Association and the Red Cross to teach 125,000 people how to perform CPR.

He [was] the most complex, the most interesting, the most really generous foundation donor that I have ever worked with … The first impression I had was a very strong attachment to his own home city, his own home community.

— Wally Neilson
Advisor, Kauffman Foundation, Philanthropy Scholar and Author

Business card
Ewing Kauffman’s Foundation business card

After making his fortune in the health care field, Ewing Kauffman initially considers funding programs to train doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. He seeks counsel from Waldemar Nielsen and John Gardner, preeminent national figures whose works reveal the shortcomings of modern philanthropic foundations, which stray from the original intentions of the donor and lose their vitality, daring and focus. Seeking to define his philosophy and structure for his foundation, Kauffman considers the education he received and the chance to operate his own business to be the pivotal opportunities of his life. He takes an unconventional approach, directing the Kauffman Foundation to focus on advancing education and entrepreneurship in meaningful ways that unleash the human potential and fundamentally changes people’s lives. Nielsen calls Ewing Kauffman “the most complex, the most interesting, the most really generous foundation donor that I have ever worked with.”

Ewing Kauffman’s early notes on his foundation

Ewing Kauffman taps members of the executive talent team at Marion Labs, including Bob Rogers, Jim McGraw, Mike Herman, Michie Slaughter, Carl Mitchell, and Tom Rhone to take key roles in shaping the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

In 1984, the Kauffman Foundation launches Project STAR, a drug prevention program, in metropolitan Kansas City. Over the course of ten years, more than 100,000 students participate in the program, which leads President George H. W. Bush to appoint Kauffman to a presidential commission on drug prevention in 1989. STAR is joined by a series of Youth Development programs operated by the Kauffman Foundation that include an early childhood education program called Project Early, a dropout prevention program called Project Choice and a program to build self-esteem in young men and women called Project Essential. Ewing Kauffman later becomes the 16th person to be honored by President Bush’s daily Points of Light tribute to 1,000 Americans who make a positive difference.

WATCH: “Project STAR | Ewing Marion Kauffman” | 1:18

The Royals reign as kings of the baseball world.

He took a lot of pride in how we played, and I’ll never forget playing third base out there. As soon as the seventh-inning stretch came up, you’d always see Mr. Kauffman lean out and wave to everybody.

— George Brett
Third baseman, Kansas City Royals
World Champions
World Champions

On October 27, 1985, a baseball sails through the crisp autumn sky and settles into Darryl Motley’s glove for the final out of the seventh game of the World Series. With the 11-0 victory, the Kansas City Royals seal the greatest comeback in World Series history and reign as the first American League expansion team ever to win the championship. The Royals are also the only team to ever come back from a three-games-to-one deficit twice in the same postseason and the first team to lose its first two games at home and rally to win the Series. The 1985 championship over the cross-state rival St. Louis Cardinals remains one of the Royals’ most celebrated moments and stands as a crowning achievement for team owner Ewing Kauffman.

President Ronald Reagan welcomes the 1985 World Champions to the White House

Kauffman spends his personal fortune to improve the quality of his baseball team and give fans a championship-caliber organization. His team’s payroll is near the top of the league and he originates lifetime contacts to keep his best players in Royals uniforms. After an agreement with a prospective ownership partner fails to materialize, Kauffman buys the partner’s share of the team at auction and regains full control of the club in 1990. Kauffman begins issuing warnings in the early 1990s about the lack of competitive balance in baseball and the need for a form of revenue sharing to even the playing field.

Muriel Kauffman carves out her own philanthropic legacy by establishing the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation in 1987. In 2022, its name changed to Muriel McBrien Kauffman Family Foundation. Mrs. Kauffman’s foundation focuses on her passionate support of the performing and visual arts. Music, dance and theater productions large and small benefit from her support, and she casts a vision that later serves as the inspiration for building a world-class performing arts center in Kansas City.

The promise of Project Choice gives students the chance of a lifetime.

WATCH: “Project Choice | Ewing Marion Kauffman” | 3:29
Project Choices
Project Choice contract

On April 7, 1988, 240 eighth grade students and their teachers gather in the auditorium of Westport High School to hear Ewing Kauffman, one of their school’s most famous alumni. Kauffman outlines his ambitious plan to encourage all of the students in the assembly to stay in school and graduate. In return, Kauffman promises that his Foundation’s Project Choice program will offer full scholarships for college or post-secondary education along with an array of support services to help the students reach their goals. “You, you and every one of you,” he promises, “can go to college if you choose.” Project Choice operates from 1988 to 2001 and becomes a signature program of the Kauffman Foundation. In addition to four full classes at Westport High School (Class of 1992- Class of 1995), the program welcomes smaller cohorts of students from Harmon, Schlagle, Washington, Wyandotte high schools and Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in Kansas City, Kansas.

Project Choice Speech
Ewing Kauffman extends the promise of a college education
Good Morning America
Good Morning America comes to Kansas City on May 17, 1991 to cast the spotlight on Ewing Kauffman and Project Choice students
Project Choices Students
Ewing Kauffman tells Kansas City, “If you give those kids hope for the future, if you let them know that somebody cares about them, you’ll be surprised at what they can achieve.”

The kids just loved to bring their grades to him and show him how they had progressed. He was truly, not Mr. Kauffman the billionaire, but Mr. Kauffman their friend. He told them that they had an opportunity to accomplish anything in the world.

— Tom Rhone
Director Project Choice, Kauffman Foundation Trustee

Ewing Kauffman’s Marion Laboratories cracks the Fortune 500 list in 1988 as the 430th largest industrial corporation in the U.S. It improves to 389th place in 1989 and climbs to rank 354th the following year. During that period, sales grow nearly three times the pharmaceutical industry average.

Kauffman with baseball bats
Ewing Kauffman promises Royals fans a winning team and he delivers

Marion Laboratories merges with Merrell Dow in 1989 to form Marion Merrell Dow, with Ewing Kauffman serving as Chairman Emeritus. The company, which began in 1950 with a $5,000 investment and Mr. K as the only associate, reports a net profit of $227 million and provides jobs for 3,400 associates. The merger makes 300 Marion Labs associates instant millionaires and the deal creates the fifth largest drug company in the United States in terms of sales.

On September 24, 1989, the Kansas City Royals set the team’s all-time season attendance mark by welcoming 2,477,700 baseball fans to Kansas City. Operating in one of the sport’s smallest markets, the Royals fan base stretches across the Midwest. During Ewing Kauffman’s years as the team’s owner, Royals fans fill the stadium and top the magic two-million season-attendance mark seven seasons in a row, and eleven times in all. The Royals single-season attendance record stands for 27 years.

During the Royals’ glory years, from 1975 to 1989, the team makes more postseason appearances than any other team in baseball. The Royals win six division titles, two American League pennants, and the 1985 World Series Championship. In the 25 seasons with Kauffman at the helm, the Royals post winning records 16 times. The team wins 51 percent of its regular season games and never finishes in last place.

An Uncommon Philanthropy

WATCH: “WDAF – from Signal Hill | Philanthropy” | 2:05

Kauffman’s unconventional approach extends to his foundation.

Leaders of the Kauffman Foundation hold a strategic planning session near the end of 1990 to explore the possibility of undertaking a program to help entrepreneurs. Reports from the gathering identify several opportunities where the Foundation might direct its resources to train existing entrepreneurs, sponsor undergraduate education and applied academic research, support business incubators and technical parks, and study venture capital networks.

WATCH: “The power to choose” | 6:10

On June 2, 1992, Ewing Kauffman delivers the commencement address at Westport High School graduation for the Class of 1992. Four years earlier, Kauffman had promised that his Foundation’s Project Choice program would offer full scholarships for college or post-secondary education along with an array of support services to help the students reach their goals. As the featured speaker at the school’s commencement ceremony, Mr. K tells the graduates “With your high school graduation, you now have the power to choose what you will make of your lives. Choose well. Choose well.”

Ewing Kauffman surrounded himself with very bright people. He would wear them out with questions. A major part of the Foundation is devoted to bringing forth new and different ideas. He was driven to be circle by creative ideas.

— Gene Budig
American League President, Kauffman Foundation Trustee
Ewing Kauffman recalls his life and times

Ewing Kauffman is persuaded to sit for a series of interviews with Bob Barrett. Recorded in installments in the video production studios of Marion Labs, Kauffman tells his life story, highlighting his earliest memories of boyhood, years in the Navy, starting Marion Labs, establishing the Kansas City Royals, and founding the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In addition to recounting anecdotes from his life, Kauffman offers valuable insights for how associates and trustees of the Foundation should conduct themselves and carry out his donor intent.

Entrepreneurial Leadership

Easing the path for those on their entrepreneurial journey.

The Kauffman Foundation establishes the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in March 1992. Headed by former Marion Labs executive Michie Slaughter, the Center is devoted to training entrepreneurs, developing awareness, contributing to curriculum development and fostering strategic relationships within the national entrepreneurial networks. To underscore his commitment to the program, Ewing Kauffman announces he is willing to devote half of Foundation’s estimated annual endowment of $50 million to the initiative. The Kauffman Foundation works alongside educators, researchers, and other partners to better understand and improve the environment in which entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Listen to Ewing Kauffman speak at the FastTrac Kickoff 15:22

Mr. K was interested in helping entrepreneurs long before … he got interested in creating a significant foundation. There are a number of entrepreneurs who credit (their) success to Mr. K’s advice and his mentorship.

— Michie Slaughter
Associate, Marion Labs, Associate Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership

On January 9, 1993, the day the Kauffman Foundation plans to unveil a new program for aspiring entrepreneurs, Kansas City is hit with one of the biggest snowstorms in the city’s history. The storm covers the region with 10.5 inches of snow, but it doesn’t stop nearly 1,000 people from crowding into the Allis Plaza Hotel for the introduction of the Kauffman FastTrac program to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.

Listen to the FastTrac theme song 3:25

Those who attend see Ewing Kauffman make what would be his last public appearance on behalf of the Kauffman Foundation as he shares his principles and philosophies for building a company from scratch. “You should not choose to be a common company,” he says, paraphrasing a passage from An American’s Creed by Dean Alfange. “It’s your right to be uncommon if you can. You seek opportunity to compete. You desire to take the calculated risk, to dream, to build, yes, even to fail, and to succeed.”

The Kauffmans at Home

WATCH: “WDAF – from Signal Hill | The Kauffmans at home” | 2:03
Ewing Kauffman enters the Royals Hall of Fame

The reward for doing good is the opportunity to do more.

Royals Farewell
Ewing Kauffman’s last public appearance at the ballpark ends with a familiar wave

On May 23, 1993, Ewing Kauffman makes his last public appearance at Royals Stadium when he is inducted into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame. In the days leading to the ceremony there is concern that Kauffman’s declining health would prevent him from accepting the honor in person. Not only does he make the pre-game ceremony, he shows up in style, wearing a bright blue suit with matching socks, blue patent leather shoes, and a Royals’ necktie. During his remarks he credits the associates of the Royals, along with the Royal Lancers, for the success of the team, and he thanks the fans for their devotion to the team and urges them to continue to support efforts to keep the Royals in Kansas City. Driven from the field past a cheering crowd, Kauffman rolls down the window for one last wave.

WATCH: “The Royals succession plan” | 1:38

After efforts to bring partners into the Royals ownership group fail, Kauffman develops innovative measures to ensure the Royals would stay in Kansas City after his death. His intricate and groundbreaking plan dictates that the new owner would agree to keep the Royals in Kansas City, sell the team for a fair price, and have proceeds from the sale go to local charities. Kansas City Star sports columnist Joe Posnanski calls Mr. K’s final gift to baseball fans in his hometown a noble gesture that few, if any, benefactors have ever matched.

Royals patch
The memorial patch worn by the Royals to honor Ewing Marion Kauffman

One of the crown jewel ballparks of Major League Baseball is officially renamed in honor of Ewing M. Kauffman on July 2, 1993. Kauffman, who had refused to accept numerous offers to have his name affixed to bricks and mortar, resisted a long-running campaign by local baseball fans to change the name of the ballpark from Royals Stadium. Soon after Kauffman is inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame and announces his innovative plan to keep the team in Kansas City, the Jackson County Sports Authority approve a resolution and gain support for the name change. County Executive Marsha Murphy sends word to Kauffman and asks for his approval to proceed. Family and friends, led by his wife Muriel, persuade Ewing to accept the honor, and he acquiesces. Now the sixth-oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, Kauffman Stadium is the only stadium in the American League named in honor of a person.

Just through the strength of his personality he was able to help you be a better you. I think that’s what he’s done for Kansas City.

— Jan Kraybill
Pipe Organ Conservator, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Ewing Kauffman dies in his sleep on August 1, 1993, at the age of 76. After a moment of silence, with the stadium flags lowered to half-mast, the Royals take the field for their Sunday afternoon game at Kauffman Stadium. A memorial service is held on August 4, 1993. Kansas City mourns.

WATCH: “A lasting legacy | Ewing Marion Kauffman” | 4:28