KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Royals honored Ewing Marion Kauffman Tuesday night, just a few days after what would have been his 100th birthday. The Royals recent success introduced a new generation of fans to the Kauffman name. The Royals wanted to make sure people knew more about the man behind Kauffman Stadium and what he meant not only to the Royals, but to Kansas City.
“You know the Stadium you know the statues maybe the name, but you forget this is a 33-year-old guy who started a business in his basement,” Kauffman Foundation V.P. of Public Affairs Larry Jacob said.
Royals fans received T-shirts with Kauffman's image and a history lesson on his impact and his family’s continued legacy in the form of a four-minute video before the game.
Kauffman earned enough at the pharmaceutical business he founded, Marion Laboratories, to purchase the expansion Royals in 1968 and break ground on the stadium that now bears his name.
“He was phenomenal, just absolutely a great owner," former Royals catcher Jamie Quirk said. "Everybody knows he would always wave down to the crowd from the press box.”
The team would go on to win the 1985 World Series. Kauffman would live just 8 more years, but left behind a plan for the sale of the team. The proceeds went to charity, and there was a stipulation the Royals stayed in Kansas City.
“You have an obligation when you have this kind of money to do something with it,” Kauffman told WDAF before his death.
“We have baseball here in Kansas City because of Mr. K and we all know and appreciate what the Kauffman's have done for our great city,” Royals General Manager Dayton Moore said.
“It’s not just the Royals but everything he’s done for the city,” Royals fan Carl Hamilton said.
His legacy also includes the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Kauffman Foundation, inspiring others to dream the same dreams he did in his basement.
“The reality is Mr. Kauffman continues to live on in the education of the students in our city, and really promoting entrepreneurship, what we see in KC is an excitement around this town and that’s something Mr. Kauffman would be really proud of today,” Jacob said.
Kauffman Stadium is the only stadium in the American League, named for a person.