David Glass, former Royals owner, passes away

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Photo by John Sleezer/Kansas City Star

The Kansas City Royals announced today that the team’s former chairman and CEO David Glass passed away last week due to complications from pneumonia. Glass was 84 years old and was only the second owner in team history. He passed away in Bentonville, Arkansas, which is where his career as a chief officer began nearly 45 years ago.

Glass agreed to sell the team to local business John Sherman after 20 years of ownership in August 2019. Reports surfaced almost immediately that Glass’ primary motivation to sell the team as expediently as he did was because his health was failing and he didn’t want to leave the team in as dire state as it was when former owner and team founder Ewing Kauffman died.

“Like so many Kansas Citians, I am deeply saddened by the news of David’s passing,” Sherman said. “His passion for baseball and love for Kansas City was the driving force in bringing success on the field for this franchise.” Sherman also added that he “pledge[s] to carry [the franchise] forward with his passionate commitment and selfless spirit.”

Glass took control of the team on an interim basis in 1993, when Kauffman passed away and became the team’s sole owner in the beginning of the 2000 season. A large component in him being sold the team was that he was from the Midwest, as Kauffman stated in his will that the team was to be sold only to an owner that would not move the team out of Kansas City. This stipulation came in response to the relocation of the Kansas City Athletics franchise to Oakland, which is what prompted Kauffman to get a team to Kansas City in the first place.

“Mr. Glass loved this game, this team, and our city with all his heart,” general manager Dayton Moore said in a press release. “We are forever grateful for his humble and supportive leadership, and we are beyond blessed that we were a part of his incredible life.” Glass hired Moore as the team’s new general manager in 2006 after he had fired Allard Baird.

Highlights of Glass’ tenure as the Royals’ owner was a remarkable, unexpected run at the division title in 2003, the drafting of franchise cornerstones Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Danny Duffy, and three straight winning seasons from 2013-15. The 2014 season culminated in the team’s first postseason appearance and pennant since 1985, while the 2015 season brought the team’s first division title and World Series championship since the same 1985 season.

Long criticized as a cheap owner, Glass spent a record $145 million on payroll in 2017, thanks to large contracts such as Alex Gordon’s and Ian Kennedy’s $70+ million deals. This shut down that narrative, as while the Royals prepared to make one final pennant run, they found themselves sitting at 14th in MLB in payroll ranking, despite being the smallest market in the American League and second smallest in MLB.

Current and former Royals took to social media to spread their appreciation for all Glass did for the organization during his life; former first baseman Eric Hosmer tweeted, “Peace be with Mr. Glass. My thoughts and prayers are with the Glass family, the Royals organization, and all of Kansas City.” Kennedy shared on Instagram, “I loved his competitive nature and drive to be the best. He’ll be missed,” while shortstop Adalberto Mondesi shared, “[I am] saddened by his departure but I know he will continue to look over us.”

Glass was born in Missouri, graduated with a business degree from Missouri State University, and began his chief officer career as the chief financial officer for Walmart, which is headquartered in Bentonville. He became the CEO in 1988 and was later inducted into the Retail Hall of Fame and Arkansas Hall of Fame. “More than anyone beyond Sam Walton [founder], David Glass is responsible for making Walmart the company it is today,” said Rob Walton, former chairman. “On behalf of the entire Walton family, I want to express our appreciation for David as a leader and as a friend. He will be deeply missed.”

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Author: Alex Burbidge

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