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A percentage player makes his pitch for K. C.
Ted O'Leary
January 08, 1968
That is how Ewing Kauffman, who succeeds with everything he touches, describes himself. If baseball does award him the new franchise, the days of travail for put-upon Kansas Citians may have ended at long last
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January 08, 1968

A Percentage Player Makes His Pitch For K. C.

That is how Ewing Kauffman, who succeeds with everything he touches, describes himself. If baseball does award him the new franchise, the days of travail for put-upon Kansas Citians may have ended at long last

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Kauffman is sure he will be able to resist the temptation to try to run the affairs of the ball club. "When I replaced myself as sales manager of Marion Laboratories," Kauffman says, "I saw a lot of things that the man I had put in was doing wrong, but I didn't interfere. I let him learn by his own mistakes. I know sales management. So if I could resist the temptation to tell my sales manager what to do I'm sure I'll be able to resist interfering in baseball, about which I know nothing."

Kauffman is conscious that the occupational life of a baseball player is much shorter than that of a drug firm employee and that it becomes less rather than more valuable with age. He does not envision stock benefits and retirement funds for his players, but he does for his management and front-office personnel. He believes that the benefits he will offer his people should enable him to build a first-class organization quickly.

Already Kauffman has received permission to negotiate with a man currently employed by an American League team whom he'd like to hire as his executive vice-president. Says Kauffman: "Probably our organization would be patterned after the Yankees', with the key men the executive vice-president and the director of player personnel. As I've said, I go by the law of averages. I also believe strongly in quality. I'd rather have 10 $50,000 ballplayers than 50 $10,000 ones."

Because his tax situation makes it impractical, Kauffman will take nothing financially from the team. Any profits will go to improving it. "If money will build a ball team," he says, "I'm willing to spend it. I would say a first-division team in five to seven years would be a reasonable goal. I suppose I'll suffer awhile, but I'm hoping for a pennant inside of 10 years."

As the first local owner of Kansas City's major league team, Kauffman would be refreshingly different from his predecessors, Arnold Johnson of Chicago, who moved the A's from Philadelphia in 1955 and operated the club as though it were a farm team for the Yankees, and the stormy insurance executive, Charles O. Finley, also from Chicago. The two got the franchise largely because Kansas City's rich men, influenced by conservative local banking interests, stood around and did nothing. The result was years of turmoil and finally desertion by Finley.

Unless baseball, a game controlled by men who are easily frightened by signs of generosity, suddenly turns down Kauffman, he promises to be a bright addition to the scene. He is candid, accessible and makes no attempt to conceal either his wealth or the fact that he finds its possession vastly enjoyable. If this be heresy, Kansas City and baseball can use a lot more of it.

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