Until very recently, the idea of the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series seemed about as realistic as Syracuse winning the College Football Playoff. The club won the World Series in 1985, and then went an entire generation without returning to the playoffs. From 1986-2013, there were more seasons that ended with the Royals 20 or more games out of first place (14) than with a winning record (eight).
Now let’s fast forward to Tuesday, when an estimated 800,000 people put on their best blue and headed downtown to celebrate the latest crowning of the Royals as World Series champions.
What changed? Well, everything. The club cleaned house a number of times over the years, but the turnaround started with the hiring of general manager Dayton Moore during the 2006 season. A lifelong Royals fan, Moore left the Atlanta Braves organization to overhaul Kansas City’s roster.
More important than that, though, Moore had to first overhaul the Royals’ losing culture.
“We had an undying faith that we could win here,” Moore said in an interview with the Church of the Resurrection, located in the Kansas City area. “I had to convince myself that we could win here, truthfully. I really believe that if I had done all my homework, analyzed all aspects of the Kansas City Royals, there’s no way that I would have probably come here.”
After convincing himself that baseball could succeed in Kansas City, Moore set out to build a staff with the same blind faith he had.
“The leaders shape your culture, so we brought in some people that really believed in what we were doing, believed in one another,” Moore said. “We were very transparent. I made it very clear to all of our leaders and directors, ‘If you don’t think we can win here in Kansas City, do me a favor, please don’t come.’ This is perhaps the most difficult challenge in all of sports, certainly in all of baseball, at that particular time. We really have to have an undying belief in what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
In one final chunk of wisdom, Moore talked about building an organization people want to work for, and the value of transparency in leadership.
“We’re going to create an organization that we would want our own sons and family to be a part of. As the general manger of this team, I want this to be the greatest place to work in the history of baseball. I want you to love to come to work here,” he said. “I want you to love to represent the Kansas City Royals and our community. We’re going to be very transparent with our fans and with the media, because we want them to know exactly what we’re doing, what our thought process is, because I believe the best leaders are the ones that are the most transparent. We’re all going to get exposed in life anyway, so you might as well be transparent, be who you are, be who God made you to be, and realize that, fortunately, we serve a God that gives us multiple chances and allows us to renew ourselves every day.”