KANSAS CITY — Former Kansas City Royals owner David Glass, who sold the franchise just last November, died last week, the team announced on Friday. He was 84.
A release from Walmart, where Glass served as president and CEO from 1988-2000, indicated he died on Jan. 9 from complications associated with pneumonia, according to his family.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore, whom Glass hired in 2006, said he was deeply saddened by the news.
“He owned a baseball team for all the right reasons,” Moore said in a conference call. “He ran this organization with class and dignity. And he always emphasized family first.”
Moore said he last spoke to Glass on Christmas Day.
“His voice sounded strong and he was planning a trip to Florida, which was a family tradition,” Moore said. “And I know he was planning to go to Spring Training as usual with his friends. … This was not the news we wanted to start 2020 with.”
Moore said he cherished the opportunity to bring a World Series championship to Glass, who purchased the team in April 2000, and his family.
“It was so joyful to see him hoist the American League championship trophy back in 2014, and then to hoist the World Series trophy at Citi Field in 2015,” Moore said. “We all want to honor our bosses, and it was a thrill to be able watch him with those trophies, and then watch him be a part of the parade. It was a special feeling.”
“David Glass was one of our game’s most active and respected owners for more than a quarter of a century,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “He provided outstanding service to the industry in many ways, including as a member of numerous ownership committees, such as the Executive Council, and as Chairman of the Board of MLB Advanced Media. While providing great leadership for our industry, he also was a tremendous fan of the game. The Royals’ 2015 World Championship was a tribute to his stewardship of the franchise and his passion for baseball in Kansas City.
“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to his wife Ruth and their three children, including former Royals President Dan Glass.”
Glass sold the Royals to Kansas City businessman John Sherman just months ago.
“Like so many Kansas Citians, I am deeply saddened by the news of David’s passing,” said Sherman, the new owner of the Royals, in a release. “His voice among other owners was so respected; he served on and led several Major League Baseball committees to better our game. His passion for baseball and love for Kansas City was the driving force in bringing success on the field for this franchise.
“Personally, I will be forever indebted to David for reaching out to offer the generational opportunity to be part of this proud and storied franchise. On behalf of the entire ownership group, I want to express deepest gratitude to the heart of a man who carefully placed a treasure in the hands of Kansas Citians. We pledge to carry it forward with his passionate commitment and selfless spirit.”
Players, too, greeted the news of Glass’ passing with sadness.
“My prayers go out to the Glass family during this difficult time,” Royals super utility man Whit Merrifield said by phone. “I feel fortunate to have gotten to know Mr. Glass over the years and will always remember all that he did for Kansas City.”
Added Alex Gordon, “Mr. Glass was not only a great man but a special person for Kansas City and the Royals. He created many great memories here in Kansas City for a lot of people. He will be greatly missed, and we send or prayers to his family.”
Glass had a special relationship with Moore and former Royals manager Ned Yost, who retired at the end of the season.
“My heart is broken right now,” Yost said by phone. “When Dayton called me to tell me the news, I was just shocked. Mr. Glass was just a special person to me.
“He stuck with us through the tough times because he believed in us. When we won the championship, I felt like we did it for Dayton, but even more so for Mr. Glass because of how he treated us.
“I’ll always remember Mr. Glass as a person who really knew what he wanted. He would come into my office and be upset about the way we were playing. But always, by the end of the conversation, he left the room smiling and in a good mood. That’s how he was.”
Glass’ influence throughout baseball was well-documented. He served Major League Baseball in a variety of areas including the Executive Council; the Media Oversight Committee; Diversity Oversight Committee; MLB Enterprises/MLB Properties Boards; MLB Advanced Media/MLB Network Boards; Business and Media Board; the BAM Tech Board; Ownership Committee; Audit Committee; the Constitution Committee; and he was a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame board of directors in Cooperstown.
“The Chairman, as he was known to all of us, was so easy to communicate with and to work for,” said Kevin Uhlich, Royals senior vice president of business operations. “We never had a meeting that didn’t start with him asking about your family and didn’t end with Mr. Glass asking, ‘What can I do to help?’ He was a successful businessman outside of baseball, yet he knew the sport inside and out and implemented his business ideals into the operation of the ball club and at the league level with tremendous success. His genuine love for the game of baseball and for the Royals and our fans, was second only to his love for family. We were all fortunate to have worked for him and his passing leaves a hole in each of us.”
Glass, who grew up in Mountain View, Mo., served in the U.S. Army from 1954-56 after graduating high school. After leaving the Army, he earned a business degree from Southwest Missouri State University, now named Missouri State University, in Springfield.
Many years later, Glass was recruited by Walmart founder Sam Walton, and eventually became the company’s chief financial officer. Glass was CEO of Walmart from 1988-2000.
Glass was handpicked by original Royals owner Ewing Kauffman to oversee the sale of the team upon Kauffman’s death in 1993. Unable to find a suitable owner, Glass and his family stepped in to purchase the team, assuring it would stay in Kansas City.
“Mr. Glass loved this game, this team and our city with all his heart,” Moore said. “He cared deeply for our fans and for the future of baseball. But above all, Mr. Glass placed an emphasis on putting family first, which is what he stressed to our entire organization. We are forever grateful for his humble and supportive leadership, and we are beyond blessed that we were a part of his incredible life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his very special family.”
Glass is survived by his wife, Ruth, and three children — Dan, Don and Dayna Martz. Dan Glass served as the Royals’ team president.
The Glass family will hold a public celebration of life at 1 p.m. Jan. 27 in Rogers, Ark., at the Northwest Arkansas Fellowship Bible Church, 1051 W. Pleasant Grove Road.