Royals mourn passing of scout Art Stewart

Legendary and longtime Royals scout Art Stewart — the longest-tenured associate in the organization and the only scout inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame — died peacefully on Thursday morning. He was 94 years old.

Stewart was an original Royal, having joined the organization in 1969 as a scout covering the Midwest. In 1984 he became the Royals’ scouting director, and he held the position until 1997, when he became a senior advisor to the general manager — a role he had since.

Stewart’s professional baseball career is older than the Royals; in 1953 he became a territorial scout for the New York Yankees, and he was their Midwest scouting supervisor from 1958-69.

“Art was truly an extraordinary human being, whom we all loved and admired for many reasons,” Royals president of baseball operations Dayton Moore said in a statement. “His unmatched love and appreciation for the game of baseball, recollection of players and events, combined with his special ability to tell stories will be forever cherished by all.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Rosemary, daughter Dawn Mansfield along with her husband, Brian, and children David and Mark as they mourn the passing of this very special man who meant so much to them and to our Royals family. “

Stewart has had a hand in just about every Royals Draft pick since the beginnings of the organization. He selected Bo Jackson in the fourth round of the 1986 Draft, and he also drafted Carlos Beltrán, as well as Royals Hall of Famers Kevin Appier and Mike Sweeney.

Stewart’s life was filled with baseball stories. As a scout, he was always looking for talent, always had notes on hand about a player the club was interested in. The job sent him all over the world — coast to coast, cities to farmland, with stories about some of the most prominent people in baseball history.

Kansas City has never conducted an MLB Draft without some input from Stewart, whether he was making the final selection — as had become tradition — or running the whole thing.

In 2006, Stewart’s final pick was an outfielder named Jarrod Dyson, who turned out to be the best 50th-round pick in baseball history. Stewart watched nearby as Dyson’s speed helped deliver the Royals two American League pennants and the 2015 World Series title.

Stewart played a major role in the origination of the Royals’ Dominican program, helping the club start the Salcedo Academy in the Dominican Republic. He was recognized in 1998 when the former Royals Academy building was named in his honor.

Throughout 68 years in baseball, Stewart has received numerous awards. In 1970 and 1983, he received the Ewing M. Kauffman Scouting Award, as well as the Long Meritorious Service to Baseball Award from colleagues and the Topps Company in 1998. He received the Bing Devine Executive of the Year Award at the second St. Louis Major League Scouts Hall of Fame Banquet in 1998, and he was named “Mister Baseball” at the 29th Kansas City Royals Awards Banquet in January 1999.

In 2008, Stewart received the Midwest Scout of the Year Award from the Scout of the Year Foundation. Also in 2008, the Royals honored him by renaming the observation tower overlooking four fields in Surprise, Ariz., as The Art Stewart Tower. He was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Springfield, Mo., and also received the Legends in Scouting Award in Los Angeles at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s annual dinner.