Last season, the Kansas City Royals won the American League pennant, galvanizing the community and forging a generation of Royals fans. I talked to multiple members of the community about the exciting season, and asked them what it meant to them.
This season, the Royals won the World Series, completing a journey through the desert that lasted 30 years. Again, I will talk with important members of the community about this achievement, their place in it, and the joy of the World Champions Royals.
The subject of today's interview is none other than Mayor Sly James. Mr. James began serving as mayor in 2011, and was re-elected in 2015. Mr. James is a local, graduating from Bishop Hogan High School and acquiring a degree from Rockhurst College before working as a lawyer in Kansas City before his election as mayor.
As Mayor, you have a unique perspective on the emotions and happenings of the community. How has the attitude and perception of the Royals changed since you were first elected?
When I took office in 2011, Dayton Moore’s approach to building this team was in full process, and talent was starting to arrive at the Major League level. Dayton’s steady hand and consistent vision for the Royals have been met with widespread acceptance among Kansas City baseball fans and the community at large.
Breaking a 30-year playoff drought in 2014, going to the World Series in 2014 and again in 2015 validates the vision and the faith in that vision.
The team’s approach reflects how we do things in Kansas City and the personality of the city. Kansas City is a self-effacing and entrepreneurial city. We rely on data as well as instinct. We don’t get too full of ourselves. We aren’t afraid to try new ideas. The Royals are like Kansas City, and that makes it easy for Kansas Citians to have a positive attitude and perception about the city.
The championship parade was such an exciting event for the city. What was the city's role in the event. How would your experience change a possible future parade should the Royals win another World Series in the next few years?
City Manager Troy Schulte, Police Chief Darryl Forte’, the city’s Public Works and other departments supported the planning undertaken by the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission and others. The fact that we only had three arrests on a day when an estimated 800,000 people came to celebrate means there’s not much we would change. I would hope we can make easier for people to get to and from the parade and to have the best possible time they can when they are in Kansas City.
As a Kansas City native, what has the Royals' resurgence meant for you personally?
It brings me great personal pride and joy. When I travel to speak, almost everybody I meet mentions the Royals, and that is a great starter for conversations about Kansas City generally.
Which Royals (current or former) have you particularly enjoyed watching, and why?
George Brett, a great, great hitter; and Frank White, the best fielding second baseman in Royals history. Both are personal friends.
I love all the young talent on the team today, including Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas and Yordano Ventura.