The Royals officially welcomed John Sherman as their new owner on Tuesday, following approval by MLB owners last week. The Kansas City entrepreneur made several references to his local roots, reminiscing about the time he sat in a Westport bar to watch George Brett homer against the Yankees in the 1980 American League Championship Series. He also talked about returning from a European vacation to get back to Kansas City to watch the 2014 World Series.
“It is a proud and storied franchise,” Sherman told reporters.
Sherman agreed to purchase the Royals from David Glass for $1 billion in August, but says he got a call from Glass about potentially buying the team back in January, taking him by surprise. Sherman owned a minority stake in the Cleveland Indians, with plans to eventually become controlling owner. But those plans were shelved once he heard from Glass.
John Sherman: "The opportunity to do this in your hometown is very, very special."— Lynn Worthy (@LWorthySports) November 26, 2019
Sherman told reporters his role as owner was to get the right people in place and find out how he can help, but he would defer to General Manager Dayton Moore for baseball decisions. “I’m an investor, these guys are the baseball professionals.”
During the 2014 World Series, Sherman had planned a trip to Europe and was overseas. Watching a game on his phone, his wife said, "Why don't you just go back?" So he did then caught back up with his family in Europe.— 41 Action News (@41actionnews) November 26, 2019
He praised General Manager Dayton Moore for what he has accomplished in Kansas City and said the club was transforming, bringing up analytics, and behavioral science. Sherman mentioned he had learned from the psychology department with the Indians about the resiliency of professional baseball players. “You got to have the data,” said Sherman, who has been said to have read baseball analytics books like “Big Data Baseball.”
Sherman cited the Indians as a model for the organization for sustainable success as a team that signed pre-arbitration players to long-term deals and was unafraid to trade assets to make the team competitive long-term. “It seems like small market teams need to be smarter. You need to evaluate and draft well, you have to develop well.”
Dayton Moore says that he will communicate daily with Sherman and work with him on when to execute long-term deals with players. Sherman praised the core group of players on the team, but admitted “we have some holes to fill.” He mentioned the club had promising players coming up but said he would defer to Dayton Moore on timelines for those players.
The new ownership group includes about 20 individuals and entities, most of them with local ties. Sherman said the group is passionate about the team and expects to have a very active owner’s suite. He also praised their experience in professional sports, mentioning that Paul Edgerley is involved in ownership with the NBA’s Boston Celtics and Italian soccer club AS Roma, and Kent McCarthy is involved with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. “But,” he added, “at the end of the day you can hold me accountable for those decisions.”
Sherman has been reported to be open to moving the team downtown, but at the press conference he would not commit to a long-term solution for the Royals, saying there was a lot of time left on the current lease. He praised the beauty of Kauffman Stadium, but said there is a thought in baseball that economic development makes more sense in denser areas. JE Dunn and the Dunn family are part of the new ownership group, and their headquarters is in the East Village, a site mentioned as a potential downtown basebaall location.
John Sherman showed the next era of Royals baseball is steeped in local flavor. The ownership group has different generations of Royals fans on board, and Sherman himself admitted he jumped on the Royals bandwagon when he came to Kansas City in the 1970s. He revealed himself as a civic-minded, curious person, who will defer to his baseball professionals. With his background with the Indians, he doesn’t seem likely to splurge on big free agents, or even keep Royals players in Kansas City their entire career. But if he can indeed build a sustainable winner, he’ll be a hometown hero.