MLB Team Owner Profiles: David Glass, Kansas City Royals

Joe BrownCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2010

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 30: Robinson Tejeda #51 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the New York Yankees during the game on September 30, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Owner : David Glass

Team : Kansas City Royals


Education : BA, General Business, Missouri State (Springfield, MO)

Where the Money Came From

Before buying the Kansas City Royals, David Glass was a long-time executive at Wal-Mart. His career there lasted 25 years in several different high-ranking positions. The first half of his storied career at Wal-Mart was spent in the accounting and finance departments—primarily as Vice Chairman, CFO, and Executive VP of Finance.

In 1988, David Glass was promoted to President and CEO—a position he held for 12 years until he stepped down to purchase the Royals in 2000. Glass was a key figure in Wal-Mart’s ascension to the top of the retail world. They say that the No. 1 objective for budding and established executives is to increase shareholder value.

Not only did Mr. Glass make many other investors wealthy, he also did pretty well himself—enough so that he could purchase an MLB team. I would imagine a substantial part of his fortune came via stock options and bonuses. Apparently, Glass is one of the wealthier owners in professional sports but he is reluctant to go on record stating his net worth. In 2000, he purchased the Royals for $96 million.


Like most owners, David Glass has his fair share of admirers and critics alike. Sam Walton will always be remembered as the man who started Wal-Mart, but many insiders will tell you that Glass was the visionary who made it happen. Considering that most professional sports team owners acquire ownership rights either through inheritance or incredible financial gains as a business owner—Glass is unique in that he was actually a hired-gun who worked for the owner.

His critics will tell you that he’s brash, frugal, outspoken and conniving—all traits that many successful business people possess.

Up until this point, Glass hasn’t been able to lead the Royals franchise as he did with Wal-Mart. During an eight-year run as team owner, his team has lost an average of about 96 games per year. To his credit, the demise of his team started in the mid-1990s and has lasted until just recently as the team is showing signs of a turnaround.

Perhaps his best move so far was hiring one of the up-and-coming baseball minds in the business when he convinced Atlanta Braves executive Dayton Moore, to resurrect the glory days of the mid-‘80s.

Glass is the type of person that says what’s on his mind with little regard for any backlash it may cause.

During a press conference in 2006 to introduce new GM, Dayton Moore, two reporters zeroed in on the owner instead of Moore. While the questions may have been insinuating and borderline inappropriate, many felt his actions were not warranted. Glass revoked the two journalists press credentials for the rest of the year.

This type of cantankerous behavior was nothing new.

In the early ‘90s, David sat down for an interview that was to be aired on the popular NBC show, Dateline . Thinking that the concept would be strictly about the new "Made in America" marketing campaign that Wal-Mart was rolling out, he didn’t anticipate where the conversation would head.

The host played a video of children working in a sweatshop in Bangladesh—the clothes were being made for—you guessed it—Wal-Mart.

Glass popped up and stomped out of the interview. Perhaps the most interesting maneuver he ever pulled was before he "officially" became owner.

To this day, many people both inside-and-out of baseball are still dumbfounded by the conditions surrounding the sale of the Royals.

Glass was able to buy the team for $96 million even though there was a legitimate offer in the $120 million range by New York lawyer, Miles Prentice. Maybe it helped that David Glass had served on the Royals board of directors since 1993 and could convince his "board-buddies" to do their part.

Fortunately for Mr. Glass, it seems as if the next few years may be a good time to be a Royals fan. They've got young stars and foundations for the future with Zack Greinke, Mike Aviles, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, and Alex Gordon.


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