John Schuerholz built a World Series champion in Kansas City and a dynasty in Atlanta. On Sunday, the former general manager of the Royals and Braves will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
In a class that features three players — Jeff Bagwell, a former first baseman with the Houston Astros; Tim Raines, a leadoff man extraordinaire for the Montreal Expos; and Ivan Rodriguez, one of the game’s all-time great catchers — Schuerholz will join former commissioner Bud Selig as two executives are inducted in the same year for the first time in history.
“I know everybody in the Braves organization and the Royals organization will celebrate along with every person in the game of baseball,” said Royals general manager Dayton Moore, who will be in Cooperstown for the ceremony. “It’s not every year that an executive gets inducted into the Hall of Fame. So I think it’s something we should all celebrate and honor.”
Moore, of course, worked for Schuerholz in Atlanta before taking over as the Royals’ general manager in 2006. And the ties between Schuerholz, 76, and Kansas City run deep. His greatest accolades, of course, came in Atlanta, where he guided the franchise to 14 straight division titles and one World Series title. But his impact on the Royals organization and baseball in Kansas City remain undeniable, a career that dovetails with the glorious era of the 1970s and early 1980s.
“He was a great GM in all phases,” said Royals manager Ned Yost, who served as a coach for the Atlanta Braves during their run of success. “He could judge talent. He knew the team inside and out.”
A former school teacher, Schuerholz’s origin story offers a romantic notion of the game of baseball in the mid 1960s. His career in baseball began at the age of 26, when he wrote a letter to the nearby Baltimore Orioles, inquiring about a job. Somehow, he landed the job.
Three years later, he joined the staff of the expansion Royals. Working under executives Cedric Tallis and Joe Burke, Schuerholz helped the club become the most successful expansion team in history. By 1981, he ascended to the role of general manager at the age of 41, the youngest in all of baseball. Four years later, the Royals claimed the first World Series championship in team history. Thirty years later, Moore — one of his proteges in Atlanta — would build another championship team.
In 1990, Schuerholz took over as the general manager in Atlanta. One year later, they were in the World Series. For the next decade, he formed a formidable duo with manager Bobby Cox, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. Nearly three years later, Schuerholz was elected unanimously on the Today’s Game Era ballot, the modern-day version of the veterans committee.
“The relationship with John early was all business,” Yost recalled on Saturday afternoon. “He’d come in and maybe say hi to you. But he was always in Bobby’s office, always communicating with Bobby.
“But then after a year or two, he really got to form trust in all of us. He’d come down at 11:30 or 12 p.m. and just sit in the clubhouse with the coaches and Bobby and we’d just sit there and talk for an hour every day.”
Nearly two decades later, Yost said he still draws on a message he first heard from Schuerholz.
“You have to manage change,” Yost said. “Our job is to manage change successfully, year after year.”
Hall of Fame induction
Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., 12:30 p.m. Sunday, MLB Network