The heart and soul of Kansas City’s major league baseball franchise is a 5-foot-6 and impeccably dressed man you probably haven’t heard of. You don’t know the Royals history and successes until you know him.
His name is Art Stewart and he helped bring Bo Jackson to the Royals on a hunch. He once signed a player after sneaking into the home and listening in on a rival’s offer.
He has the kind of charm that’s overmatched highway patrolmen — Art has paid two speeding tickets in his life, and guesses that baseball stories have gotten him out of a dozen more.
Once, his rental car running on fumes in Florida’s Alligator Alley, Art told a few baseball stories and a man siphoned gas for him.
He fell in love with baseball when he snuck into his attic and found his late father’s baseball gloves, and his seven decades on the wild ride of major league baseball make him a living, breathing, storytelling personification of America’s pastime.
Art was born on Babe Ruth’s 32nd birthday, and has been inside baseball through Ted Williams’ triple crown, Willie Mays’ catch, Hank Aaron’s home runs, George Brett’s chase of .400, all the way through the high-definition, instant-replay times of today.
Art helped build the Yankees’ dynasty of the 1950s and 1960s, before becoming an integral part of making the Royals the most successful expansion franchise in baseball history.
His aggressive ways are part of why baseball’s owners voted overwhelmingly to institute a draft in 1963. Art signed one 20-game winner who shook the sport with an explosive book, and another 20-game winner who shook the sport by swapping wives with a teammate.
From George Brett to Frank White, Bret Saberhagen to Bo Jackson, Carlos Beltran to Eric Hosmer, the Royals’ history is Art’s history. Art just tells it better than anyone else.