The man behind the Kansas City Royals logo

From SABR member James Forr at on December 7, 2011:

At Kauffman Stadium not long ago, someone introduced Shannon Manning to a fan and his young son.  The boy had never heard of Manning and couldn’t understand why he was supposed to be so impressed.  The father just pointed to his kid’s Royals cap and explained wryly, “Without this fellow, your hat would just be blue.”

Many of us waste years, decades, sometimes a lifetime, figuring out what we want to be when we grow up. But Shannon Manning yearned to be an artist for as long as he can remember; nothing else ever seriously crossed his mind. Even when he was a boy in rural Indiana, his parents could hand him a crayon and a stack of brown paper bags and he would be set for the evening. “It was something I could do as a kid that made me kind of special,” he recalled. “I wasn’t particularly good at sports. I wasn’t a particularly good student. But this was something I could do.”

Manning graduated from Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, spent five years as a graphic designer in Chicago, and then in 1967 trekked off to Kansas City, where he took a job creating retail packaging for Hallmark.

That winter, shortly after the Athletics relocated to Oakland, baseball awarded Kansas City an expansion franchise. Owner Ewing Kauffman had no in-house design talent in those hectic early days, so for a team logo he turned to Hallmark and the hundreds of talented artists under its roof. Hallmark opened the project to its entire staff. Any employee who wanted to devise a logo could do so, on company time, with company resources. Although Manning was only a casual baseball fan, the artistic challenge intrigued him. “It was pretty much up my alley.”

The Royals had two requirements – they wanted to use blue and they insisted the logo incorporate a crown. Otherwise, Manning and his colleagues were free to go where their imaginations led them.

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Originally published: December 7, 2011. Last Updated: December 7, 2011.