Wirz: Recalling the ’69 Royals, Stan Musial, and the Commissioner’s Office

From SABR member Karl Cicittio at SmokyJoeWood.com on July 18, 2016:

CT SABR member Bob Wirz is best known as the PR Director for two former Commissioners of Baseball.  His career arc is rich.  Bob has been a journalist, a BB HOF voter, a football, basketball and baseball broadcaster, a sports TV show host, a minor league and major league PR Manager, the owner of a Sports PR & Marketing firm and a family man blessed with a dear wife, four children and five grandchildren. 

Bob’s memoir, The Passion of Baseball, is scheduled to be published in October.

I had the opportunity to do a Q & A with Bob on July 1, 2016. 

You were the PR Director for the expansion KC Royals in 1969.  What was it like to help bring MLB back to that city?

Selfishly, first of all, it was wonderful being in the major leagues after coveting that for so long.  We knew there was a great opportunity in Kansas City because of the hijinks with which Finley treated the fans and his subsequent move to Oakland just as the team was becoming good.   The A’s never had a .500 season in 13 years in KC.  We knew we had an opportunity and we knew we had to build from the ground up.  Because of all the success my Cardinals had enjoyed, people drove through KC to get to St Louis to see the Cardinals.

We had to work at building a fan base.  In our preseason campaign we would always have a caravan that would for two weeks visit towns in MO, KS, NE, IA, OK to build interest.  Sometimes Ewing Kauffman’s jet was available to us to go to Tulsa or Springfield, MO, and into towns that were clearly in Cardinal territory.

By the time I left to go to the Commissioner’s office we had not achieved great success in KC.  We had achieved relative success for an expansion team, finishing 2nd in the division at least once.  That was before the Royals got good for the first time.  At that point, we kind of thought great success was coming.  George Brett came up in 1973, which was the 5th of my 6 years with the Royals.  Brett was very green and I was wondering what the scouts saw in the guy because he had a hard time.  He really struggled from both a hitting and fielding standpoint.  He was up and down in 1973 and in KC full time in 74.

1973 was when Royals Stadium opened.  It was fortunate for me to participate in the opening and marketing of a new stadium and to help win over the fans.  The very first game there was against Texas on a 39 degree night.

Read the full article here: https://smokyjoewood.com/2016/07/18/bob-wirz-recalls-the-69-royals-stan-musial-the-commissioners-office/

Originally published: July 18, 2016. Last Updated: July 18, 2016.