|02-25-2007, 04:01 PM|
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Kansas City MO
Casino cash: $5000
Oh Danny boy
Dan needs to get a new PR person, this thing has him coming off as a whinny diaper baby.
He just really needs to shut up, step aside and let the grown-ups run the club.
A regular guy? Dan Glass can’t afford the luxury
The fame that comes with being rich, powerful — and maligned — has left the Royals president ill at ease.
By BILL REITER
The Kansas City Star
The Subway restaurant where Dan Glass often goes for lunch seems uniquely designed for him. It is low-key, unpretentious and decidedly removed from the spotlight and glare of life across the way, where the baseball team he runs does business.
A mound of grass blocks the view of Kauffman Stadium. Average guys park dirty pickup trucks in the parking lot and buy lunch without strobes firing or reporters asking questions.
There certainly aren’t any critics here heaping insults on the 48-year-old Royals president — it’s just a typical place filled with typical people, the kind of folks Glass longs to be like.
“He wants to be that normal guy, to have that normalcy, and it’s really hard to do in the job that he has,” said his 22-year-old daughter, Danielle.
He uses words like “cool” and “dude.” He’s nervous on a first meeting and wickedly funny on a second. He wears nice clothes that aren’t quite fancy enough to mark him a rich man, and he eats at a Subway that shares space with a gas station even though he lives in a million-dollar mansion.
“You want people to like you for yourself, not because of what you own and what you’re a part of and all that,” he said from Kauffman Stadium last week. “I want people to think I’m a normal guy. I grew up a normal guy. I just want be a normal guy.”
There’s just one problem: He’s not normal, not as long as he’s president of the Kansas City Royals and son of the former CEO of Wal-Mart.
He’s something else entirely.
• • •
It’s not as if Dan Glass doesn’t know what people say about him.
“I’ve been called a buffoon before,” he said. “I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t even know what a buffoon was.”
He’s heard the litany of insults: That he’s not too bright. That the family’s cheap. That he interfered with baseball decisions. That he’s just a rich man’s son.
“You never want to hear that, obviously, but it sort of comes with the territory,” he said. “It’s part of the job.”
He knows there’s pressure for him to prove he’s more than just the owner’s son. Since becoming president in 2000, Glass has repeatedly faced criticism.
In 2002, he vetoed a trade that would have sent third baseman Joe Randa to the Cubs. Last summer, Glass reportedly fired general manager Allard Baird in a phone call. And after a news conference introducing Dayton Moore, Baird’s replacement, two reporters had their media credentials pulled for the season after a heated exchange with Dan and his father, David Glass.
“I think with Royals fans it’s just a frustration, and we’re the common denominator of that — the losing season and the troubles we’ve had,” he said. “I can see where the buck stops here. Some of it we deserve; some of it we don’t deserve.”
Long before all of this — before life in the spotlight — life was routine for Dan Glass, just the way he liked it.
He was born and raised in Springfield, in a middle-class neighborhood with middle-class friends. People remember him as shy, under-the-radar and fun-loving. He went to public schools, worked at jobs washing dishes and busing tables, and made frequent trips to St. Louis with his family to catch Cardinals games.
“We used to play baseball all the time,” he said. “I’d wait for my dad to come home. And then I’d drag him out in his suit and tie, and he’d pitch balls to my brother and me.”
He loved it so much, he helped invent a baseball-like game for the neighbor kids involving a sock and their arms, and during a summer in which he lived with his grandmother in Mountain View, Mo., he’d spend hours alone hitting rocks with his baseball bat.
“He’s a baseball junkie,” said David Glass. “When he was old enough to walk I started to take him to professional baseball games, and he grew up a big-time baseball fan.”
As Dan Glass got older, he and his friends started making time for other things. “I was just a normal kid,” he said. “Got into cars and girls.”
Looking back, it’s hard for friends to get their minds around that Dan Glass being the same guy running a major-league baseball team.
“Being the president of the Royals is never something I envisioned for him,” said childhood friend Darryl Campbell. “It’s something he’s absolutely capable of handling and not at all beyond his abilities. (But) I was surprised. I thought he’d have been more a guy who blended in, not be thrown in the spotlight.”
Toward the end of high school, Dan’s father left the grocery chain Consumer Markets and moved to Arkansas to take a job for a company called Wal-Mart.
Life wouldn’t be the same.
• • •
As David Glass began to move up at Wal-Mart, Dan Glass had to decide what to do with his life.
“When I got out of high school I thought, ‘Well, you know, I don’t really want to go to college right now, so I’ll just keep working,’ ” he said.
That’s when it started, that tingling feeling that followed him from place to place and hinted that his reality had shifted. People looked at him differently. Blending in was no longer automatic. He wasn’t Dan Glass anymore. He was David Glass’ son.
“Dan believed he was treated a little bit differently than others were,” David Glass said. “It was more difficult to establish himself because of me.”
That’s partly why, after five years at Wal-Mart as stockman and assistant manager, Glass left the company and went back to college. He spent two years at Southwest Missouri State University before transferring to Drury College, where he graduated in 1985 with a degree in business administration.
For the next eight years, Dan worked in the video rental business and, later, retail jewelry.
The shadow of David Glass followed him. But it also opened the door to major-league baseball.
• • •
David Glass had been a close friend of former Royals owner Ewing M. Kauffman. By 1993, David was heavily involved with the Royals, so his son decided to move to Kansas City and take a job as a baseball operations assistant.
“He had the aptitude to roll up his sleeves and get down into the daily grind to get started in baseball,” said Jay Hinrichs, a former Royals assistant general manager whom Dan worked for at the time. “He probably didn’t have to do any of that.
“He probably could have stayed back and waited, but he didn’t. People had some concern about treating him differently — that, ‘Oh, we need to take care of him because his dad’s probably going to buy the team.’ But he never took advantage of that. He rolled up his sleeves and worked hard. He really did.”
In 2000, seven years after Kauffman’s death had left the franchise without a permanent owner, David Glass purchased the team for $96 million. The family turned to Dan, the second-oldest son, to become president. By then, he’d worked his way up through the organization.
“The family felt with the investment we made somebody should be involved day to day, and I was the one elected to do it,” he said. “And I wanted to. I love baseball.”
Soon after his promotion, Glass said he wanted “to be very hands-on” as president. Now Glass says his goal is to hire good people and oversee the whole operation.
During his tenure, the team has hired and fired Baird, hired Moore, revamped its scouting and player development program, spent money on free agents and hired new people to head other departments in the organization.
“I look at some of the things we’ve done on the business side,” Glass said, “which is primarily most of my focus — my expertise comes more to that side, though I know the baseball side, too — and I try to let the baseball hands make the baseball decisions unless there’s some financial ramifications.
“What I’ve learned from Dayton and all these guys is having the right type of scouts, the right type of development philosophy and all that kind of stuff. If I’d known that then what I know now, maybe things would be different.”
• • •
Dan Glass sits at a conference table and talks about the criticisms that have been leveled at him and his family.
“I always look at it as it’s a lack of talent on their part to take a cheap shot here and there,” he said.
Then, after a pause and some thought: “Another cliche, but you’re never as good as people say you are and you’re never as bad as people say you are,” he said. “I hear about it. I used to (hear) it. I (hear) it still to some degree. It’s hard to take it serious.”
But the image that’s been painted of him has become so widespread, it makes friends and family bristle. They’ve heard it all before, though they don’t understand where it’s come from.
“He gets a bad rap sometimes for not knowing anything about baseball or just being the owner’s son — whatever people say — but it’s not true,” said his 25-year-old son, Dayne. “They don’t know him. They think he’s just hiding away. But he’s not. He’s just private; that’s his style.”
In the end, Dan says, there may be only one thing that will change the tone of his critics.
Putting a winner on the field.
• • •
Dan Glass strolls into a broadcast booth for a photo shoot, trying to smile.
“Ah, the price of fame,” he quips.
He’ll be heading to spring training soon, and, as the photographer snaps pictures, you can see in Glass’ eyes that he’d rather be anywhere else in the world than here, having his photo taken, another moment that’ll thrust him back under that spotlight.
He leans back toward the open window with the steep drop that looks out over the diamond. His lips purse together. He’s polite but impatient.
“Move your hand back,” the photographer says.
Glass smiles. “Like I’m about to jump out of here?”
When it’s finally over, he smiles, thanks everyone and retreats into a hallway. He breathes a sigh of relief and changes the subject.
“You know, Denny Matthews got into the Hall of Fame today,” he says. “It’s a very big deal.”
“I’m a lot happier talking about someone other than me.”