KANSAS CITY -- Kevin Uhlich isn’t likely a household name among Royals fans. But he should be.
The success the Royals enjoyed on the field in going to back-to-back World Series from 2014-15 wouldn’t have been possible without Uhlich’s business acumen off of it. Uhlich announced Wednesday that he is retiring from his position as senior vice president of business operations so he can transition into a new role as special assistant to owner John Sherman.
“As important as it was to celebrate Alex Gordon’s accomplishments to the Royals,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said by phone, “its just as important to celebrate Kevin Uhlich’s accomplishments. We simply could not have accomplished the things we did without Kevin’s contributions on the business side. Kevin needs to be celebrated for that.”
Moore and Uhlich, 63, had a close relationship over Uhlich’s 14 seasons in Kansas City.
“I can’t tell you how much I learned from Kevin,” Moore said. “Any time I needed guidance on the financial side, or how to approach ownership, Kevin was there for me.”
Uhlich’s list of accomplishments with the Royals are almost too many to mention. He will almost certainly end up in the Royals Hall of Fame.
Uhlich was instrumental in leading the charge for the $275 million Kauffman Stadium renovation that was completed in 2009, a project that turned The K into one of the most fan-friendly venues in all of sports.
“Kevin was so aware of the importance to make Kauffman Stadium a family-friendly one,” Moore said.
Uhlich is finishing his 44th season in Major League Baseball, a career that began as a bat boy for the then-California Angels in 1976. He then moved up through the ranks and ultimately landed roles that included vice president of stadium operations and vice president of sales, marketing and operations for the Angels before being named their senior vice president of business operations in 2002 -- the year the club won its only World Series title.
Uhlich also was the executive vice president for the Washington Nationals during their start-up campaign in 2005 and '06, before coming to Kansas City on Nov. 7, 2006, to be the senior vice president of business operations, a position he held for the past 14 seasons.
Uhlich was instrumental as well in the renovation of the Royals' facilities in Surprise, Ariz., that was completed just before the start of 2016 Spring Training.
But the project influenced by Uhlich that made Moore perhaps most proud was his involvement in completing the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy, which was finished in March 2018.
“Kevin came in and finished that project off,” Moore said. “Just an amazing job.”
Uhlich’s talents have not gone unrecognized by Sherman in his first year as Royals owner.
“I can’t thank Kevin enough for his support and hard work during our ownership transition over this past year,” Sherman said. “His knowledge of the business side of baseball has been a huge asset to me. While he’s stepping away from the day-to-day operations, we’re grateful that he will continue his valued relationship and institutional knowledge with our organization as an advisor. Our internal team will continue in their various roles with the same passion they bring every day. I look forward to working with them as our transition goes forward.”
Uhlich always will have a special place in his heart for Kansas City.
“It’s difficult to articulate how much the last 14 years have meant to me and my family,” Uhlich said. “We were native Californians, and while we made the move east for two seasons in D.C., we had never experienced the Midwest, but the greater Kansas City area is one of the best kept secrets in our country, and I’ve loved every day here.
"I want to thank the [David] Glass family for the opportunity to move my family here and be a part of the stadium renovation and the championship years. It has also been a great experience to work alongside Dayton Moore, as together we were able to cohesively build a strong foundation on both the business and baseball side, while becoming great friends. Lastly, I’d like to thank Mr. Sherman for his support during the transition and the opportunity to still have an involvement with this great organization as his advisor.”