Eric Hosmer’s Impact on KC Culture
Reactions ranged from some variation of “He didn’t want to stay in KC,” to “That’s just the business of baseball.” The first statement about former Royal Eric Hosmer could not be further from the truth. The latter is nothing new in sports but still painful for so many fans. I’m wired to handle the comings and goings of athletes but selfishly, I’m bummed out because Hosmer was my go-to-guy. One of the most impactful players in Kansas City Royals franchise history will now take his many skills west to San Diego. The Padres will inherit a leader who could shine in any organization regardless of profession.
I talk regularly to businesses about building a championship culture through TEAM, an acronym standing for trust, energy, accountability and makeup. Hosmer embodies all of these traits. Trustworthy to all, I regularly watched the first baseman break down cultural barriers that can divide so many locker rooms. Credit growing up the son of a firefighter father and a Cuban immigrant mother for his work ethic and ability to connect with everyone. He brought positive energy to the clubhouse and field every day. In terms of accountability, he held his teammates responsible but not before looking at himself first and often taking the fall for others. As for makeup, that to me is the heart. Who you are as a person. Win or lose, jubilation or heartbreak, Hosmer always made himself accessible. He spoke in front of a sold out Kauffman Stadium crowd on opening day in 2017 to honor his late teammate Yordano Ventura less than three months following the fatal car crash that took Ventura’s life. How he remained composed amidst 40,019 sets of teary eyes was a question of mine he could never answer.
His final game as a Royal at the “K” ended with more emotion. Players don’t conduct on field interviews after a loss. That’s just protocol across the league, but following the defeat, Hosmer walked over so he could speak to the fans, knowing it could be the last time in a KC uniform with his contract expiring. An emotional tribute had just run on the video board, ending with a picture of Ventura. I asked “Hos” off camera if he was ok and he told me yes but that we would need to be quick because he wouldn’t last long without breaking down. I could see the tears forming in his eyes. I know I was no better. So much for handling the comings and goings of athletes. I never even asked him a question but just gave him the floor to speak. Hosmer thanked Royals management and the fans for “giving us the opportunity to unite and become this team and such a strong family that we built here.” The Royals will now rebuild with younger players, in search of the next Hosmer that can deliver results while making everyone around him better. Every type of business can win with the championship culture of an Eric Hosmer.