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April 19, 2016
An excerpt of this story appears in the spring 2016 edition of the Northwest Alumni Magazine. To view more content from the magazine and an e-edition, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/alumni/magazine/.
Looking back on a remarkable baseball season loaded with memories for the Kansas City Royals and their fans, Mike Arbuckle cherishes most the sunny November day when an estimated 800,000 people crowded downtown Kansas City to celebrate the team’s first championship in 30 years.
Arbuckle had the unique perspective of traveling the parade route as the senior advisor to the general manager/scouting and player development for the Royals, a role he’s had since 2008. Arbuckle previously held scouting and player development roles with the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies in a professional baseball career spanning 36 years.
“You realize that the team and the sport impacts people, but you don’t realize how many it impacts,” Arbuckle said. “When we were walking down the street in that parade and you look, and as far as you can see were people in royal blue, stacked row-after-row deep. Then, at Union Station, when you turn from the stage area and looked up the hill, it was mind-boggling the number of people that came out and were a part of what the team was able to accomplish.
“For a long time, you would hear adults talk about how they remembered ’85 when they were kids. Well, now there’s a new generation who are going to be able to talk about ’15 when they were kids and tell their kids and grandkids, so it was a very special experience.”
A few days later, Arbuckle was walking among another championship team when he addressed the Northwest football team in its locker room prior to the Bearcats’ 44-10 MIAA-clinching win against Emporia State.
“It was a really fun experience and it was great to see the kids,” Arbuckle said. “You could tell they had their game faces on. They were game ready, and they obviously continued that all the way until the national championship.”
|Wearing his World Series ring during a visit to Northwest in February, Mike Arbuckle said lessons he learned at the University – such as work ethic, accountability and how to be a good teammate – set the foundation for his success in Major League Baseball. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)|
Arbuckle has embraced opportunities to stay connected with Northwest and share his leadership ideas with students since joining the Royals’ front office staff. In February, on the day before leaving for the Royals’ spring training camp in Arizona, he addressed hundreds of high school students and their advisors as the keynote speaker for a Future Business Leaders of America district conference at Northwest. He also has hosted Northwest sport management students at Kauffman Stadium, providing them an opportunity to tour the ballpark and ask questions of other staff members.
“I see the benefits that students get from attending this University, the number of students who go out into many different disciplines and become very successful people,” Arbuckle said. “I think there are leadership elements here that are really positive, and it really helps students leave here in a way that they’re prepared to go out into the world.”
Arbuckle received his bachelor’s degree in education from Northwest in 1972. He also has a master’s in secondary education from the University of South Alabama and is a graduate of Trenton High School and North Central Missouri College.
He was a 1969 draft selection of the St. Louis Cardinals, but a rotator cuff injury stalled his big league aspirations. Through a personal connection, he began scouting for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1977 and joined the Atlanta Braves in 1980 for a 12-year stint that had him scouting at all levels. In 1992, he returned to the Phillies as director of scouting and contributed to the team’s World Series championship in 2008.
Arbuckle’s scouting efforts have produced 75 signed and developed major league players, who include 11 All-Stars, two National League MVPs, two National League playoff MVPs, two Rookies of the Year, three Gold Glove winners, and one World Series MVP.
Arbuckle says lessons he learned at Northwest – such as work ethic, accountability and how to be a good teammate – set the foundation on which he’s built his career.
“It’s no one else’s fault but mine if I don’t do well,” he said. “Northwest was a strong contributor to just the growing up and maturing process that we as individuals have to go through, and it really helped prepare me to go out into the world and understand some of the traits that I needed to exhibit if I wanted to succeed in whatever path that I chose to follow.”
As he begins a new season with the Royals, Arbuckle says the defending world champions are primed to show the baseball world the team will be competitive again.
“Obviously a lot of things have to fall right from an injury standpoint, production and all those things to say, ‘Yeah, we’re going to win it,’ but I think we’re going to be right in the thick of it,” Arbuckle said. “We’ve been able to reload and replace some people and bring Alex Gordon back as a part of our team. So I think we’re ready to go, and there’s a good mindset. I think the players are ready to get back on the field and start defending that title.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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