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Joe McGuff Obituary
Former Star editor, Joe McGuff, dies at age 79

The Kansas City Star

Joe McGuff, one of Kansas City's most legendary newspaper figures, died Saturday night at his home. He was 79.

McGuff, who is survived by his wife, Kay, and six adult children, may be best remembered for his instrumental role in bringing to Kansas City the expansion Royals baseball team in 1969, two years after Charles O. Finley moved the Athletics to Oakland.

McGuff began his career at The Kansas City Star in 1948 as a sports reporter. He later ascended to sports columnist in 1966, and his columns became a fixture on the Kansas City sports scene for the next 20 years.

McGuff's writing style was best described as Midwestern straightforward - well-prepared with touches of humor and an occasional jab, though even those came with sensitivity toward the target.

"He will criticize you, but in the kindest way possible," late Royals owner Ewing Kauffman once said of McGuff.

In 1986, McGuff was named editor and vice president of The Star and The Kansas City Times, and oversaw many of the newspapers' watershed moments, including the bittersweet merger of the morning and afternoon newspapers. He retired from the newspaper in April 1992, the same month The Star won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.

"Joe always put The Star's interests above his own, and Kansas City's interests above The Star's," said current Star editor Mark Zieman, who grew up reading McGuff's sports columns.

"He wanted the paper to improve our community, not bludgeon it. But when facts supported it, he loved hard-edged, investigative reporting, especially if it involved misspent tax dollars or standing up for the little guy. And when the big guys complained, he always listened graciously to their objections, sent them happily on their way - and ran more tough stories. He was just an outstanding editor, and a good man."

McGuff was elected to the Royals board of directors in 1994 and helped steer the franchise through Kauffman's succession plan all the way to David Glass' purchase of the team in 2000.

In 1999, McGuff was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Yet he still managed to attend the occasional Royals game and visit with friends, baseball executives and journalists he had known for decades.

McGuff was enshrined in the baseball writers wing of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1985, the same year he threw out of the first pitch of game seven of the World Series. He also was a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

In all, McGuff covered six Olympics, 31 World Series and 16 Super Bowls.

Bill Hall, president of the Hall Family Foundation, worked alongside McGuff in the effort to keep the Royals in Kansas City in the 1990s.

"I think in terms of his character, I have known few men who have the degree of integrity that Joe McGuff had," Hall said. "He was so straightforward and so honest."

For more information on Joe McGuff see tomorrow's edition of The Star.
Published in Kansas City Star on Feb. 5, 2006
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