The lifetime contracts lavished upon Kansas City’s Dan Quisenberry (above), George Brett, Willie WIlson in 1985 by Royals co-owners Avon Fogelmen and Ewing Kauffman are today considered amongst the most ill-advised the other side of Steve Phillips’ tenure. Fogelman, a Memphis based real estate magnate, used some of his properties to satisfy the value of the disastrous pacts, and as such, Nashville’s Stewart’s Ferry Apartments, “one of a number of sprawling, anonymous multi-building a projects that sprang up around the same time in the 1980s, when Nashville and other Southern cities were on the up,” writes City Paper’s J.R. Lind, holds a special, if somewhat bizarre place in Royals lore.
Fogelman hedged the trio’s talents against some of his real estate developments. Brett was guaranteed at least $1 million from Country Squire, an 1,100-unit Memphis complex, until December 1991, at which point the Royals would buy his 10 percent interest for $2 million.
Through salary deductions, Quisenberry would gradually become owner of 24.7 percent of Stewart’s Ferry Apartments. He was guaranteed cash for 20 years with the chance of receiving a lump sum of at least $23 million in 2006 or to get annual payments of $1.875 million until 2025.
Wilson was given a 9.5 percent piece of Stewart’s Ferry Apartments with guaranteed payments until 2005, at which time he would be promised at least $16.8 million or continued yearly payments, similar to Quisenberry’s deal.
Go into the Davidson County Register of Deeds and pull the dozens of filings for Stewart’s Ferry Limited Partnership and its successors. There are some of the most famous names in baseball: Quisenberry. Wilson. And because the Royals had to have a stake in order to execute the contracts and salary deductions, they’re there too, represented by a young general manager named John Schuerholz who’d later gain fame as the man behind the Atlanta Braves’ dominance in the 1990s.
The deals worked out for the players at first, as they did for the Royals. The contracts now bear a reputation as not only some of the most bizarre, but in fact some of the worst in baseball history. And they were a symptom of the coming decline of the once-proud Royals.