Stories of Kansas City Royals fans’ kindness during Major League Baseball’s 2014 playoffs cemented the faithful base as one rich in hospitality and warmth.
So what happened when the MLB banned Royals manager Ned Yost from wearing his Apple Watch in the dugout last week? Yost’s hometown fans stepped to the plate in his aid.
Kansas City-based watchmaker Niall gave Yost one of its luxury timepieces Monday ahead of the Royals’ game against the Baltimore Orioles. Niall CEO Mike Wilson hand delivered the company’s royal blue dial “Niall One.3” timepiece to Yost, who was seen sporting the watch Monday night as the Royals rallied to top the Orioles 8-3.
“Really what this was about was honoring someone that represents Kansas City,” Wilson said. “Niall is always about honoring those that represent what it means to be all in. With Yost being banned from wearing his Apple Watch — it made us realize he really needed a Niall in the first place. This was just a great opportunity for us to show our gratitude to such a great man.”
Yost was spotted last week wearing the Apple Watch, which the MLB feared might have violated its rule against smartphones in the dugout. Yost told Royals beat writer Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that “when you’re away from your phone, all it is is a watch.”
Ironically, McCullough reported that the MLB gave Yost his Apple Watch as a gift for the 2015 All-Star Game. Despite that, the MLB called Yost out for wearing the smart watch, offering Niall the opportunity to get its watch on a wrist of a man frequently shown on national broadcasts.
Calling Yost a “super nice guy,” Wilson said that it was thrilling to not only meet his team’s manager but also to see the Royals’ American League-leading success.
“It’s an exciting time to be a Royals fan,” he said. “I was a 1-year-old the last time the Royals won the World Series, so it’s encouraging to see how well they are doing. From my personal take, the chemistry of the players is something you rarely see. Kansas City has a good group of players.”
Niall, whose manufacturing takes place entirely in Kansas City, custom built the watch for Yost. Wilson said that the company plans to make only 30 of the timepieces, representing each year since the Royals’ 1985 World Series win. The timepieces, which will become available in October, cost a cool $5,250. Ten percent of the watches’ revenue will be donated to a local, yet-to-be named charity, Wilson said.
Yost is not the first celebrity or Kansas City sports icon that’s donned a Niall watch. Other Niall enthusiasts include Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and actors Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Rob Riggle and David Koechner.