Results tagged ‘ Tom Ricketts ’

9/1 Ricketts leaves search to GM

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is leaving the managerial search to GM Jim Hendry, and will go over the list once it’s whittled down. So far, Hendry has talked to former Cleveland manager Eric Wedge and was in Albuquerque with the Triple-A Iowa team to talk to its manager, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

“It’s Jim’s responsibility to go out and find a new manager,” Ricketts told beat writers on Wednesday. “What he’ll do is he’ll create a short list and I’ll meet with everyone on the short list.”

Ricketts said the emphasis is on winning, not finding the best big name manager to help market the team.

“I don’t think we need a marquee name to sell tickets,” Ricketts said. “What we need is a team that produces on the field. And that’s really what’s most important to us.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/1 A toast to Harry

Dutchie Caray, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks raised a bottle of beer in a toast to legendary broadcaster Harry Caray, whose statue was moved near the Wrigley Field bleachers and rededicated on Wednesday.

The bronze was relocated to the corner of Sheffield and Waveland streets near the entrance to the bleachers, where he used to do broadcasts during the summer. A statue of Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams will be installed at Addison and Sheffield streets, where Caray’s statue was.

“I was a little sad at first,” Dutchie Caray said of the move, “but I’m happy with the outcome.”

She said Harry, who passed away in February 1998, was never content to stay in one place anyways.

“He had to be where the action is,” Dutchie Caray said.

“It’s fitting that as a Cubs fan, a Bud man and a bleacher fan that Harry will be here for years to come to welcome fans to the bleachers,” Ricketts said.

Oversized black glasses — one of Caray’s trademarks — were distributed to Cubs officials and fans. Bleacher fans attending Wednesday’s Cubs game against the Pirates received a Harry Caray mask. Caray joined the Cubs broadcast team following the 1981 season and continued his White Sox practice of leading the home crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch. Caray was presented the Ford C. Frick award and enshrined into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1989.

“As fans, we know he’s one of us,” Ricketts said.

After a toast with one of Caray’s favorite beverages, Dutchie led the fans gathered on the corner at Sheffield and Waveland in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/10 Mr. Ricketts goes to Iowa

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts watched the Triple-A Iowa team on Friday in Des Moines and was asked about the first half of the season for the big league team.

“The first half of the year has been disappointing for every fan, the Ricketts family included,” Ricketts told the Des Moines Register. “The offseason moves were very strong — Marlon Byrd is our All-Star. Getting him was a good decision but I don’t think anyone could really have predicted the difficulty we’ve had this year.

“I’ve talked to thousands of fans, many right here in Des Moines. There’s nothing I can tell them that they don’t know. We’re watching closely how things are going on the field.”

Ricketts shook hands with fans, posed for photos and signed autographs. He dodged a question about whether the Cubs are buyers or sellers at the trading deadline.

“That’s in [general manager] Jim [Hendry's] court,” Ricketts said.

What about Iowa manager Ryne Sandberg’s chances of moving up to handle the big league team?

“He’s wonderful for the organization,” Ricketts said. “A Hall of Famer helping our kids develop for the future — that’s terrific.”

This is the last year of Lou Piniella’s contract. Sandberg has made it clear he wants to manage the big league team.

“I understand that,” Ricketts said. “He’s always been a crowd favorite.”

Could Sandberg take over for Piniella?

“I’m staying away from that one,” Ricketts said.

– Carrie Muskat

4/26 More at stake in Cubs vs. White Sox

The Cubs and White Sox will be battling for more than just bragging rights. The two teams Monday announced an official structure to the Interleague rivalry known as the Crosstown Classic. Starting this year, the series will be called the BP Crosstown Cup. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and manager Lou Piniella joined White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham and catcher A.J. Pierzynski in announcing the details.

“Cubs and Sox fans have always been passionate about this rivalry. The BP Crosstown Cup recognizes the excitement of winning the crosstown series,” Ricketts said. “In addition to bragging rights, fans will have a chance to win prizes through this promotion, which will make the series even more fun.”

Under the rules of the BP Crosstown Cup, the two teams will continue to meet in a yearly six-game head-to-head series as they have since 1997. The team with the most wins in the yearly series will be formally awarded the rivalry’s namesake trophy. If the annual series is split 3-3, the BP Crosstown Cup will be awarded to the winner of the series’ last game.

The Cubs and White Sox kick off their first series of 2010 at Wrigley Field on June 11 and will celebrate their 75th meeting on June 13. The BP Crosstown Cup trophy will be awarded in a formal ceremony at U.S. Cellular Field following the deciding game of the six-game series.

– Carrie Muskat

4/1 Ricketts eager to get season going

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts will be in Atlanta for Opening Day, and on Thursday, he sounded just like the players and the fans after seven weeks of Spring Training.

“I just want to fast forward — I’m so excited for that day,” Ricketts said.

This will be the Ricketts family’s first Opening Day as owners of the Cubs. Tom Ricketts and his family have been in Arizona this week and have attended several Spring Training games. He said there are times when “you think like a fan but have to act like an owner.” How hands on is he?

“I think the easiest way to address that is by letting [general manager] Jim [Hendry] do his job,” Ricketts said about the different roles. “I think that’s the right answer for keeping us from getting too involved in the fan-owner situation.”

* The Cubs have not picked a site in Mesa for their new Spring Training complex.

“We’re still working through the process down here, trying to find the best answer for everybody,” Ricketts said. “I’m very confident that with everyone rowing in the same direction, we’ll get there.”

MLB commissioner Bud Selig said recently his office had stepped in to help with the financing. Ricketts said it has yet to be determined what the final financing package will be.

“[Selig's office] help in trying to find a good solution down here will be valuable,” Ricketts said. “I think they were helpful from Day One really but I think now they’re giving us a little extra emphasis to try to get to a conclusion and that’s very useful.”

The new Cubs owner has gotten plenty of feedback from fans who want to keep the team in Arizona.

“It’s a great vibe down here,” Ricketts said.

* On the proposed Toyota sign at Wrigley Field, Ricketts said they’re working with the city of Chicago and hope to have a resolution, possibly by Opening Day.

* On whether this year will be the deciding factor in regards to Hendry and other’s jobs in the front office:

“With respect to this season being any more important than any other season in their careers, I don’t think so,” Ricketts said. “Everyone knows they have to perform at a high level every year. We really do want the high level of performance out of everyone in the organization and we want to make them accountable. There’s nothing about this year that’s any different than years past. It will be really enlightening for us — we’ll learn a lot about everybody this year. So far, so good.”

* Can Hendry add players at the trading deadline?

“We’ll keep an eye on that,” Ricketts said. “Obviously, things change between Opening Day and midseason so if there are needs, I think we’ll be able to address them.”

Ricketts has been given a heads up on some transactions and moves before they happen. He said the communication has been good.

“If it’s something on the bigger side, Jim will typically run it past us,” Ricketts said. “If it’s a less dramatic decision, he’ll go ahead. The information flow has been great. You guys know Jim well — he’s accessible, he’s straight-forward, he tells you exactly what he’s thinking so that’s worked out really well.”

* Ricketts said the team had been considering a statue to honor Billy Williams before he gave the go-ahead. The Cubs will unveil a statue honoring the Hall of Famer on Sept. 7.

“While we’re looking forward and thinking about the future of the team, we want to always honor and respect the past,” Ricketts said. “When you have a player who is not only that great a player but that great a person and who stayed as a valuable member of the organization for so many years, I think it’s the right thing to do.”

* The length of the sale of the team was an “unpleasant surprise,” he said, but that’s the only one.

“I told my wife [the length of the sale] was the closest I’ll get to childbirth and she said, ‘How do you know? You were at Starbucks,’” he said.

The Ricketts family has tackled quite a few projects from the beginning, including finding a new Spring Training site and rennovations at Wrigley Field.

“It was our goal to hit the ground running,” he said.

* How long will the honeymoon last?

“It’ll be nice to get off to a good start and keep all this positive energy going. I think we have the right team,” Ricketts said. “Lou [Piniella] and Jim feel really good about the team this year and as long as we stay healthy I don’t see why we’re not going to bring back the playoffs.”

This is the last year of Piniella’s contract. Will Ricketts get involved in those talks?

“That’s between Lou and Jim,” Ricketts said. “It’s Jim’s responsibility to put the winning team on the field, both players and manager. If you insert yourself into that discussion, you’re not adding value for one thing. You want accountability. It’s Jim’s responsibility and he knows it. He and Lou will tell me if there’s anything else they want to add to the discussion.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/5 Welcome back

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was in Mesa Friday to meet with Arizona legislators and was expected to discuss financing options for the team’s proposed Spring Training facility. Ricketts did meet with Cubs manager Lou Piniella. Friday’s lineup features three of the team’s last four No. 1 Draft picks, so Ricketts will get a chance to see the future Cubs.

– Carrie Muskat

2/23 Tom Ricketts address players

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts met with the players and staff prior to Tuesday’s first full squad workout at Fitch Park. It was his first address as the Cubs owner.

“There were two messages,” Ricketts said. “One is, it’s a family ownership now and we want everyone to feel like they’re part of the family. The second message is we’re very excited to get the season started. We feel we had a terrific offseason and we have great players and great coaches and we should have a great year.”

Ricketts said he could sense the serious commitment by players, many of whom showed up early in camp. Some of the players have said it’s nice to have an actual person to communicate with as far as the team owner goes.

“Well, I pride myself on being an ‘actual person,’” Ricketts said, smiling. “One of the messages is we’re around and if there’s anything we can be doing better, let us know. The fans will see us, too. We are fans and we’ll be part of the fabric at Wrigley this year. We’ll be around and accessible to both the players, fans and the coaches.”

Among the challenges he faces is Wrigley Field, saying the ballpark “needs a lot of love.” Crews have begun work on rennovating the restrooms and the concourse and fans will see changes this year.

While in Mesa, Ricketts planned to tour some of the potential Spring Training sites. As far as the proposed ticket surcharge for Cactus League games to help pay for a new spring stadium, Ricketts said he’ll leave that to legislators.

“I’m not going to talk about any of that,” Ricketts said. “We’re very confident we’ll get a solution that works for everybody down here.”

How many Cubs games will he attend during the regular season?

“As many as my wife will let me,” Ricketts said.

He does sound like a Cubs fan. It’s been a dream season already for the Ricketts family, who took control in October. What if the Cubs won the World Series in the family’s first year of ownership?

“Obviously, that would be off the charts,” Ricketts said.

– Carrie Muskat

1/17/10 Dominican trip

Tom and Todd Ricketts were to visit the Cubs’ academy in the Dominican Republic this week. Player development director Oneri Fleita said he will travel with the two Ricketts brothers, part of the family ownership group that took control of the team in late October, on Monday. Todd Ricketts will attend at least one Winter League game. The team’s training facility is located near Boca Chica.

– Carrie Muskat

1/6/10 Dawson to attend Cubs Convention

New Hall of Famer Andre Dawson will attend the 25th Cubs Convention next week at the Hilton Chicago. Dawson, elected to Cooperstown today, is the 46th former member of the Cubs organization to earn baseball’s highest honor.

“The Chicago Cubs congratulate Andre Dawson on his long-deserved election to Baseball’s Hall of Fame,” said Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts.  “‘The Hawk registered six outstanding seasons on the North Side, none finer than his 1987 MVP season when he paced the league with 49 home runs and 137 RBI. 

“An eight-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, Andre created countless memories for our fans and, along with fellow Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, helped bring playoff baseball to Chicago in 1989.  We look forward to celebrating Andre’s election with him and our fans when he attends next week’s Cubs Convention.”

– Carrie Muskat

12/4 Ticket prices, Spring Training, skating & more

The Cubs recognize these are tough economic times, so ticket prices for 2010 home games will essentially be flat for 50 percent of the seats. The “bronze” and “silver” level ticket prices will basically stay the same, while the “gold” tickets on average will increase about $2 and the “platinum” level will increase on average about $5.

“This isn’t the year to go crazy on ticket price increases,” Cubs president Crane Kenney said Friday. “The Ricketts [family] made it clear in their opening press conference that all of the profits in the business stay in the business.”

Kenney addressed some other Cubs topics at Wrigley Field:

* SEASON TICKETS: Attention anyone on the waiting list: There’s hope. Right now, there are about 120,000 people on the waiting list. The Cubs will have 700 new tickets available for 2010. Kenney said existing season ticket holders will be allowed to relocate to the now available locations if they chose. Stay tuned for more information on that.

* SPRING TRAINING: The Cubs should have an announcement in January about whether they will keep their Spring Training headquarters in Arizona or move to Florida for the 2012 season. The team has narrowed its list to two sites in Collier County near Naples, Fla., and two sites in Maricopa County, Ariz., including one linked to the Gila River Indian Reservation.

“The way we’re sizing this up is we’ve had a great 50 years in Arizona and they’ve been great partners,” Kenney said. “What [Cubs chairman] Tom [Ricketts] and the family is looking at is where should we spend the next 50 years.”

Naples has become a very viable option, and the Cubs do recognize that travel will be an issue in Florida. The closest teams are in Fort Myers, where the Red Sox and Twins both train. Kenney said he is considering all factors, including the demographics of the two states, to determine the best place to make a sizable investment.

“From the attractiveness of the business offers, it’s certainly even,” Kenney said.

The Cubs aren’t looking to build a smaller Wrigley Field, but replicate the Wrigley experience, he said. They want fans to be able to walk to the ballpark from their hotel and have restaurants, retail and golf nearby. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith has said he hopes the Cubs’ long tradition in the city will count, and Kenney said it does mean something to the Ricketts family.

“The deciding factor will be training for the players,” Kenney said. “Tom [Ricketts] has said at the end of the day, if it’s a push on all other fronts, where we can train the players to perform the best is where we’ll go.”

* WRIGLEY FIELD: The Ricketts family took a tour of the ballpark from top to bottom, examining everything from the washrooms to the players’ lounge to the scoreboard. There is currently some work being done to upgrade. Kenney said the family told him to “think long-term” in terms of improvements. Fans should notice better washroom facilities and concessions. Part of the process has been Kenney taste-testing hot dogs to find the best one.

The players should have a better weight room when they report in 2010. The umpires’ dressing room is being relocated. The back of the scoreboard is being repaired and updated. There are no plans for a video scoreboard, but the team is looking into having replays and stats available for fans at the ballpark to use on their iPhones and other hand-held devices.

The team is negotiating with businesses to find a sponsor for the billboards projected for left field. Kenney said the goal is to preserve the culture of Wrigley Field but also bring in revenue.

The team hopes to create a club on the mezzanine level where Suites 1-6 are currently located. About 80 tickets will be available for that location, and fans will have access to their own concessions and a bar. The tickets will be sold as season tickets. Expect an announcement sometime after Christmas.

* TRIANGLE BUILDING: The Cubs are interviewing architects and engineers to get the project going. The building, which will be located on Clark Street, west of Wrigley Field, could house offices, a restaurant and retail options.

* ICE RINK: The Cubs are building an ice rink in the parking lot west of Wrigley Field which will be open this winter. More details to come. It’s being done in conjunction with the Chicago Park District, and because of the interest created by the NHL Winter Classic played at Wrigley on Jan. 1.

– Carrie Muskat

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