Results tagged ‘ Tom Ricketts ’

Cubs, Epstein agree on five-year contract extension

theo(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts announced that the team and President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein have agreed to terms on a five-year contract extension.

“In the five years under Theo’s leadership, he has brought in a strong executive team and acquired and developed some of the best players in the game. Now, the results are on the field. My family and I have no doubt that we have moved closer to our goal of delivering Cubs fans the World Series Championship they deserve,” Ricketts said, adding that the contract “ensures the baseball operations team assembled by Epstein will continue its remarkable tenure of building a consistent championship contender.”

“Both on the baseball and business sides, I believe we have the best leadership in the league and we are well positioned for sustained success,” Ricketts said.

Epstein originally joined the Cubs on Oct. 25, 2011, under the terms of a five-year deal. The major-league club has progressed from a 61-101 record in 2012 to 101 wins with five games remaining just four years later, becoming just the third team in major-league history to win at least 100 games within four years of a 100-loss season. Since 2012, the organization progressed to a 66-96 record in 2013 and a 73-89 mark in 2014 before surging to a 97-65 mark in 2015, the third-best record in all of baseball and an eventual spot in the National League Championship Series.

The 2016 Cubs clinched the best record in all of baseball with more than a week remaining in the regular season, reaching 100 wins for the first time since 1935 and maintaining the possibility of posting one of the top three win totals in 140 years of Cubs baseball. The Cubs have qualified for postseason play in consecutive seasons for only the third time in their modern baseball history.

During his time with the Cubs, Epstein has expanded both the size and scope of baseball operations leadership, increasing the organization’s emphasis in amateur, professional and international scouting, player development, analytics, research and development, medical operations and beyond.

Since taking over baseball operations, Epstein and his group have rebuilt the organization by making more than 40 trades to acquire players such as Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta, Addison Russell, Dexter Fowler and Kyle Hendricks; have been aggressive on the free-agent market to sign players such as Jon Lester, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey; selected impact talent such as Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. in the amateur draft; selected Hector Rondon in the Rule 5 Draft; signed Jorge Soler and many other future Cubs in the international market; and hired 2015 NL Manager of the Year Joe Maddon.

Epstein joined the Cubs after 10 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, the last nine as the club’s General Manager. He built World Champion ballclubs in 2004 and 2007, winning the organization’s first World Series title in 86 years, and saw four teams advance to the American League Championship Series (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008).

Cubs to host On Deck Luncheon Series

Ricketts(Photo courtesy Chicago Cubs)

The Cubs are giving fans an opportunity to connect with the team during the new On Deck Luncheon Series, presented by XFINITY and RSM, at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House.

The luncheon series will allow attendees to interact with Cubs ownership, executives and players, who will provide insight into the season and organization. Each luncheon will feature a live broadcast chat with featured Cubs guests, led by 670 The Score’s on-air personalities Matt Spiegel and Jason Goff.

The series of three luncheons will be held at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in downtown Chicago during the 2016 season, beginning June 23 with Cubs Executive Chairman Tom Ricketts as the featured guest. General admission tickets cost $50 per lunch. VIP tickets cost $95 per lunch and include an exclusive pre-event meet and greet with the luncheon’s featured Cubs guest and a complimentary cocktail for guests age 21-and-older.

More information and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at

2016 Cubs Convention: Ricketts Family panel

In their sixth year as owners of the Chicago Cubs, the Ricketts family goals to win the World Series, restore Wrigley Field for future generations and be a good neighbor, remain the same. Tom, Todd and Laura Ricketts will be on hand as 670 The Score’s Mully and Hanley discuss with them the strides they have made across each of these goals over the last year, plus answer questions from you, the fans.

The Ricketts Family panel opened up the full slate of Saturday panels at the 2016 Cubs Convention. With Tom, Laura and Todd Ricketts on hand, Tom opened up the discussion with the excitement of the offseason. He described his post-season meeting with baseball president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer. The front office duo proposed an ideal offseason for the club, with the understanding that it was unlikely it would all come to fruition. However, as Hoyer stated at last night’s Ryan Dempster panel, the organization was able to land just about everyone on their wish list; the team signed Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey in a trio of free-agent signings while flipping Starlin Castro for pitcher Adam Warren.

On the same note with Heyward, Tom was jokingly bitter at the reminder that the first game of the Ricketts’ ownership began with Heyward launching a homer to right field off of then-Cub Carlos Zambrano in the first inning of Opening Day, 2010.

The panelists were asked their favorite moments of the season, and Tom actually pointed to a moment in 2014, when Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo challenged the entire Reds dugout after Aroldis Chapman had thrown a few pitches high and tight on then-Rizzo teammate Nate Schierholtz. It showed his leadership capabilities and showed that as a team, they were not going to back down from anybody. It’s a trait that he feels carried over into 2015.

Laura’s favorite moment came during the one-game playoff in Pittsburgh, where the whole family was able to attend. Though it was on the road, she applauded the atmosphere, describing how loud the setting was.

“There were a great number of Cubs fans there that night,” Todd added. “I had a transformation of mind, like ‘we’re here, we’re in the fox hole, this is incredible.’”

Todd then described his wife as somebody who wasn’t initially committed to baseball, but something that has grown on her. But bitter from her take on Mets fans after the Cubs NLCS, she loved the Royals winning the World Series. After Matt Harvey refused to come out of the World Series game and the Mets wound up blowing a lead, his wife jumped out of her chair and yelled, “Screw you Matt Harvey, screw you!”

Tom said there won’t be many notable visible changes to Wrigley Field for fans this year, believing the updated clubhouse will be the biggest change to the ballpark. He explained the inferior state of the players’ facilities before they took ownership, and didn’t want to sell a first-class organization with third-class amenities.

The emcees then turned the questions over to fans in attendance.

The Ricketts’ were asked about, “the holdup on the extension” with Theo Epstein, who’s in the final year of a five-year deal.

Tom said they’re on the same page, with a deal that will likely work itself out in due time. He was unwilling to give a timeline, but believes a deal will get done that is beneficial to all parties. Ricketts also applauded his front office, noting that Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have turned down bigger jobs from other organizations in exchange for seeing out their World Series goals.

The family was asked about what it’s like to work together as a family. Todd said that as a kid, he was told by his mom that there could be squabbles inside the house, but they need to remember that they’re a family. Laura said that they have weekly family business meetings, where everybody is kept up to date. She also said Tom makes a lot of decisions, but they are all in the best interest of the family.

Another fan asked if there would be the ability to walk around the entire stadium in the near future. Tom fielded the question, and noted that one of the big issues is that the bleachers are general admission and there are not many other ballparks in baseball with general admission, making it difficult to regulate seating. And they’re highly desirable seats, people want to sit there.

In regards to Alderman Tom Tunney, the three wanted to remind people that the hope with the exterior Wrigley Field renovations are for people who live around Wrigley to treat Cubs Plaza like a town’s square of sorts.

1000 Words: Winning in style

On Tuesday, the Cubs punched their ticket to the National League Championship Series with a 6-4 win over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the NLDS. Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber all blasted home runs, and the bullpen sealed the game late to give the Cubs a 3-1 series win.

Yesterday marks the first time in franchise history that the Cubs clinched a postseason series at Wrigley Field. They now await the winner of the Dodgers-Mets NLDS series. The NLCS will get underway on Saturday.

Hot off the Press: The March issue featuring a tribute to Ernie Banks


On Jan. 31, 2015, the Cubs organization laid to rest the most beloved player in franchise history, Ernie Banks. For our special March issue, we talked to former players, front office members, fans and many others whose lives Ernie touched to find out what made Mr. Cub so special. We also have our 2015 season preview and a Q&A with new bench coach Dave Martinez. But, really, March is all about Ernie. Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts opened Banks’ memorial ceremony with a touching tribute. In lieu of our usual opening remarks, this month we let Ricketts, who got to know Mr. Cub well over the years as both a player and a man, kick things off. The following is a slightly condensed version of his speech from the service. I couldn’t have said it better myself.  – Gary Cohen

Hitting: good. Running: good. Attitude: very good.In 1953, baseball scout Hugh Wise typed these words into a report describing a 22-year-old Negro League baseball player named Ernest Banks. When asked on the scouting form how long it would be until the young shortstop was ready to play in the majors, Wise succinctly stated, “Can play now.” And while it was Mr. Wise’s intent to describe Ernie Banks the baseball player, he may as well have been describing Ernie Banks the man when he wrote in that very same report, “No outstanding weaknesses.”

Wise saw Ernie Banks play only three times that year, yet he knew he had found a special player and a special person. Later that summer, Ernie debuted as a Cub, and he went on to play 2,528 games over 19 seasons and collect 2,583 hits, 1,636 RBI and 512 home runs.

While those are incredible stats, never in history have numbers fallen so far short in describing the true greatness of an athlete.

Perhaps more so than any other great player in history, Ernie Banks was known as much for his off-the-field demeanor as for his on-the-field performance. Ernie was a model of decency and humility and was defined by his sunny, optimistic outlook on baseball and life.

Ernie was, of course, known as Mr. Cub. But you don’t get to be called Mr. Cub because you play in a lot of games or hit a lot of home runs. You become Mr. Cub because you love the game, the team, and the ballpark in a truly honest and sincere way.

After he retired, Ernie was asked if he missed going to work, to which he famously replied, “Work? I have never worked a day in my life. I always loved what I was doing.”

Ernie Banks was the most kind, sincere man I have ever known, and despite his fame and high profile, he always had time for everyone. The thing that sticks with me is how hard it was to get Ernie to talk about himself. He would say, “How are you doing? What do you do for a living? Do you have kids? Where do they live? How are your parents?”

Ernie was a warm, friendly human being who truly cared about those around him. I talked to dozens of people who dropped by the visitation yesterday, and almost everyone had a story in which Ernie somehow touched them in some small but meaningful way.

As we all know, Ernie Banks is not Mr. Cub because the fans loved him. Ernie Banks is Mr. Cub because he loved us back. It turns out Ernie became Mr. Cub through no other magic than just being himself. The bond he created with this city and with Cubs fans had no precedent in sport, and it will never be replicated.

For everyone who knew Ernie, and particularly for those of us who work at the Cubs, the thought of a summer at Wrigley Field without the smile of Ernie Banks, the laugh of Ernie Banks, the singing—and, sometimes, dancing—of Ernie Banks is just too painful to consider.

But the pain of the loss will always be balanced by the smiles that are only a memory away and the joy that will always be in our hearts, for we were all truly blessed to have known such a wonderful person.

So as we gather today to pay our final respects to this good and great man, I speak for all fans when I say, “Ernie, thank you. We love you, and we already miss you. And while we miss you dearly, we also know that as the Cubs take the field on a bright, sunny afternoon at Wrigley Field, you will be right there with us.”

2015 Cubs Convention: Ricketts Family Forum

As it does every year, Saturday at the Cubs Convention kicked off with the Ricketts Family Forum. Heading into their sixth season as owners of the Chicago Cubs, the Rickettses have made significant progress on the organization’s goals to win a World Series, preserve Wrigley Field for future generations and be a good neighbor in the community. Tom, Todd and Laura Ricketts were on hand with host Len Kasper to discuss the strides the team has made in support of these goals over the last year. As always, they also took plenty of questions from fans. Here’s are the highlights from this morning’s convention:

Pete couldn’t be here because he is now the governor of Nebraska. I guess that’s a good excuse, but the rest of the family is here.

Tom Ricketts opened things up with a statement about the state of the Cubs now. He started with the Ricketts’ three stated goals—winning a World Series, preserving the ballpark and being a good neighbor in the community. He said they have made a lot of progress on all of them last year.

Cubs Charities donated more than $4.5 million in 2014. Cubs associates donated 100 gifts of service during Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary year.

On the ballpark side, the Cubs had THE year. Ricketts joked about how easy that process has all been.

“We are going to preserve and improve the best ballpark in the world,” Tom said.

On the field, it doesn’t all happen at once. They have been spending a lot of time, energy and resources to build best organization in baseball. The new facilities in the Dominican and in Mesa, Arizona, have been big steps. They broke all Spring Training attendance records at Sloan Park/Cubs Park in 2014. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been adding talent through minor leagues, trades and the draft. It was rewarding seeing people say the Cubs had the top minor league system in baseball.

“When you add all those things up, we feel like last year was a real inflection point in the history of the organization, and we look forward to the year ahead,” Tom said.

Next came the question-and-answer session:

  • The first question is not a question, but a huge pat on the back from a fan. He complimented the Ricketts family on the care they’ve put into their ownership.
  • The second “questioner” brought a prepared, written statement. It started with an audible audience groan, but it was actually pretty complimentary. And not as long as you’d expect.
  • Another compliment, but we do finally get a question. She has heard the ivy and outfield wall are down and wants to know if they will be up for Opening Day. Tom says the ivy has been taken off the wall and laid on the ground, so they can work on the wall brick by brick. They keep what they can, and replace the damaged bricks. The wall is actually still standing right now. They will always keep the same ivy. Also, this isn’t the first time the ivy has been removed.
  • Laura takes a minute to thank the fans for their patience with this process. It’s a lovefest so far.
  • When are the bathrooms going to be done? They can’t say exactly when each thing will be done in the restoration. It’s a process. They can’t do everything at once because they want to play at the ballpark in the summers, so they can only work in the winter. The Cubs contemplated trying to play at the Cell or in Milwaukee for a year to get the renovations done faster, but quickly decided against it.
  • How hard is it to balance profitability with the other three main goals? Tom talks about the context of making money in sports. You generate as much as you can, you pay your expenses, then you take the remaining dollars and allocate them to the organization. That’s why the restoration is so important. That money goes back into the team.
  • A question about the three new rooftop properties the Ricketts family recently purchased. Tom talks about doing what is best for the Cubs to generate revenue and do what’s right for the team. They intend to run the buildings as rooftops for the time being. It’s what’s right for the team and what’s best for the organization.
  • Here’s the long-awaited question about the new broadcast deal. The questioner is now out of market for many games. Is there anything that can be done for people in Peoria, Rockford, etc.? Tom says the Comcast games are still on Comcast, but he talks about how the WGN Superstation—or the idea of a superstation in general—is going away. Tom says it’s a high priority to make sure people have access, but he doesn’t have many answers to offer yet.
  • If the bleachers aren’t ready on Opening Day what’s going to happen? Tom says it looks like it’s going to be a challenge to get that done. It could take through April. They do have a contingency plan in place for season ticket holders, and that will be discussed in detail in the Business Ops panel at 2 p.m. Renovating this ballpark is a big challenge, and there may be delays here and there, but it’s well worth it to continue to play at Wrigley Field, Laura says.
  • There’s a lot of talk about making the park more kid friendly. The Ricketts are working on it. Clark was a big step in that direction. But a 100-year-old ballpark wasn’t built with kids in mind. The restoration will add more kid-friendly aspects. Quote of the panel: “If you’re bringing your five best friends from college, Wrigley Field is built for speed,” Tom says. “But for kids, it’s a little bit more of a challenge.”
  • A question from a local resident about what fans will see at Wrigley on Opening Day and what the parking situation will look like. It will be similar to years past, Tom says. There’s the free remote lot. But things really won’t be that different from a parking perspective.
  • A fan who grew up in the 1990s asks a question about Sammy Sosa and whether a reunion is in the works. Sosa is the main reason he became a fan. Tom says there are a few things that have to happen before Sosa comes back. It was a pretty vague answer, but that’s been the answer for a while now.

That’s it. Off to the Baseball Ops panel. Stay tuned for more. We’ll be blogging all day today and tomorrow.

Now Playing: Cubs ring in the holidays with 100 Gifts of Service

The Cubs welcomed the Lake View community to their annual tree-lighting ceremony Thursday to celebrate the holidays and conclude the team’s 100 Gifts of Service initiative. The 100 Gifts of Service projects were part of a yearlong program featuring Cubs players and associates engaging in community service in celebration of Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday season. Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins was on hand along with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Cubs Charities Chair Laura Ricketts, President of Business Operations Crane Kenney and representatives from many of the organizations that benefited from the team’s charitable acts this year. The large tree, donated by Christy Webber Landscapes, is located in front of the Cubs Store at the northwest corner of the Clark and Addison intersection. We were at Wrigley Field last night to help ring in the holiday season. And look for a feature story on the 100 Gifts of Service project in the January issue of Vine Line.

The 1060 Project breaks ground at Wrigley Field


The restoration of historic Wrigley Field is officially underway. On Saturday, Oct. 11, the Chicago Cubs and the Ricketts family hosted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig, former Cubs pitchers Milt Pappas and Kerry Wood, city and state officials, community and corporate partners, and representatives from the project team at the groundbreaking ceremony for Wrigley Field’s long-awaited expansion and restoration, now titled The 1060 Project.

More than 200 people joined the team for the event, which included a ceremonial dig with special Cubs-themed shovels and a backdrop of construction already underway in the outfield.

“After years of working on a solution to save and improve Wrigley Field, we are thrilled to break ground on The 1060 Project,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. “This day marks a significant milestone in our quest to provide our players and fans with the best facilities in baseball.”

The 1060 Project will ensure the viability of the 100-year-old ballpark for future generations of Cubs fans, while preserving the beauty, charm and historic features fans have come to know and love.

“When you think of a baseball park that embodies its city, its community and its fans, there is simply no more powerful example in baseball than that of Wrigley Field and the profound bond it continues to inspire with Chicago, Illinois,” Selig said.

The four-year plan—which includes structural updates; improved player facilities; new signage, including video boards in left and right field; expanded concessions; new and improved restroom facilities; and much more—will be rolled out in four separate phases, beginning in the 2014-15 offseason. This privately-funded, $575 million project will create approximately 2,100 jobs and generate $1.2 billion in net new revenue to the local economy over the next 30 years.

“This restoration project is a significant private investment that will create thousands of jobs, ensure Wrigley Field can be enjoyed by Chicagoans for generations to come, and help the Cubs toward their goal of giving their fans a long-awaited World Series championship,” Emanuel said. “With this project, the Cubs are investing in more than just their historic stadium. They will continue to be a good neighbor by investing in the surrounding area for traffic flow, security and public parks. This is a great step for the Cubs and for all of Chicago.”

The 1060 Project team includes Pepper Construction, a Chicago-based firm that has nearly a century of experience on large-scale projects such as the Merchandise Mart, Marshall Field’s and the Shedd Aquarium; VOA, a full-service international architectural firm that designed many high-profile projects in the Chicago area, including Navy Pier, the Old Town School of Folk Music and Prentice Women’s Hospital; D’Agostino Izzo Quirk Architects (DAIQ), a full-service architectural firm instrumental in restoring Boston’s Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium and The Rose Bowl; ICON Venue Group, a project management company that has produced more than $4 billion worth of home venues for franchises in each major professional sports league, and has worked on Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, Toyota Park in Bridgeview and the Cubs’ new Spring Training complex in Mesa, Arizona; and Harboe Architects, led by nationally known, Chicago-based preservation architect Gunny Harboe, who has had oversight of major restoration projects such as the Sullivan Center, the Chicago Board of Trade and the Field Building.

The primary focus of the project’s first phase, to be completed this offseason, is infrastructure work. The ballpark’s structural steel and foundation will be strengthened, and much of the concrete in the Budweiser Bleachers will be replaced. More than 50 million pounds of new concrete will be poured at the Friendly Confines during the course of the restoration.

The first phase also includes the expansion and improvement of the left- and right-field Budweiser Bleachers. This expansion will provide more room for fans in the concourse, additional concession areas, and new group terraces where fans can congregate during Cubs games and other events. Several new outfield signs will be added this offseason, including a 3,990-square-foot video board in left field and a smaller 2,225-square-foot video board in right field.

Subsequent phases will address the improvement and expansion of player facilities; new bullpens and batting tunnels; new restrooms, concessions, seats, luxury suites, clubs, restaurants, and retail and entertainment spaces for fans; additional commissary space for food preparation; and an improved press box. A separate Ricketts family development will feature a hotel, a fitness club, a retail space and an open-air plaza adjacent to the ballpark.

For additional information about The 1060 Project, please visit And watch for the November issue of Vine Line, which will have a cover feature with details on all four phases of the restoration.

Now Playing: The Cubs kick off the Party of the Century at Wrigley Field

Despite typical April temperatures in Chicago and a 7-2 loss to the visiting Phillies, the Cubs still managed the kick off the Party of the Century in style. Friday’s home opener began a yearlong celebration of Wrigley Field, which turns 100 years old on April 23. The gametime temperature hovered in the high 30s—and a strong wind made it feel colder than that—but that didn’t stop 38,283 fans from packing the Friendly Confines. Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams were on hand to throw out the first pitch, and Ernie, Fergie and Billy sang the stretch (Sandberg was otherwise occupied with his job as Phillies manager).

Vine Line talked to Cubs players and personnel about Opening Day at Wrigley Field and celebrating the venerable stadium the Cubs have called home for 98 years. There’s no better place to be than Wrigley Field—in April or September.

Now Playing: Cubscast Mesa, Inside Cubs Park

Building a model organization is about much more than just acquiring the right players. Those players also need world class facilities in which to practice and train. Following the opening last year of their new training facility in the Dominican Republic, the Cubs took another step in the right direction this spring when they unveiled their new Cubs Park complex in Mesa, Ariz.

The facility includes Cubs Park—which seats 15,000 people—a two-story player development facility and a rebuilt Riverview Park. It all sits on a 146-acre site, making it the largest facility in the Cactus League.

“There are two things that all our baseball operations people have been saying since we walked in for the first time,” said baseball president Theo Epstein at the park’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “One is no more excuses. This place is as good as it gets. And the second is related to that. If we can’t get better here, we can’t get better anywhere. We will work extremely hard to put that World Series flag on top of this complex to finish it off.”

If you didn’t get a chance to head out to Mesa, this spring, we give you an inside look at the Cubs spectacular new Spring Training facility, inside and out.

We’ll be posting videos and stories from Cubs Park throughout the spring, so watch the blog and our Twitter account, @cubsvineline.

Check out the other videos from our Spring Training series:

Cubscast Mesa with Rick Renteria and the 2014 coaching staff
Cubscast Mesa with the top prospects
Cubscast Mesa: The lighter side of the Cubs, Part One
Cubscast Mesa: Meet the new guys
Cubscast Mesa: The lighter side of the Cubs, Part Two
Cubscast Mesa: The lighter side of the Cubs, Part Three