tom ricketts firing hendryOn the one occasion I had to meet Tom Ricketts, as he did his usual stroll-around-the-ballpark thing, he very much struck me as a guy who had had celebrity thrust upon him, rather than a guy who was craving the attention he received. That is to say, I got the impression that, as wave after wave of fans approached him to get pictures, autographs, and handshakes, Tom was obliging not because he liked the feeling of status. I think he liked the feeling of hanging around with the fans.

Against that backdrop, it was unsurprising to read this bit in Paul Sullivan’s latest article:

He wants to be considered a “steward” of the historic ballpark, not just someone who will sell every nook and cranny for added revenue streams. Associates close to Ricketts say he desperately wants to be considered someone with whom the average fan can relate, not just a rich owner focused on profit margins.

The article is about quite a bit more than that – it’s a general piece about the Cubs’/Ricketts’ plans for the organization coming to fruition – but that’s the paragraph that stuck out to me.

It really underscores, for me, something very, very important that Ricketts has said repeatedly since taking the keys to the Cubs’ kingdom: every dollar in the door is going to be put back into the organization.

So, when I harp on the Cubs’ ability to generate additional revenue – be it in the run-up to the Wrigley Field renovation, or as fruit from the renovation, itself, or any other number of ways the Cubs add additional money – understand that I’m not trying to help line Ricketts’ pocket. I want the Chicago Cubs organization to be the best organization it can be. And, with a trustworthy owner in place who says the dollars in the door go right back into that organization, I can cheer for more dollars.

That is all to say, I suppose, that I like hearing from “associates close to Ricketts” – as opposed to hearing it from only Ricketts, himself – that he doesn’t want to be seen as an owner looking to turn the Cubs into his own personal multi-billion-dollar lemonade stand. If he doesn’t want to be seen that way, he won’t be able to act that way. And that’s a good thing for fans who want to see the best possible long-term product on the field.

  • Nate Corbitt

    I’d read the article, but the Tribune doesn’t allow me to without a print subscription.

    • Theocracy

      All you have to do is use Mozilla Firefox with NoScript installed and running. It blocks the script that pops up the blocker for ChiTrib and you can read as much as you like.

  • Chad

    More $ in the door means more $ for scouting, prospects, and Free Agents. I like Ricketts a lot, and this is one of the biggest reasons. He actually cares about the cubs, not like the Trib Co. who just wanted to boost value when they were about to sell.

  • fearbobafett

    They still want to make money, it is in their blood. However they are all huge fans and they truly want to turn this club into a powerhouse. Once that happens the money streams will be coming from all angles for them. They know this, they are not dumb.

    I would love to see them just buy up all the property around the ballpark and then do what the hell they want.

    • Scotti

      The biggest way the family will make money is by the increase in VALUE of the team. This team is, potentially, a two billion plus valuation. They purchased at eight-fifty. Without ever taking a dime they could make 1.15 billion on net worth.

  • hansman1982

    “who had had celebrity ”

    maybe flip had to has?

    At this point, I think any fans who dislike the Ricketts better figure out how to stand him as he will be around for a long, long time.

    It is entirely possible we are seeing the beginning of a 25-year plan. While $1 not spent this year may not translate into an extra $1 spent next year, it will be reinvested into the Cubs Machinery. Be it, buying the land around Wrigley so in 20 years the Cubs will have a much larger degree of freedom to do what they want or to increase revenues so we become the Dodgers/Yankees and blow the White Sox out of the Chicago market.

    Same thing with the front office, it’s truly not about this year, next year or even the next 5-years. It’s about building the best organization possible so that we can be (ick alert) like the Cardinals where prospects keep appearing out of nowhere and turn into super-stars.

    • Brett

      It’s grammatically correct as “had had,” because I’m talking about a past encounter. Just one of those phrases.

      • Ceramvam

        Defend his grammar.. Check.

        • TonyP


      • hansman1982

        That would also assume that he is no longer having celebrity thrust upon him.

        I guess you could say that since he is a celebrity, the thrusting is over but the result remains so wouldn’t has be appropriate and easier to read?

        • Patrick W.

          No, “had had” is the best way to describe what Brett was saying. He struck Brett (at that moment in the past) like a guy who had (in the past) had celebrity thrust upon him. If Brett had said “He STRIKES me” then has would be appropriate.

          • hansman1982

            I never claim to be an English expert, at all. As in, I have no clue about any of it.

            • Ryan

              Well, then, you probably shouldn’t go around criticizing someone’s grammar if you have “no clue at all” about basic English grammar.

              “had had” is English Past Perfect or Pluperfect tense, which was perfectly acceptable usage considering the syntax of the sentence.

              • Cubbie Blues

                grammer … smh

              • DarthHater

                I don’t think hans was criticizing grammar, so much as offering a suggestion, the incorrectness of which he readily acknowledged when it was pointed out to him.

                Accordingly, you probably shouldn’t go around over-interpreting someone’s comments if you have no clue about basic social skills.

              • hansman1982

                I was merely engaging in the discussion and then admitting I didn’t know.

                Hyperbole was used.

                • hansman1982

                  That was worded poorly again.

                  My initial “I don’t know” response was me admitting that I was not correct.

                  • DarthHater

                    Socrates was the wisest man in Athens because he knew that he did not know.

                    • ETS

                      How did that play out for him?

                    • DarthHater

                      Turns out the Athenians thought he was a smart-ass. πŸ˜‰

                    • MightyBear

                      That was true wisdom.

                    • MightyBear

                      The fact that he knew that he did not know, that was true wisdom.

                    • ETS

                      This is a show founded on the ancient Greek principle of enlightened debate and the American principle of free speech. Or is that the ancient Greek priniciple of
                      feeding wisemen hemlock and the American principle of being annoying and loud so no one can get a word in?

                    • DarthHater

                      The ancient Greeks invented rhetoric and loved public debating, so they doubtless knew all about being loud and annoying. As for killing off wise men, I don’t think there’s much evidence that the Greeks made a habit of it. And they gave Socrates the option of going into exile, instead, but he chose to take the hemlock to prove his point, which could be considered either very idealistic or insanely extreme, depending on your point of view.

                    • ETS

                      apparently the reference didn’t stick

                • Patrick W.

                  I thought it was a perfectly pleasant conversation. A legitimate argument could be made on either side.

        • Stinky Pete

          “the thrusting is over but the result remains”

          Ahhhhh. Like my marriage….

  • MJ

    This article should have been titled, “Ricketts for Dummies”.

    I think smart Cubs fans understand that The Ricketts family isn’t the Tribune and they actually want to do right by the organization. It’s just the loud few who love to say, “Dis Rickman guy don’t wanna win nothin’! He’s just puttin dat money is his pocket! SIGN JOSH HAMILTON!!!!”

    The baseball side was severely understaffed and the business model was broken. This is a big mess to clean up and it’s in the early stages of it. We are witnessing a rebranding of the Chicago Cubs. The organization is finally in good hands.

    • Cubbie Blues

      We already had Hamilton and traded him away. πŸ˜€

      • hansman1982

        I’m turning in my grave with this comment.

        • MJ

          Yep. They did. So did the Reds. At the time, he was deep in a drugged out and drunken haze. What else might he have in his body that makes him do what he does? Good luck to him in LA. :)

          • hansman1982

            I know they did, in case you are unaware I spent the better part of 2 weeks explaining this every day.

            Considering the circumstances, bully to Jimbo for the trade.

        • Cubbie Blues

          What??? Do you disagree? πŸ˜€ I think we only got cash out of the trade.

          • hansman1982

            I am now performing a full floor routine in my grave…

        • cjdubbya

          At this point, whenever someone says this, I kinda want to be on some of the drugs he was on that caused him to be Rule 5 eligible in the first place.

          • Cubbie Blues

            Hence, the emoticon.

  • Bigg J

    I like Ricketts because he is dedicated to win and lets his GM and President do the work they are supposed to do unlike when George was with the Yanks and Jerry Jones in Dallas. He wants to win as he brought in Theo and knows what he can do to build a power house. I mean look at the jump we already made in 1 year with the farm. They may not have a championship team out there this year, but they have the pieces to win for the future.

  • Rich H

    You are sounding like a capitalist siding with these greedy owners Brett.

    We have heard that Ricketts is everything from the antichrist to the village idiot and it is refreshing to see an article that talks about him as guess what exactly what he said he was to begin with A FAN. Now lets see him do what we have all wanted for over a 100 years A World Series Victory. It is too early to say for a fact that we are getting there but the I have more hope every time I read a piece like this one.

  • BluBlud

    Tom Ricketts is a guy you want as your owner. He seems genuine in his care for the Cubs. The guy has a plan, and the right people in place to turn the Cubs into not just a winning team here and there, but into a winning franchise.

    Also, who cares if Ricketts lines his pockets. Last time I checked, that was the purpose of owning a business. I could careless if this guy makes a billion or a bajillionGazillion dollars off the Cubs. It’s his team, he owns it, and that his right to do. As long as we have a winning team on the field, who cares what his pocket looks like and how much he adds to it. I don’t care if we win a World Series with a 500 million dollar payroll, or a 20 million dollar payroll, as long as we are winning and we have something to cheer for. If that mean signing(insert free agent) for 20 million a year, or developing or trading for (insert prospect) who makes 450 thousand a year, I could careless, as long as they can play.

  • mak

    Have been saying this since 2011 draft, but in 25 years, we’ll look back at the Rickett’s ownership tenure and appreciate it as the turning point in the organization. After 2015, I sincerely believe this team will be a perennial contender, and we’ll get our WS before 2020.

  • Frank

    Unless I missed something, Tom is a rich guy that owns the Cubs. Owning and running the Cubs is a business first, but it’s nice to see an owner that has love and passion for the Cubs. I don’t think there’s an owner/family out there that wants so desperately to bring a winning/championship team to their city like the Ricketts family.

    I hope they make a boat load of money every year.

    I may get a lot of hate for this, but how about replacing the scoreboard with a jumbotron that is a replica of the old scoreboard, but a little bigger? I did email that suggestion to the Cubs and they were nice enough not to tell me to shut up.

    • Corey

      I thought about that too, and I think if they did it right, it could work.

      They could always take down the old scoreboard and put it in the future fan shop.

  • 1060Ivy

    Sullivan put together a nice puff piece. Usually, Tribune writers go out of their way to trash the Cubs.

    The story of the St Louis cabbie saying that the Cubs shouldn’t win too soon sounded almost heartfelt. Until you take a step back and realize it’s a story about what most likely is a Cardinals’ fan saying the Cubs should continue losing.

    Maybe Tom should reconsider repeating that story unless the aim of the story is to re-affirms the “larger go slow and do it right” approach which the Cubs have taken.

  • Timmy

    Sounds like he did a great job of branding and spinning. How well the team does over the next few years, and how affordable seating is at the ballpark, will determine his ultimate reputation. So far I see a bad team with expensive seats and overpriced beer.

    • Brett

      I would always support cheaper beer.

  • Corey

    Rickett’s reminds me of a less crazy Mark Cuban.

    If only the Tribue Company had let Mark Cuban own the Cubs.

    • 1060Ivy

      Forget about Cuban what about the Guggenheim Partner group which purchased the Dodgers.

      Yes, 2 totally different situations but still admire the investment that the group put into the team within months of purchase and continued investment in both free agents and infrastructure that the group is committing.

      Approach may ruin baseball for every just about every other team but they are setting their mark and respecting what passes for tradition in LA and Dodger Blue.

  • dsgn1

    nice site brett! just heard a fabulous story on 670. (hope this makes sense)

    a youngster about 12 had 3 cancers recovering from the latest. He had become good friends with Jack Hannahan who was just about out of baseball. Ricketts saw the kid in hospital and told him he should join him for a ballgame in Ricketts seats when better. He also gave him his email and said “don’t hesitate to contact me for any reason”

    months later, after the kid heard Jack Hannahan’s contract was not picked up, he contacted Ricketts and asked if he meant what he said, Ricketts said yes. Youngster asked him if the Cubs could pick up Jack. He passed his name along to Jed, turns out the Reds and another team started to pursue Jack who did get a contract.

    Jack called the boy and asked what he did? Feel good for Ricketts.

  • Stu

    He already has more than enough money to live quite comfortably. These guys get bored, so they buy a baseball team so that the ego can be taken to the next level.

    Let’s stop with the being connected to the “average” fan. Ricketts and his clan can claim all kinds of stuff. So what?

    Judge for yourself whether the entertainment value on the field is worth the dollars spent. That is it.

  • Dustin S

    Last year at the Convention, Ricketts walked up to us in front of the hotel one evening and talked with my family about the team for about 10 minutes. He is really a genuine guy who is a fan and wants the Cubs to win. He’s one of the most approachable people with as much money as he has as you’ll ever find.

    When he bought the team, it was like buying a shiny polished used car…except that it was kind of junk underneath it all. That was the state of the team he took over with huge contracts for players past their prime and an awful farm system. They’ve already come a long way in a relatively short time. Ask the Cards how important the farm system is, they lose Carpenter and Lohse and are like meh, we’ve got 4 good prospects to backfill. Ricketts could go out and drop a bunch of cash to improve the record for a year or 2 like the Tribune did, but it isn’t a sustainable way to have a successful team.

    And btw ESPN skipping the Cubs in their Cactus League review is ridiculous. Their news and site haven’t impressed me for a while now, so I tend to get my sports news elsewhere and just go there as a last resort.

  • Where’s Gene Hiser?

    ESPN: If it’s not football or the Yankees, screw it…

  • 5412


    I met Tom Ricketts for the first time in Spring Training right after he bought the team. We have talked and corresponded many times since. He is everything I would want in an owner and I have been going to Cub games since 1944.

    He not only listens to fans but I can tell you from first hand experience that he will act on things when he thinks they are necessary.

    It was late in the 2011 season and our last game before we headed back to FL. I saw Tom before the game and we visited briefly. Our seats at the time were by the aisle where you walk up to the steps to the pressbox. Tom came walking up the steps and the two seats in front of us were empty. He stepped in there, I introduced him to my wife, and we spoke for a good ten minutes. The last thing he said was to call us by name and have a good holiday and he will see us in Mesa.

    In talking to some insiders and Cubs employees they all say the same thing. He is genuine and they love working for him.

    We have to give the guy credit, he put his money where his mouth is investing in the team and infrastructure. They beefed up the scouting and player development department by 50%, and poured money into the farm system. I think it was Randy Bush who was quoted in the paper after the first draft with him as owner who said, “This is the first year I have been with the Cubs we have been given budget and explicit instructions to get our top 20 guys signed.”

    Ricketts is doing what he said he would do; building an infrastructure to keep the team on the field competitive year in and year out.

    All too often professional sports owners are the kind who sit in front of a stove and say, “Give me heat and I will go get you some wood”. Ricketts knows full well if he puts a consistent winner on the field there will be plenty of money for all. He is betting over a billion dollars on it.


  • Die hard

    Ricketts grew up in the bleachers and became a fan for life. He will walk the walk by preserving that experience for today’s youngsters. Less beer and more cotton candy.

    • TWC

      You tell ’em, Carrie Nation!

  • Pablo R

    Maybe Ricketts needs to ask himself why some people see him as “someone who will sell every nook and cranny for added revenue streams” and “just a rich owner focused on profit margins.”

    • Brett

      I think he already knows the answer.

      haters gonna hate