ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Minor League Baseball announced today that the South Bend Cubs are the recipients of the 42nd annual John H. Johnson President's Award. The team will receive Minor League Baseball's top honor at the Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet on Sunday, Dec. 6, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
The John H. Johnson President's Award has been presented annually since 1974 to honor the complete baseball franchise. The award's criteria are based on financial stability, contributions to league stability, contributions to baseball in the community and promotion of the baseball industry. This is the first time South Bend has won this award.
Last winter, South Bend announced a new player development contract with the Chicago Cubs organization and in their first year as an affiliate of the regional fan favorite, set franchise records for largest single-season attendance (347,678) and average attendance (5,039) at Four Winds Field.
"This is an award we have to share with every fan in every city, town and village from a hundred miles around. Without them, we wouldn't be receiving it," said Andrew T. Berlin, owner of the South Bend Cubs. "This is the greatest baseball region in the world. It is an honor to accept this distinction on behalf of the executives at Four Winds Field who make it a place to call home for nearly 350,000 men, women and children all summer long. We have the best executives in the business and the best fans in Minor League Baseball."
"On behalf of the entire South Bend Cubs organization, we are incredibly honored to accept the 2015 John H. Johnson President's Award," said South Bend Cubs President Joe Hart. "To be selected for this prestigious award over some of the best franchises across the nation is extremely humbling. The 2015 season broke a number of longstanding records in South Bend and would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our front office and gameday staffs. We pride ourselves on having the most passionate and customer service-focused people working for us. It is wonderful to see their hard work recognized."
Since 2012, the South Bend Cubs have spent more than $7 million in renovations and improvements to their city-owned facility. The team used $3 million from that investment to update the playing surface and training facilities.
The South Bend Cubs host Home Run for Life, a charitable event that each month recognizes a different child suffering from a devastating disease. In 2015, more than $15,000 was raised to benefit the children's hospital. The club also participates in charity concerts, reading programs, charity walks and youth events to make South Bend a better place.
"Through dedication to their community and commitment to making Four Winds Field a better place for fans, the South Bend Cubs broke attendance records and became a business leader in their area," said Pat O'Conner, Minor League Baseball President & CEO. "This award recognizes them for their pursuit in setting a higher standard for all of Minor League Baseball. On behalf of Minor League Baseball, I congratulate the South Bend Cubs on an outstanding season and wish them continued success in the future."
"Over the last four years, there has been a baseball resurgence in South Bend," added Hart. "Fans are flocking back to the stadium in record numbers and have embraced our organization. Our corporate sponsors were also a huge part of this season. We cannot thank our fans and sponsors enough for their support and for helping make 2015 a record-breaking year."
"Of course, we would be remiss if we did not thank the Chicago Cubs organization and their entire staff for believing in our vision of providing the best facilities and care for player development," remarked Hart. "We also want to thank the staff of the Midwest League and President Dick Nussbaum who provides incredible support. We are honored and privileged to represent a league with so many quality organizations."
"An organization can find the best people, but without an owner who believes in that staff, success is impossible. We could not have achieved the success we have seen over the last four years without the vision and passion of owner Andrew T. Berlin. It is his belief of quality service in a clean and inviting atmosphere that provided the blueprints to our success," Hart stated.
"People will ask 'where do you go from here?' Well, we're just getting going. We make no small plans. This is just the beginning," added Berlin.