The Chicago Cubs are switching Midwest League affiliates from Kane County to South Bend.
The Cubs were affiliated with the Cougars the past two seasons, winning the Midwest League championship this year. They reportedly may change the nickname of South Bend’s team from “Silver Hawks” to “Cubs.”
South Bend was affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1997-2014. Before that, they were affiliated with the Chicago White Sox, from their inaugural season in 1988 to 1996. The team was known as the South Bend White Sox from 1988-94.
Andrew Berlin, chairman and CEO of Berlin Packaging LLC and a limited partner in the White Sox, purchased the Silver Hawks in November 2011 and has led the team into a renaissance period. This year the Silver Hawks set a new franchise record for attendance by drawing 258,836 fans, exceeding the previous record by 412. Noticeable changes have been made at the ballpark formerly known as Coveleski Stadium (naming rights were sold and the park is now known as Four Winds Field); in addition to many superficial changes already in place, the ballpark’s facilities are currently undergoing an extensive overhaul that surely was a draw for the Cubs. The ballpark’s artificial field surface also is being replaced with real grass, with work beginning on that phase of the renovation project next week.
It is no secret that Berlin wanted the Cubs, and he landed them the first real chance he had. The Cubs left Peoria for Kane County after the 2012 season, but South Bend’s ballpark wasn’t in the shape it is now and wouldn’t have convinced a heavy hitter like the Cubs to relocate their MWL affiliate there at that time.
Now that the Cubs have announced their move to South Bend, that leaves Kane County and Beloit for the Diamondbacks and Athletics to choose from. The A’s were affiliated with Snappers the past two seasons and the Cougars from 2003-10.
Here’s the rest of the Midwest League affiliation picture: Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays), Burlington Bees (Los Angeles Angels), Cedar Rapids Kernels (Minnesota Twins), Clinton LumberKings (Seattle Mariners), Dayton Dragons (Cincinnati Reds), Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres), Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers), Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians), Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays), Peoria Chiefs (St. Louis Cardinals), Quad Cities River Bandits (Houston Astros), West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee Brewers).
*UPDATES: The South Bend Tribune reports that longtime Silver Hawks manager Mark Haley will leave the Diamondbacks organization to work for Berlin, running South Bend’s new training facility. He managed South Bend from 2005-14 and was named Midwest League Manager of the Year in 2005, 2008 and 2013. The Silver Hawks won the MWL title in 2005.
Also, Kane County Chronicle sportswriter Kevin Druley reports that White Sox groundskeeper Roger Bossard, aka “The Sodfather,” will oversee South Bend’s transition from artificial surface to grass.