South Bend’s Midwest League team will no longer be known as the Silver Hawks. Instead, it will take on the name of its new parent club, the Chicago Cubs.
The name change to South Bend Cubs wasn’t a surprise, but it was announced this morning at a press conference that included team owner Andrew Berlin, team president Joe Hart, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, and Cubs senior vice president of player development and amateur scouting Jason McLeod.
In addition to the name change, South Bend will adopt logos and uniforms modeled after the ones used by Chicago. Although some people wanted the Silver Hawks name to stay, the team wanted to take advantage of the national recognition associated with the Cubs moniker.
“It was close to a no-brainer,” Berlin said of the name change.
Berlin said the team may have Studebaker- or Silver Hawks-themed nights as nods to its South Bend heritage. He also said mascot Swoop will still be seen at Four Winds Field.
Four Winds Field is undergoing major renovation this offseason, including training-facility upgrades and replacement of the artificial turf with natural grass.
“It is important to have first-class facilities not only at the big-league level, but also throughout our farm system,” Epstein said. “South Bend provides exactly what we were looking for both as a community and as a farm club.”
Epstein said Four Winds Field is “a wonderful ballpark to begin with” and will be “gold standard, perhaps for all Minor League Baseball” once the renovations are finished.
South Bend signed a four-year player development contract with the Cubs after being affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the past 18 seasons. The Cubs were affiliated with the Kane County Cougars the past two seasons, and the Cougars won the Midwest League championship this year.
McLeod acknowledged the Midwest League champions, saying he was impressed by the team that won 98 games this year (91 during the regular season).
“In my entire career, I’ve never seen a team win like they did,” McLeod said.
Both McLeod and Epstein said the Cubs weren’t necessarily looking to change their MWL affiliation, but they were impressed with what South Bend is doing with its ballpark facilities.