The South Bend Cubs will be given Minor League Baseball’s top honor, the John H. Johnson President’s Award, during the Baseball Winter Meetings on Sunday, Dec. 6, in Nashville, Tenn.
The team is the 42nd recipient of the annual award, and is the fourth Midwest League franchise to receive the honor. (The other three MWL teams to win it were the 1980 Quad-City Cubs, the 2008 Cedar Rapids Kernels, and the 2012 Dayton Dragons.)
The John H. Johnson President’s Award has been presented since 1974 to honor “the complete baseball franchise.” Award criteria are based on financial stability, contributions to league stability, contributions to baseball in the community, and promotion of the baseball industry.
“To be selected for this prestigious award over some of the best franchises across the nation is extremely humbling,” South Bend Cubs President Joe Hart said. “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.”
Owner Andrew Berlin thanked the fan base that set new franchise records for single-season and average attendance at Four Winds Field this year. The 2015 season was the team’s first under a four-year player development contract with the Chicago Cubs.
“Frankly, this is an award we have to share with every fan in every city, town and village from a hundred miles around,” Berlin said. “Without them, we wouldn’t be receiving it. This is the greatest baseball region in the world. And it’s 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.”
Since purchasing the team in 2012, Berlin has spent more than $7 million on renovations and improvements to the city-owned ballpark. Major changes made in the past year include clubhouse improvements, replacement of artificial turf with a grass playing field, and addition of a baseball training facility that is open to the public year-round.
In the community, the club participates in charity concerts, reading programs, charity walks and youth events to help make South Bend a better place for everyone. That includes hosting the Home Run for Life, a charitable event that each month recognizes a different child suffering from a devastating disease. The team raised more than $15,000 this year to benefit the local children’s hospital.