Dick Jacobs, the man, who along with his brother David, purchased the Indians on December 11, 1986, and moved it from doormat to contender died early Friday morning at the age of 84. At the time, the Indians were being discussed as a relocation candidate for the newly built stadium in St.Petersburg, FL that is now called Tropicana Field.
During the Jacobs era of the franchise, a front office team was assembled, led first by Hank Peters and later by John Hart that transformed the organization’s farm system, and orchestrated the construction of a baseball-only facility in downtown Cleveland which became Jacobs Field in 1994. The new ballpark revitalized the City of Cleveland and the franchise. It led to one of the best periods in history with two American League Championships (1995 and 1997), five Central Division Championships (1995-1999) and a record number of consecutive sellouts (455).
The Indians announced on April 9, 2009 that Jacobs and the late Indians Owner Bill Veeck would be the inaugural inductees of the Cleveland Indians Distinguished Hall of Fame during a ceremony pregame on Saturday, August 1 vs. the Tigers at 7:05PM.
Jacobs sold the club to Larry Dolan on November 4, 1999. The deal was approved by MLB Owners on January 19, 2000 and officially consummated on February 7, 2000.
“Today is a very sad day for the Cleveland Indians organization with the loss of Dick Jacobs,” said Dolan. “Dick engineered the renaissance of Cleveland Indians baseball and achieved success at the ownership level that hadn’t been experienced in Cleveland since Bill Veeck in the 40’s. I was very honored and thankful to take over an organization with such a proud legacy that he had built.”
Mark Shapiro, who joined the Indians organization as an Assistant in Baseball Operations in 1992 and obtained a leadership role in the organization in Baseball Operations during Mr. Jacobs’ tenure beginning in 1994 as Director of Minor League Operations echoed Dolan’s sediments.
“Dick Jacobs was the caretaker and impetus for a special era of Cleveland Indians Baseball,” said Shapiro. “All of us who worked with him and for him were inspired by his strength, wisdom and toughness. He will be missed.”
Added Dennis Lehman who was hired by Jacobs as Senior Vice President of Business to oversee the Indians Business operation in September 1988, “Dick Jacobs was a visionary and a strong leader,” Lehman said. “He was a brilliant man, who surrounded himself with knowledgeable people. He demanded excellence and his attention to detail made his investments first rate among his peers. His depth of knowledge with his development business led the Indians to a level of professionalism not seen in Cleveland baseball.”
Former Indians GM John Hart, who is now with the Rangers organization has scheduled a 1pm EDT press conference to discuss the passing of Jacobs.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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