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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 12:20 am

MWL president praises TinCaps in visit to Parkview Field

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps welcomed a special guest to Parkview Field on Tuesday night during their game against South Bend. Dick Nussbaum, president of the Midwest League, made his first visit of the season and checked in on one of his league's hallmark franchises.

Nussbaum told The Journal Gazette he was happy to be in Fort Wayne a little more than five months after the TinCaps won the prestigious John H. Johnson President's Award, given annually to the minor leagues' most well-rounded franchise.

"I don't know of any team that is more deserving of the Johnson Award than the Fort Wayne TinCaps, not only for what they did last year but for the consistent success they've had," Nussbaum said. "The ownership of Jason Freier and the way they've put together this stadium and integrated it into the downtown. The way they service the fans. I'm so glad they were able to get that kind of recognition."

Nussbaum said it is "incredible" how a team in a city the size of Fort Wayne draws a cumulative attendance of over 400,000 each year.

"What was really great for me as president is, the year before, South Bend had won it," Nussbaum said. "So you have two Midwest League teams in consecutive years to win the Johnson Award. I'm not sure that's ever happened very many times in minor league baseball."

The low-A Midwest League thus added to an already solid reputation. According to Nussbaum, it annually has higher attendance than any league outside the Triple-A level. 

The Johnson Award, since its inception in 1974, has been a way to honor the late head of the National Association that grew into the minors' current structure.

"It's emblematic of the best-run franchises," Nussbaum said, "and I've been saying year after year that we're the cream of the crop."

Pitching adjustment: South Bend will start right-hander Tyson Miller on Wednesday as they go for the three-game sweep of the TinCaps. The originally scheduled starter, Duncan Robinson, will pitch after Miller in a piggyback situation.