TinCaps president Mike Nutter will be inducted into the Northeast Indiana Baseball Association Hall of Fame tonight, one of three inductees in the 2019 class.
Nutter has been one of the faces of the TinCaps since he took over as the team president in 2000. He guided the franchise's transition from Wizards to TinCaps and its move downtown to Parkview Field. For those accomplishments, the team has won the Johnson President's Award for organizational excellence and Ballpark Digest's Continued Excellence Award under Nutter's leadership.
The Hall of Fame spot has Nutter's name alone on it, but he considers it a team award, as well. This honor is extra special for him because it comes from people in the area. Fort Wayne is home for him and he is gratified to have been recognized by them.
“Sometimes I can be a victim of 'no complacency, can never let up,'” Nutter said. “I'm a rah-rah guy. There's always another game, there's always another ticket to sell and all those things are true, but as I get older, it is healthy to just stop for a minute.
“I'm not sitting in my office with my feet up going, 'Well, there's a plaque coming in.' It's good to celebrate and just be like, 'hey, that's cool,' and acknowledge it.”
The induction ceremony usually has a keynote speaker who is not an inductee – past speakers have included Burt Hooton and Denny McLain – but the NEIBA eschewed a speaker this year, making Nutter's speech likely the main attraction.
He joked that the collective batting average of the Hall of Fame will drop about 40 points with his induction, and he'll focus his speech in part on his unlikely path to a baseball Hall of Fame.
“I'm going to focus on a passion for the game of baseball,” said Nutter, whose son plays freshman baseball at Homestead. “And maybe if there's some youngsters there or high school kids or even college kids, you don't have to be the one everyone's cheering for to have a career in (baseball).”
Nutter and the rest of the TinCaps' staff weren't the only ones excited about the honor.
An MLB Hall of Famer also expressed his congratulations publicly.
“Congratulations to Mike Nutter on his induction into the Northeast Indiana Baseball Association Hall of Fame,” former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman wrote on Twitter. “His dedication to the TinCaps, the city of Fort Wayne, and all of Minor League Baseball is unmatched!”
NEIBA president Jim Shovlin said the vote to induct Nutter into the Hall of Fame was unanimous.
“(Nutter) faced a lot of adversity and a lot of naysayers about needing Parkview Field, but he did it all with class and character,” Shovlin said. “He's always there to support any kind of baseball, anything from T-ball and Little League all the way up to the seniors adult league I play in.
“He's always helped put the best foot forward for the Fort Wayne franchise in this area.”
Joining Nutter in being inducted into the Hall of Fame will be Huntington University baseball coach Mike Frame, currently leading the Foresters in his 35th season, and Mike Marchesano, an Elmhurst graduate who pitched for the Italian Olympic team in Athens in 2004 and led the staff with a 2.84 ERA.
Longtime World Baseball Academy instructor Andy McManama and umpire James Craig will also be recognized at the ceremony, as will South Adams pitcher Grant Besser, who is being honored with the NEIBA's first-ever High School Player of the Year Award.