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Jacobs Passes Away


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Best wishes to his family. Here's an article from MLB.com:


Former Indians owner Jacobs dies

Instrumental in bringing new park, winner to Cleveland


By Anthony Castrovince and Justice B.Hill / MLB.com


Dick Jacobs agreed to buy the Indians in 1986, and his decision to do so assured his legacy with Indians fans.


But it is what the team did under his ownership that will linger most in their minds.


Jacobs brought back the glory days of Indians baseball. His teams won five straight division titles from 1995-99 and reached the World Series in 1995 and '97. Those things will be what people in Cleveland will miss most.


They will, of course, miss Dick Jacobs, too. He passed away early Friday morning at the age of 83, after a lengthy illness.


"Today is a very sad day for the Cleveland Indians organization," current owner Larry Dolan said in a statement released by the club. "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 '40s."


When Jacobs and his brother, David, bought the team in December 1986, few fans could have imagined the string of success that would follow. Certainly, they had high hopes for the team; fans in Cleveland always do. But they had witnessed more than 30 years of failure, so they were skeptical.


He allayed their worries.


Jacobs, an easy-going, no-frills boss, hired John Hart as general manager and then gave Hart the freedom to rebuild the farm system, make trades and put together a championship-caliber club.


Granting such freedom was a rare thing for an owner to do, but Jacobs was a rare owner.


"He resisted the temptation to become a baseball expert, to pop off about where Manny Ramirez should bat in the lineup or who should manage the team," Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto once wrote. "He was one of the few owners in baseball history to really leave baseball decisions to his baseball people."


When the Jacobs brothers came along, they silenced rumors about the team, mired in mediocrity, moving to Florida. They spent $40 million of the fortune they had made in their Cleveland-based real estate business, the Jacobs Group, on the future of baseball here.


In the first year under its new owners in 1987, the team lost 101 games.


But Dick and David Jacobs had grand plans, and their plans started with getting the ballclub out of rundown Municipal Stadium. They urged local politicians to build a new ballpark.


"The team would leave if it didn't get a new ballpark, funded with tax money," Plain Dealer columnist Dick Feagler once wrote. "Once, such a threat would have been branded pure extortion. The politicians sniffed the wind and embraced it as new reality."


So did Cuyahoga County voters.


In 1990, they passed a "sin" tax on alcohol and cigarettes to finance the Gateway project, which included the new ballpark for the Indians and an arena for the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.


The renaissance hit full stride in the middle of the '91 season, when Mike Hargrove was brought on as manager and Hart took over as GM.


Work on the new ballpark began in early 1992, just months before David Jacobs, 72, died of pneumonia.


Dick Jacobs then became the sole owner of the team. The success that was soon to follow would cement his place in the hearts of the Indians' many fans.


One of his shrewdest moves was approving the team's move to the AL Central Division for the '94 season. Had the Tribe continued to compete in the East against the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles, its streak of division titles that was about to begin might never have happened.


The Tribe's beautiful new ballpark, which bore Jacobs' name, opened in 1994, and the team established itself as a contender before the players' strike in August cut the '94 season short.


When play resumed in 1995, the Indians won 100 of their 144 games in the strike-shortened season, propelling them into postseason play for the first time in 41 years.


That glorious '95 season ushered in a stretch in which the Tribe won a record-tying five straight division titles. The streak, as well as Jacobs' ownership of the team, ended in 1999.


While success on the field was an end result of his ownership era, Jacobs never forgot his business roots. In 1998, he made history by turning the Indians into the first publicly traded team in Major League Baseball. Stock in the Cleveland Indians Baseball Co. opened on the NASDAQ stock market at $15 a share.


Jacobs knew the Tribe's amazing run of success in the late '90s had to end at some point. He recognized that an unprecedented run of 455 straight sellouts at Jacobs Field was just one sign that the organization was at its peek.


By 1999, he knew it was time to sell.


The Indians, in turn, became the target of wealthy suitors, eager to become the owners of the dynasty Jacobs built from scratch.


But Jacobs wasn't going to sell his Indians to a faceless conglomerate. He knew better than to do that. He wanted to find somebody based in the Northeast Ohio area, somebody who understood what the team meant to the city and the fans.


Jacobs found his man in Dolan, a Cleveland native who was the president and managing partner of a local law firm. Jacobs sold the team to Dolan for $320 million, a hefty return on the $40 million that he and his brother had paid for the team.


"Dick is my greatest asset and my greatest liability," Dolan was once quoted as saying. "He's an asset because of all the outstanding things he's done for this organization and this city. But he's a liability, because he's going to be a tough act to follow."


No doubt, Dolan was right. Fans here are still waiting for the return of the good ol' days of Indians baseball. Those glory days of the 1990s will be Jacobs' legacy.


"Dick Jacobs was the caretaker and impetus for a special era of Cleveland Indians baseball," current general manager Mark Shapiro said. "All of us who worked with him and for him were inspired by his strength, wisdom and toughness. He will be missed."


At the press conference to announce the sale of the club, Jacobs was asked about the legacy he was leaving behind.


"I don't believe in legacies," he said. "I hardly believe in obituaries. I try to avoid both. As far as my legacy goes, people can think what they want to think."


And here's what people in Cleveland think: Dick Jacobs was one of the greatest sports franchise owners the city has ever had.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Justice B. Hill is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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Here's Castro with another piece about John Hart visiting with Jacobs just before his passing:


Hart says final goodbye to Jacobs

Former Indians owner and GM reunited Thursday


By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com


CHICAGO -- John Hart was grateful for the opportunity to have one last powwow with his old boss.


It was at Dick Jacobs' request that Hart, the former Tribe and Rangers general manager, flew to Cleveland on Thursday to meet with the former Indians owner, who was in the final hours of his bout with a lengthy illness.


Jacobs passed away Friday morning at the age of 83, but not before spending a few precious moments with Hart. Though Jacobs was unable to speak, Hart said Jacobs was able to hear and recognize his visitor.


"My first words were, 'Hey Dick, we're struggling and we need some pitching over here,'" Hart recalled in a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon. "'I have a couple guys in mind. What do you say?'"


With that, Jacobs raised his hand and gave Hart a thumbs up.


Back in the Indians' 1990s glory days, such requests and approvals were standard between Hart and Jacobs. Though his Indians couldn't always compete with the financial resources of the likes of the Yankees, Jacobs was an impassioned owner who knew how to support his baseball men without getting in their way. He hired former Orioles GM Hank Peters to build up the farm system, and he backed Hart, Peters' successor, in his vision of identifying core players and annually fielding a contender.


But when Hart reflects on the life of Jacobs -- a man he said he'll miss dearly -- he remembers him as much more than a boss. Jacobs was also a friend.


"He constantly amazed me with how smart he was, how bold he was," Hart said. "He was unafraid. He was tough."


In the early days of the Jacobs ownership, it took a tough-minded visionary to see through the fog of a franchise mired in decades of losing and playing in a decrepit ballpark, and realize the renaissance that was possible.


Jacobs was just such a visionary, even through the rocky first seven years of his ownership. He once remarked to Hart that he had "bought a pretty expensive hot dog" when he and his brother, David, purchased the club in 1986.


"But at the end of the day, he said, 'This is the right thing for Cleveland,'" Hart recalled. "It certainly turned out to be the right thing for Cleveland, and I think Dick, by his sheer will and intelligence, did what you want to see a baseball owner do. It was a perfect rebuild and, at the same time, he enjoyed the financial benefits of that, when it was all said and done."


Hart and his former manager, Mike Hargrove, both expressed appreciation Friday for the way Jacobs took a hands-off approach to ownership. Such an approach remains rare in professional sports.


"He always had the last call," Hargrove said in a statement released by the Tribe, "but he let John Hart, [former assistant GM] Dan O'Dowd and myself do our jobs, which I will always be grateful for."


Hart remembered taking the entire Indians' traveling party out for dinner in a ritzy restaurant after the AL Division Series clincher in Boston in 1995. When the time came for the bill to arrive, Hart, who had expected to pay for dinner out of his own pocket, was instead told by the waiter that Jacobs was in an adjoining room, had observed what was going on and had paid for the dinner.


"It had to be over $15,000," Hart said.


Hart had another story that demonstrated Jacobs' grit, more than his generosity. It was Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, in which the Indians famously saw their ninth-inning lead against the Marlins fall apart and their dreams of a championship squashed in extra innings.


Jacobs and Hart walked down to the Tribe's clubhouse in Miami that night, about the time Jose Mesa coughed up the lead. They watched the remainder of the game from the visiting manager's office.


When the Marlins' win was final, a broken-hearted Hart said he wanted to crawl out of the room.


"Dick popped right out of his seat and said, 'John, great season, we'll get 'em next year,'" Hart remembered. "And out he went. He was torn apart. But as soon as that thing ended, he wasn't going to mire himself in it. He gave me a big handshake and off he went."


Jacobs, who sold the team to Larry Dolan in early 2000, gave Hart, now a special advisor to the Rangers, one last handshake Thursday night. Hart said he spent about two hours with Jacobs, and he was thankful that he got the chance to say goodbye to his old boss and old friend.


"For me," Hart said, "it's the end of an era."


Indians fans would, no doubt, share the sentiment.


Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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I just saw an article about him passing away today, sorry I missed this article Bean. RIP Dick, I will always remember that you were the owner that brought back competitive baseball to Cleveland. What a run they had during those years, man, I miss those days. :(

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