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Colin Powell in Newark plans


Colin Powell in Newark plans
The Newark Bears won the Atlantic League championship as recently as 2007, but it has been difficult to attract enough people to the downtown Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium to keep up with the league's attendance powerhouses of Long Island, NY and Somerset, NJ or most anyone else in the eager full-season circuit.

So when new ownership, the Bases Loaded Group, LLC, pulled the Bears out of bankruptcy everyone knew some fresh direction was in order.

It is obvious star power on and off the diamond and a healthy dose of community interaction are key ingredients Bases Loaded is hoping will turn the tide. "We're going to ask everyone in the community to say 'I'm In'", was the message from CEO and President Jim Wankmiller when New Jersey's largest newspaper, The Star-Ledger, gave the Bears key inches of ink after a recent media conference.

While some Baseball people disagree with major giveaways of tickets, Newark will throw out the welcome mat when the home season begins the weekend of May 1-3 by distributing 1,500 freebies for the Community Day opener and 5,000 tickets 24-hours later for "A Salute to Military." Those tickets go to military personnel and their families.

The Bears are pulling out all stops with celebrities, starting with former Secretary of State Colin Powell for the first-ball ceremony and Grammy winner Patti LaBelle for the National Anthem for the opener and retired All-Star first baseman Tino Martinez for the first of a season-long Legends Sunday tribute.

New Manager Tim Raines, a legend in his own right for 808 career stolen bases, is surrounding himself with the offspring of major leaguers. His own son, Tim, Jr., is being counted on along with Dustin Smith, the son of Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, Anthony Manual, son of New York Mets Manager Jerry Manuel, Oscar Gamble's son Sean and Daryle Ward, whose father Gary is a former American League Rookie of the Year.

Newark also has brought in designated hitter Carl Everett, who homered 29 times, drove in 100 runs and hit .327 at Long Island last season and Keith Foulke, who has 191 major league saves and another 43 wins on his resume.

INDY BREAKTHROUGHS -- The nicest fact about the 15 Independent Baseball graduates who started the season in the major leagues, a list that includes Arizona's Max Scherzer (technically on the disabled list but planned on as a starting pitcher), is that nine of them started their professional career in a non-affiliated league.

This includes righthander Chris Jakubauskas, who hurled two scoreless innings in his major league debut for Seattle Wednesday. Jakubauskas was in the American Association (Lincoln, NE) as recently as 2007, the same year Scherzer was in that league with Fort Worth, TX and Toronto starter Scott Richmond was in the Northern League (Edmonton, Alberta, now in the Golden League).

Jakubauskas became the 31st player who started in an Independent league to reach the majors since play began in 1993 and the 131st to make that climb overall.

NICE PAYDAY -- Even without J. D. Drew's $14 million salary with the Red Sox, the other 14 Independent players are due for salaries averaging $806,054 this season, presuming they are in the majors all season, based on figures reported by USA Today. The top four salaries are being earned by players who started in the Indy ranks. George Sherrill ($2,750,000) ranks second, followed by Stephen Drew at $1,500,000 and Max Scherzer at $1,450,000.

This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes on Independent Baseball. Fans may subscribe at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com The author has 16 years of major league Baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 10, 2009

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