Richard E. “Dick” Jacobs, the commercial real estate mogul and former Cleveland Indians owner who helped refurbish downtown Cleveland and turned its baseball team into a winner, has passed away after a lengthy illness. He was 84 . . . Although Jacobs made his fortune in real estate, he became more widely known when he and his brother, David, bought the Indians from the Steve O’Neill estate in late 1986. The price was $40 million . . . Jacobs promised to run the club with sound business fundamentals. He wanted to “stay out of the way” and hire baseball experts to direct the team. He never told them what to do, only that they keep him informed, operate within the budget and be successful.
How nice would it be if every baseball owner had such a philosophy?
Jacobs’ impact on the Indians cannot be overstated. He helped bring that team back from an oblivion most franchises have never experienced. When the Indians are bad now, they lose some games and the crowds get smaller. When they were bad 30 years ago -- and they were always bad -- they lost way more games and virtually no one ever showed up. There’s a reason why “Major League” was set in Cleveland, and that reason all but disappeared after the changes Dick Jacobs made began to take hold.
I know it’s a commercial impossibility in this day and age, but if ever there was an owner who deserved to have his name on a team’s stadium, it’s Dick Jacobs. Progressive Insurance: the good press you’d get by allowing the team to change the ballpark’s name back to Jacobs Field would more than outweigh whatever benefit having your name on it brings. Make it happen and allow the legacy of a man who did more than almost anyone to help both the Indians and the City of Cleveland come back from the brink to be honored.