South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg along with other regional leaders, recognized the history-making 2015 season of the South Bend Cubs at a special celebration held at Four Winds Field today at noon. The President of the Midwest League of Professional Baseball Clubs, Inc., Richard Nussbaum, and the Executive Director of Downtown South Bend (DTSB), Aaron Perri, joined Mayor Buttigieg in honoring the team.

The rare December event brought fans, business and not-for-profit leaders from across the region to applaud a team that established an historic record for attendance, won the national John H. Johnson President’s Award and was named Team of the Year in the United States by Ballpark Digest.

“The South Bend Cubs have taken baseball in South Bend to the next level. Their huge success has been a shot in the arm for downtown and a big part of our economic comeback,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg says. “I thank Andrew Berlin, Joe Hart, and everyone involved in the organization for their vision and dedication to South Bend. I am proud, but not surprised, to see this major national recognition come to the South Bend Cubs—and I can’t wait get back out to the ballpark in the spring.”

“Four years ago Andrew Berlin went to his first Baseball Winter Meetings being held that year in Dallas. His goal was to buy a team which needed some help; and to fulfill the mission of local investors to keep the team in the city of South Bend, Indiana” said Dick Nussbaum, President of the League. “He was successful in obtaining the necessary approvals to buy the team. Now, just four years later Andrew, Joe Hart, and their teammates will be going to the Winter Meetings in Nashville to be recognized by thousands of their peers from across the nation as the best run franchise in all of the Minor Leagues. It is an unprecedented accomplishment for the South Bend Cubs to reach this level of excellence with the kinds of challenges they faced in just four seasons. Well done Andrew.”

Hart said while the team will travel to Nashville this weekend to accept the John H. Johnson Award, “It’s really not an organizational award, it’s a community award.” Hart added they will display the award at Four Winds Field for fans to view.

Berlin spoke to several improvements that fans will see in the 2016 season, including a 200-seat party deck in right field attached to the South Bend Cubs Performance Center. In a surprise announcement, Berlin told the audience that beginning with the 2016 season, the South Bend Cubs will grant five $5,000 college scholarships to high school softball and baseball players from the region. Details regarding the scholarships will be made available as early as next week.

“We ask ‘where do great ball players come from?’ Most often the answer is they come from warmer climates, places where they can play ball year-round,” Berlin said. “We have built this outstanding facility, one that rivals any training facility in the nation, so we can continue to train great ball players right here. This isn’t so much about philanthropy, it’s to build on the dynasty of baseball that our community is founded upon.”

The home opener of the 2016 season of the South Bend Cubs is Thursday, April 7.

Watch coverage of the event.