Cubs' owners visit Smokies Park

KODAK, Tenn. (WVLT-TV) -- From the big city to a small town, the Ricketts family was in Kodak Tuesday, visiting the Tennessee Smokies. The Smokies are a Double-A affiliate of the Cubs.

Since buying the organization in 2009, the Ricketts family has made it a priority of visiting the team's farm clubs.

Recently, the Smokies have been one of Chicago's more successful minor league teams. The last couple of seasons, Tennessee has sent players like shortstop Starlin Castro, outfielder Tyler Colvin, and pitcher Andrew Cashner to the big league club.

"It's terrific," Tom Ricketts said Tuesday afternoon after talking to a room-full of Smokies' fans.

"It's critical that the organization produces players that are productive at the Major League level. A year ago, I was down here and there were a few guys that were playing out here that ended up on the big squad at the end of the season. It's critical to our success and it's good to see it happen."

The Cubs are currently 20-25 on the season and sit in fifth place in the National League's Central Division. Ricketts said you can always improve in three areas: coaches, players, and facilities.

"You can always get better. We'll always be looking to improve our facilities. We''ll always be looking to improve our coaching whenever we can."

"Of course you're always looking to bring in the best players you can find. Along those lines, it's not even just bringing in the best players from a talent standpoint, but the kind of guys that have the will to get the most out of the talent they do have."

The Cubs recently wrapped up a series at Boston's famed Fenway Park. Much like Chicago's Wrigley Field, Fenway is one of the older, more historic fields in baseball.

The Red Sox organization is in the process of renovating Fenway. Ricketts said the trip to Boston will serve as a learning experience, as Wrigley Field is also under going renovations.

Ricketts' goal is to preserve Wrigley's history and heritage while making game day a more fan friendly atmosphere.

"There's a lot that we can take away from what the Red Sox did at Fenway. The parks are almost the exact same age, with a lot of the same problems. Hopefully we will learn a lot from what they did at Fenway and some where down the line have as much for the fans at Wrigley as they do at Fenway."

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