Cover Feature

DeWine Family Finds

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Home Field
At 16, he and a buddy made it to Crosley Field and waited in line 36 hours for tickets. Somehow in the chaos the two got separated. My grandfather made it to

to its Advantage
By Judge Pat DeWine Looking down at the crowd outside the park he saw his buddy on the outside of the stadium wiping away tears. Dick got his attention, wrapped the extra ticket in a silver dollar that his father had given him, and tossed it down in the direction of his buddy. Miraculously, the silver dollar landed at his friend’s feet. Today, we call the entity in which our family owns the team “DeWine Seeds Silver Dollar Baseball, LLC.” If you haven’t been to Asheville, it is a great place. It’s a hippie-ish small city on the edge of the mountains. It’s something of a southern combination of Yellow Springs (where my parents are from) and Ann Arbor (where I went to law school). It has great restaurants, a thriving music scene and an unbelievable setting at the edge of the mountains. It is the home of the Biltmore, the Grovepark Inn and more microbreweries than you can count. My younger brother Brian — who worked for several minor league teams before we bought the Tourists — is the president of the team. (And I have to admit that there are more than a few mornings, sentencing criminal defendants, that I wish we could trade jobs for a day or two — or a
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n April 8, 2010, my 13-year-old son Michael (right) stood on the mound of historic McCormick Field in Asheville, North Carolina, and delivered a solid strike down the middle of the plate as my dad (Attorney General Mike DeWine), myself and other family members looked on. That ceremonial first pitch kicked off the Asheville Tourists’ baseball season and inaugurated my family’s ownership of the team. The Tourists are a minor league single-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Few people in Cincinnati are aware of our relationship to the team. What is a family that is mostly known for its involvement in politics and law doing in the baseball business? While the club is an investment, owning a baseball team is something that has long been a dream of our family. To grow up in my family was to grow up a baseball fan. For as long as I can remember, my dad shared Reds season tickets with friends and law partners. Some of my earliest memories are of making the hour-plus trek from our family home in Cedarville to Riverfront Stadium — back in the era of 8:05 evening game times that made for some tired starts to the next school day. Without question the biggest baseball fan in my family was my grandfather Dick, who built a successful international seed business in Yellow Springs. He imparted his love of baseball not just to me but to my Dad and each of my seven brothers and sisters. He was a great storyteller, and his favorite baseball story was of the 1939 World Series.

Above, Michael DeWine delivers 2010 Tourist first pitch. At right, Tourist President Brian DeWine and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine take in opening day at McCormick Field.

the front of line and bought two tickets. He searched frantically for his friend but couldn’t find him. Finally, he went into the ballpark and climbed to the top deck.

10 April 2012 CBA REPORT

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Cover Feature
month.) Minor league baseball is about providing value to fans for their entertainment dollar, and Brian has worked hard to do that. The between-inning promotions can be as much fun to watch as the play on the field. A game we attended last summer, for example, featured two fans in inflatable sumo wrestler costumes racing around the infield while another inning featured three fans sharing a pair of giant underwear as they raced around the bases. A promotion this year features 500 Obama bobbleheads and 500 bobbleheads of the Republican nominee. Each entering fan picks their favorite, and whichever bobblehead runs out first will be declared the winner and awarded the McCormick Field electoral votes. One of Brian’s first projects was to revamp the concessions within the stadium, upgrading generic concession grub to include such delicacies as deep fried moon pies and barbeque nachos. And last year, the team introduced a new logo, “Mr. Moon.” The name is a tip of the cap to an earlier Asheville minor-league team “The Moonshiners,” and a newly designed cap is the only on-field lid in baseball that glows in the dark. As major league baseball tears down its historic ballparks, McCormick Field is a place to cherish. Built in 1924, McCormick Field boasts more than its share of history. Ty Cobb hit a home run in the first (exhibition) game played in the stadium. It was reported in the national press that Babe Ruth died in Asheville after his collapse in a pre-season game. And in 1948, 8,000 fans over two games crammed into 3,000-seat McCormick field to watch a Jackie Robinson-led Dodger barnstorming team play the Tourists. As a Reds fan, though, my favorite bit of Tourist trivia is that in 1968 Sparky Anderson managed the Tourists to a Southern League championship with a team that featured two future Reds: a hot-hitting Bernie Carbo and a not-sohot-hitting Darrel Chaney. Not all the legends are even real. Crash Davis finished out his playing days as a Tourist in the movie Bull Durham, and if you visit the stadium you can see where part of the movie was shot. For most of their players, the Tourists are the first stop after rookie ball or college. If they play well, they will move
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up to the Rockies Advance A team, the Modesto Nuts, or, in a rare instance, to the AA Tulsa Drillers. The average player on the Tourist roster is about 22 years old; the oldest last year was 25. With some luck, a few will get a shot in the big leagues. The rest will have a few more years to play a kid’s game before they move on to whatever comes next for them. If you are ever near Asheville, there’s a lot worse ways to spend a summer evening than taking in a game. Seven dollars will buy you a ticket into the park; $3.25, a hotdog, and on “thirsty” Thursday, you can even get a beer for a buck. And for that $7 ticket, you can watch a bunch of kids playing baseball and chasing their dreams. That’s hard to beat.
DeWine is a judge on the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. Prior to being elected judge, he practiced law for 14 years with Keating, Muething & Klekamp PLL. In addition, he has served as a member of Cincinnati City Council and as a Hamilton County Commissioner. DeWine and his wife, Rhonda, are the parents of five children.

Photos by Tony Harlow. April 2012 CBA REPORT 11

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