For one of his final gestures as longtime chairman and principal owner of the Iowa Cubs, Michael Gartner, 83, gathered all of the organization’s employees in the Betfred Sports Lounge at principal park for a surprise.
Gartner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former president of NBC News, and his four partners recently finalized the sale of the team — while the exact sale price remains undisclosed, Forbes valued the team at an estimated $30 million.
Some of the employees were brought to the suite while others, away on vacation, joined via Zoom call as Gartner thanked them for their work. He handed them a stack of envelopes, stating there were new business cards inside.
“Everybody kind of laughed and at that point just with his tone, we knew there was going to be more than just business cards,” Iowa Cubs broadcaster Alex Cohen said.
However, inside the envelopes were payroll checks. Gartner and his partners were sharing profits of the club’s sale to all 23 full-time staff members of the team. Everyone, including the club’s custodian, received a check according to the number of years they worked for the team. Every employee collected $2,000 for every year they had been working for the Iowa Cubs, even as interns.
As the envelopes were opened, the employees became ecstatic and emotional. “It was pretty crazy,” Cohen said. “People were crying and shaking.”
A total of $600,000 — from the team’s sale — was given to the employees The longest tenured employee received a check for $70,000.
“It’s a fantastic gesture, no matter what business you’re in, but to be in minor league baseball with a lot of long days, a lot of long hours and a lot of hard work, it was really nice and appreciated,” said Scott Sailor, the team’s former director of communications.
When the COVID-19 pandemic halted the 2020 Minor League Baseball season, Gartner, unlike owners across the sport, refused to lay off or furlough his staff, keeping them employed to ensure they were able to get by.
Image source: Des Moines Register
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