When the Cougars announced their affiliation with the Cubs going into the 2013 season, people assumed fan interest would be piqued by the news. Which it was.
But it also had another unintended effect. It caught the interest of the couple that wound up becoming the team’s new majority owners.
Renowned financial guru Dr. Bob Froehlich and his wife, Cheryl, were announced as the Cougars’ minority owners last year after the Cubs’ affiliation agreement started.
Two weeks ago, they took over as the majority owners, bringing the former semipro baseball player full circle.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Froehlich, known throughout the financial world and through his television work simply as Dr. Bob. “I’ve always worked in big corporations where they turned the business over to their families. Cheryl always wanted a family business, and I always loved baseball. This was a perfect coming together.”
As soon as the transition began from Mike Murtaugh and Mike Woleben, the team’s owners the past 24 years, the Froehlichs created a new board of directors that reflects that emphasis on family.
Eldest daughter Marianne Neidhart, her husband, Chris, and youngest daughter Stephanie Froehlich are among the board members. Murtaugh and Woleben remain on the board as minority owners, along with members of their families.
Since it was the Cubs’ affiliation that initially drew Froehlich’s interest, it’s no surprise that maintaining that relationship when the agreement ends at the end of the 2014 season is foremost in his mind.
“There is no higher priority,” Froehlich said. “Being a Wall Street guy and being associated with the Ricketts family (father Joe founded TD Ameritrade and his four children now own the Cubs), there is no higher priority to us than getting that extension. We’re in the Midwest League. All 16 teams would die to have the Cubs be affiliated with them. It’s a gem.”
Froehlich, now retired but a member of a number of boards of trustees, took the time last week to meet and greet the Cougars’ close-knit staff.
“It was like a wedding reception line,” Froehlich said. “They all came up to introduce themselves. That part has been really fun. We said to all the employees, ‘Don’t let today be your best day. Tomorrow we can figure out how to do something better.’ We want to continue to push it.”
The Cougars are routinely one of the most successful franchises in all of minor league baseball. But with his high-level connections, his commitment to family and his outgoing personality, he figures to shake some things up.
Froehlich said he will “take a much more active and higher profile role” than the previous owners.
“We don’t think you need to invent anything new, but you can take ideas from the other 159 minor league teams and make it better,” Froehlich said. “We need to Cougarize them.”
A year ago, Froehlich couldn’t have imagined where a chance email to the Cougars’ Web site led. But now, Dr. Bob and his wife Cheryl pull up to the ballpark and realize a dream has come true.
“It’s a pretty surreal situation,” Froehlich said. “My wife and I walked in and said, ‘This is, like, ours.’”Tags: Baseball, Kane County Cougars