Top 10 Iowa Cubs Facts You Didn’t Know

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Top 10 Iowa Cubs Facts You Didn’t Know

The Iowa Cubs are one of Triple-A Baseball’s exciting teams every sports fan needs to learn about. In fact, the Des Moines-based franchise is a high-level farm club for the Chicago Cubs. Any Iowa fan that bleeds Cubs Blue will know every information possible, from the team winning the conference title in 1993 to Cubbie Bear being the official mascot. However, there are new Iowa Cubs facts that many baseball supporters never knew or never heard of in their lives. For details on what facts baseball fans rarely knew about, please refer to Top 10 Iowa Cubs Facts You Didn’t Know below!

10: Principal Park’s Centerfield Wall was Damaged by a Storm in 2022

Inclement weather is one of baseball’s most common natural elements to take place around the sport itself. Bad storms can cause rain delays that force fans at open-air stadiums to take shelter in the concourses. In addition, natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes can leave affected teams no choice but to temporarily play home games elsewhere. But in rare circumstances, severe weather can cause significant damage at Minor League ballparks. Recently, that was the case when the centerfield wall at Principal Park was damaged by a storm. 

In July 2022, a series of bad storms came to the Des Moines area with heavy rains and strong winds. In fact, the 50-mile-per-hour winds were so strong that they knocked down the centerfield wall at the Iowa Cubs stadium. Fortunately, the incident did not affect the Triple-A team as they were on a road trip at the time. As for Principal Park, construction crew members have built a temporary centerfield wall that would meet the league’s standards for at least the remainder of the season. By the time the Iowa Cubs began their next homestand, the interim wall was already installed on the field. 

9: Iowa Cubs’ Skipper, Marty Pevey, is the Longest Active Manager in Triple-A Baseball

In the sports world, there are head coaches who would guide one team for at least 15 years. Mike Scioscia coached the Angels for 18 years (2000-2018), while Tommy Lasorda led the Dodgers for 20 years (1976-1996). Gregg Popovich has been coaching the San Antonio Spurs since 1996, while Mike Tomlin has been guiding the Steelers since 2007. Mike Krzyzewski piloted the Duke Blue Devils for over 40 years (1980-2022), while Bill Self led the Kansas Jayhawks for nearly 20 years (2003-present). But for the Iowa Cubs, Marty Pevey is the longest active manager in Triple-A Baseball. 

Pevey became Iowa’s skipper in 2013 after spending the previous three seasons in the same role for Chicago’s then-lower-level farm squad (Peoria Chiefs). He is currently the longest active manager in Triple-A Baseball over Dave Brundage, who has been leading the Sacramento River Cats since 2017. Anyway, Pevey guided Iowa to a division championship in 2019 and competed in the conference championship that year. However, the 2019 campaign was the only successful one for Marty Pevey, as the Iowa Cubs have not been able to reach the playoffs in any other seasons during his tenure. Despite a lack of experience in the postseason, Pevey is considered one of the respected skippers in the Minor Leagues. 

8: Principal Park in Des Moines Hosted Two Major Concerts During the 2000s

It is a normal practice for professional baseball ballparks to host live music concerts. In fact, there are big league teams that previously hosted large scale shows. Those teams were the following: Cubs, Brewers, Tigers, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, and many more. Concerts can vary with either a post-game event or just a stand alone performance during the off-season. But believe it or not, Principal Park in Des Moines hosted two major concerts during the 2000s. And that doesn’t count singing at National Anthems or having themed nights. 

In 2004, Bob Dylan made an ultra-rare appearance at the Iowa Cubs stadium along with country star Willie Nelson. Dylan is notable for his hit songs like “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Just Like a Woman.” Five years later, Dave Matthews Band performed a large-scale show at Principal Park as a promotion for their new studio album. The band is known for making hit songs such as “Crash Into Me” and “Crush.” However, the Iowa Cubs venue has not hosted an A-List concert since 2009. 

7: Iowa Cubs Have Two League MVP Winners in Franchise History

Winning a major award is considered a huge deal in professional baseball, especially for those who are trying to get to the Major Leagues. If a person wins Rookie of the Year or Pitcher of the Year, then this milestone could bolster his chances of getting called up to the big leagues. In addition, that person might face the scenario of receiving an invite to Spring Training (Florida or Arizona) from his team’s parent club. Luckily, for the Iowa Cubs, they have made Des Moines proud by winning two MVP awards. As a matter of fact, the team has won player awards along with one of the best open-air stadiums in the Midwest. 

Catcher Geovany Soto became the first ever Iowa Cubs player to claim MVP honors by batting 0.353 with 26 home runs and 109 runs batted in. Soto would go on to win National League Rookie of the Year with Chicago one year later. Also, the catcher guided the northside Windy City club to a division title in 2008 along with a playoff appearance that year. In 2011, infielder Bryan LaHair won the Pacific Coast League MVP with a 0.331 batting average with 38 long balls and 109 RBIs. LaHair would make his big league debut for Chicago in 2011 before playing in Japan and Mexico in his later years. 

6: Principal Park had an Iowa Cubs Game with No Fans in Attendance in 2008

In recent years, sporting events have been played without a single spectator in attendance. For instance, the Orioles/White Sox contest took place behind closed doors in 2015 due to the Baltimore riots. Most notably, the majority of the 2020 calendar year saw many games being played without the cheers and positive energy from the crowds. The main reason behind 2020 being the year of games without fans was because of a global pandemic. But did you know that Principal Park had an Iowa Cubs contest with no fans in attendance in 2008?

In June 2008, the Iowa team played a baseball game unlike any other against the Nashville Sounds. But not long before the game started, the city of Des Moines had to deal with heavy downpours of rain that resulted in flooding near the stadium. What made matters worse was that the ballpark was located near Des Moines River, which increased the likelihood of possible flooding. So rather than rescheduling the contest as a doubleheader or canceling the game altogether, city officials decided to have the Cubs play without anyone in the stands. Despite having zero energy from the crowd, Iowa went on to beat Nashville 5-4. 

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5: Iowa Cubs Stadium Saw Five No-Hitters Since it Opened in 1992

The Cubs know a thing or two when it comes to throwing no-hitters. In fact, the team was involved in four no-no’s since its inception as the Iowa Oaks in the late 1960s. Des Moines is one of the several Triple-A cities to have witnessed multiple no-hitters since the early 2000s: Sacramento, Oklahoma City, Syracuse, Gwinnett, and Worcester. Another thing to mention is that the Cubs went on the wrong side of the accomplishment three times in their club’s history. But for Principal Park, the Iowa stadium has witnessed five no-hitters since its opening in 1992. 

The first no-no in the ballpark’s history (then known as Sec Taylor Stadium) took place in 1999, when Salt Lake Buzz (now Bees) pitcher Frank Rodriguez threw one against the Cubs. Three years later, Calgary Cannons (now Albuquerque Isotopes) ace Jamie Arnold tossed a no-no vs. Iowa. New Orleans Baby Cakes (now Wichita Wind Surge) pitcher Scott Copeland and two others became the first to throw a no-hitter since the stadium became Principal Park, when the achievement was made in 2017 against the Iowa franchise.

In May 2021, Iowa tossed another combined no-no led by Shelby Miller in an effort vs. Indianapolis Indians. Approximately two months later, the Cubs had their third career combined no-hitter started by Justin Steele during a matchup against the St. Paul Saints. 

4: Principal Park was the Site for the 1997 Triple-A All-Star Game

Over the past three decades, Principal Park has witnessed some pretty exciting baseball events. For example, the Iowa Cubs reached their most recent postseason appearance in 2019. In addition, the Midwest stadium has seen five no-hitters since its opening in 1992. Cubs baseball is one of Iowa’s most visited sports attractions, along with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, Quad Cities River Bandits, and Clinton LumberKings. But in 1997, Principal Park in Des Moines was the official site for the Triple-A All-Star Game. 

For the first and only time in its history, the formerly-named Sec Taylor Stadium got to host the Minor League’s Midsummer Classic. The event’s main logo was pretty much plain, as there were no incorporations of the Iowa Cubs theme whatsoever. Some of the most high-profile players who took part in the All–Star Game were 3B Paul Konerko (Albuquerque), INF Aaron Boone (Indianapolis), and INF Craig Counsell (Colorado Springs). Team American went on to beat Team National by the final score of 5-3. By the way, this was the last All-Star Game before the two leagues changed their names to International and Pacific Coast in the late 1990s. 

3: There’s a Statue Outside Iowa Cubs Stadium that was Dedicated to the Owner’s Son

Most likely, every sports venue across the country has a statue either inside or outside the premises. For example, Wrigley Field in Chicago has two such life-sized figurines of Cubs legends: Ernie Banks and Harry Caray. Another example is that State Farm Arena in Atlanta has a statue of Hawks icon Dominique Wilkins. One more example to include is that Citi Field in New York has a life-sized sculpture of the late former pitcher Tom Seaver located near the home plate entrance. But did you know that there’s a statue outside Principal Park in Des Moines that was dedicated to the owner’s son? 

Michael Gartner, who owned the Iowa Cubs (1999-2021) and The Daily Tribune (Iowa Newspaper), has a memorial statue in honor of his son. Located adjacent to the water fountain display near the right field entry gates is a life-sized figurine of a young man running around with his dog. That young man was Christopher Carl Gartner (1976-1994), who passed away following a battle with diabetes. In addition to the statue, the family named a park (Ames, Iowa) after him called the Christopher Gartner Park. Along with the passing, another devastating part about the story was that Christopher never lived to see his father become the owner of one of America’s most popular baseball teams. 

2: Principal Park Hosted Chicago Cubs’ Watch Parties During the Team’s 2016 Run

The Iowa Cubs stadium is one of the most visited Minor League ballparks in the Midwest. Principal Park has a full-service restaurant at left field called Cub Club (which hasn’t reopened since the pandemic). In fact, the Triple-A facility has a huge water fountain display that is situated close to the right field gates. One more thing to point out is that any fan that sits in the right field foul line can enjoy the views of Downtown Des Moines. But interestingly, Principal Park has hosted major events other than the Iowa Cubs and live concerts. That’s right because the Des Moines baseball field served as the site for the Chicago Cubs’ playoff watch parties. 

During the 2016 season, the Chicago Cubs went on a playoff run for the ages as they won their first championship in over a century. But throughout that historic run, Chicago’s top-level farm team decided to support its partner right in Iowa. Therefore, Principal Park hosted watch parties for the Major League club’s postseason series against San Francisco (Division Series), Los Angeles (Championship Series), and Cleveland (World Series). At those parties, spectators purchased food from the concession stands and received free parking at Principal Park. Most importantly, the Chicago Cubs broadcast was shown on the Iowa baseball field’s right field jumbotron. 

1: Iowa Cubs Venue is One of the Only Two Waterfront Stadiums in Triple-A Baseball

Whenever a team decides to construct a new venue, the organization has different location styles to decide on. The first option is the downtown ballpark where the team can play in the city center (examples are Columbus Clippers and Memphis RedBirds). The second option is for the stadium to be located on the outskirts of town (examples are Tacoma Rainiers and Salt Lake Bees). Last but not least, the team might elect to place a ballpark as a waterfront venue in order to improve the overall ambiance. But for Principal Park, the Tides stadium is one of the only two waterfront venues in Triple-A Baseball (the other is Harbor Park-Norfolk Tides near Elizabeth River). 

Principal Park is located very close to the Des Moines River, not far from the downtown city center. Just in case you are wondering, a home run has never landed in the river because the outfield seats are too far to reach the area. Even though Principal Park is one of the rare Triple-A waterfront ballparks, the Tides venue is not the only such one in America. PNC Park in Pittsburgh is located adjacent to the Allegheny River, while Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport (Iowa) is situated alongside the Mississippi River. Oracle Park in San Francisco is situated next to Mission Bay, while Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati lies close to the Ohio River. 

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