I could have broken the story on this blog last week and ended all of the speculation and anxiety.
The reporter that’s left in me wanted to. Instead, I sat on the news.
When I received the call last Thursday morning that the name I nominated won the “Name the Team” contest, I was stunned.
Surely, I couldn’t have been the only one who nominated that name. Right? Wrong.
Corn Belters was my favorite of the two names I entered in the contest. It’s a name that matches the geography around the ballpark as well as around the community, county, and state. It’s a name that can easily be marketed in combination with Normal outside the area. For me, it conjures up good feelings of playing 17 years on the mostly rural diamonds of the Corn Valley baseball league and playing for the WJBC Cornybelters fastpitch softball team many years ago.
But it was a name that I quickly ditched for something new and different when I thought it was unpopular.
I voted for Corn Belters twice during the tainted first election. The first time I voted, it was running at 6 percent support. The second time I voted, the Corn Belters had zero percent. Zip. I was beginning to settle for the Nutz.
That’s when I knew something was wrong. Fans of the Coal Bears correctly smelled a rat.
I was pleased when the owners restarted the voting. The new system worked very well. Voters had to type in a code, discouraging computer aided or spam voting. Yeah, it would have been nice to see instantly how your favorite name was faring in the poll, but not posting the results made for more drama.
A Christian-based sports organization ran the election. You can’t get anymore credible than that.
Instead of a million votes, we ended up with a few thousand. That seemed about right.
I voted for the Camel Backs. Turncoat.
At least my son voted for the Corn Belters.
And the Corn Belters came out on top, by a pretty good margin as I understand it.
Last Thursday, when Normal Professional Baseball’s Steve Malliet asked me on the telephone if I was the Adam Nielsen he knew, I laughed. The owners really didn’t know who nominated the names.
When it sunk in I immediately recognized that there was no way I could accept the prize. Unless I wanted to be — as someone aptly put it — “blogged to death.”
No, I sure didn’t want that fate. I might be slow sometimes, but I’m not Nutz.
I served on the committee that attracted professional baseball to Normal. As a council member I voted to hire a consultant to speed up the process when time began to run out. I voted to approve a one-time Town contribution of $1.5 million to for parking and infrastructure to make the stadium deal work. I was an advocate for this project from the very beginning. And there was absolutely no way that I would accept the prize.
Just to double check my thinking, I called my wife. At Monday’s announcement, I joked that Dayna was my one person ethics committee. I could have predicted how she reacted. Without missing a beat, Dayna shouted into the phone: “There’s no way you can accept the prize.”
I laughed again, relieved.
That’s what happens when you have two former reporters in the family. Reporters can always smell blood in the water. I wasn’t going give myself the kind of self inflicted wound that gives people reasons to gripe.
Ultimately, the community voted to select the name. And the community ought to benefit.
Dayna suggested Unity Center for the suite. I thought it was an excellent idea. Unity kids live in the neighborhood and probably won’t be going to many games. This will give them the opportunity to experience a “luxury suite” at a professional baseball game. I hope they have a great time and all get a souvenir from the game with the $100 gift certificate at the team shop.
My daughter suggested giving away some of the tickets to people who have cancer. The Community Cancer Center is 10 years old. There are many children of cancer patients who need a respite from the stress of serious illness in their families.
The Baby Fold was an easy one. The Baby Fold does unbelievable work for children and families in our area.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters — a no brainer. Those tickets represent 24 fun nights out. Special Olympics? Same thing.
The point of this is simple. One of the beauties of baseball is that it is an accessible game. Minor league baseball is inexpensive, clean family entertainment. I’m confident the Normal CornBelters will run an outstanding, community-oriented business.
There’s no question: Professional baseball in Normal will be a huge hit
I am thrilled to be a minor footnote in this story.
GO NORMAL CORNBELTERS!