Cubs Draw 3 Million Fans, Name Organization Player, Pitcher of the Year

Cubs Draw 3 Million Fans, Name Organization Player, Pitcher of the Year

The Chicago Cubs today reached three million fans at Wrigley Field for the eighth season in a row and will be one of only four major league baseball franchises to surpass the mark every year starting in 2004. Remember, this for tickets sold, not fans showing up. Because we’ve seen how empty Wrigley has been this season.

The Cubs are the only Chicago professional sports team to ever reach three million in attendance and will be one of only four teams in Major League Baseball to have reached three million fans in each of the last eight seasons, joining the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (currently on pace), St. Louis Cardinals (currently on pace) and New York Yankees. They did this in typical Cubs fashion losing 5-1 to the first place Milwaukee Brewers, who are headed to the postseason while the Cubs season pretty much ended in May.

The Brew Crew is doing this with a fraction of the payroll.

The Cubs finished the 2011 campaign by welcoming 3,017,966 fans.

To commemorate the occasion, the team selected Donna Brookshire of Park City , IL as the symbolic 3,000,000th fan to throw the ceremonial first pitch before today’s game. Donna, who has been attending games at Wrigley Field for 53 years, came to the game with her great-grandson Kaleb Hacker.

Also the organization announced infielder/outfielder Bryan LaHair and left-handed pitcher Jeff Beliveau have been named the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

The 28-year-old LaHair was named the 2011 Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player after leading all of minor league baseball with an Iowa franchise-record 38 home runs, leading the PCL with 76 extra-base hits, 303 total bases, a .664 slugging percentage, a 1.070 OPS and ranking tied for first in the league with 109 RBI. In addition to PCL Most Valuable Player honors, LaHair was named to the all-PCL Team and was named Iowa Cubs MVP. LaHair was also a mid-season PCL All-Star and participated in the Triple-A Home Run Derby.

LaHair’s 38th home run set the Iowa franchise record, surpassing Joe Hicks in 1984, and he joined Mel Hall (1982) as only the second player in franchise history with at least 30 homers and 30 doubles in the same season. LaHair became only the seventh PCL player in the last 15 seasons to record at least 300 total bases.

This season marks LaHair’s second-career stint in the big leagues, as he hit .250 (34-for-136) with four doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI in 45 games with Seattle in 2008. He was originally selected by Seattle in the 39th round of the 2002 Draft. LaHair is the second Iowa Cubs player to earn Pacific Coast League MVP honors in the last five seasons, joining Geovany Soto (2007).

Beliveau, 24, combined to go 6-2 with five saves and a 1.57 ERA (13 ER/74.1 IP) in 53 relief appearances between Single-A Daytona and Tennessee , his first-career stop at the Double-A level. The lefthander combined to strike out 89 batters and issue only 19 walks in 74.1 innings, an average of 10.8 strikeouts and only 2.3 walks per nine innings, and limited opponents to a .192 batting average against.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Beliveau began the season with Daytona, where he went 0-1 with two saves and a 0.52 ERA (1 ER/17.1 IP) in 12 relief outings to earn the promotion to Double-A. Beliveau went 6-1 with three saves and a 1.89 ERA (12 ER/57.0 IP) in 41 relief appearances to help the Smokies to the Southern League championship round.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

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