Opening Day 2013 at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Opening Day 2013 at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Remember how I wrote about the Newark Bears getting off to a fairly good start a couple weeks ago? Never mind.

Just call them the last place Bears. They have lost their last 11 games, and have just one victory since June 11. At least the first-year Trois-Rivieres Aigles have been nearly as bad all season, but they are playing .500 baseball over their last 10 games.

Worse, Newark’s losses haven’t even been particularly close lately: an 11-4 defeat by Fargo-Moorhead on Tuesday, a 17-5 drubbing by the Redhawks Monday, and a 14-3 loss to Quebec on Sunday.

The Bears have scored the fewest runs (148 in 34 games)  and given up the most runs (221) and second most earned runs (169). If that’s not a recipe for failure, I don’t know what is.

Newark has the lowest average attendance in the Can-Am League by far – 462 per game over the first 20 home dates. I’m not sure there’s another pro baseball team that’s been seen by fewer people this year. But between the weather (out of the team’s control), the quality of play, the team’s limited marketing efforts and seven weekday 10:35 a.m. starts in those first 20 home dates, it’s a wonder the average crowd is that large.

Since 2009, the Bears’ last playoff appearance and their last winning season, the team has done worse every year. From a 74-66 record that year, Newark fell to 53-86 in their final season in the Atlantic League in 2010. They finished 41-51 in 2011, their first year in the Can-Am League, and 35-65 last year.

It used to be fun to go watch the Bears play – the 2007 team was the best independent league team I’ve ever seen. (I think on any given day, they could have given the 2013 New York Mets a run for their money – at least as long as they didn’t have to face Matt Harvey.)

The 2008 and 2009 teams were competitive too, although the ’09 team is one I look back on fondly now for the strangeness of the season as much as the team’s actual accomplishments.

If the stands weren’t full during those years, at least there were usually enough people at the games to create the atmosphere of a professional sporting event.

I’d love to see the Newark Bears become a team that’s fun to watch again. But in 2013, I don’t think I’d recommend them to a friend.

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About Paul Hadsall

I'm the former editor of a weekly community newspaper in New Jersey. I've been a New York Mets fan for most of my life and I've been blogging about them, minor league baseball, baseball cards and autograph collecting since 2007. Contact me at paul@randombaseballstuff.com

32 responses

  1. Frank McCree says:

    Agree on all points. Poor team. No marketing. No support from city or county government. Few sponsers. They lost my respect when they forced Rutgers Newark baseball team to move scheduled doubleheader with Rowan to Staten Island in order to hold open try out. There was a $50 per player fee. They ballyhooed all ” the talent” that came out, but curiously no one was signed. I and other essex county tax payers contribute to the $1.1 million dollar a year payment made to debt service for the construction of the stadium. These payments, along with a similiar payment from the city of Newark, are due through 2029. The Bears are paying off $800,000 they are arrears in rent through 2022. My fear is that if Bears fold, no other franchise will want to come to Newark. But we will still be paying off the construction of an empty 14 year old stadium.

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  2. Freddy says:

    I wonder if the Bears are a candidate for that new Diamond League.

    The NJ Jackals attendance recovered nicely after the dorms @ MSU were finished. The only Can Am team ahead of them is Rockland.

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    • Paul says:

      I would be very surprised if Frank Boulton considered Newark for his new league, and I don’t see how a switch from one low-level independent league to another would help fix any of the Bears’ current problems.

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  3. markruck says:

    Wow! I didn’t know that the Bears bumped off Rutgers/Newark for a tryout.

    Let’s lay the problem where it should be–on Danielle Dronet. It’s a combination of ideas thrown at the wall to see what sticks combined with very sloppy work.

    Take a look at her Aggressive Promotions website. You’d think she’d show all of her best work. But, after the Bears and her hubby, there’s nothing. Her company looks as if it makes promotional posters. That doesn’t look like a way to market anyone in this day and age, but OK. But, take a closer look, as there are many misspellings and things look, well, awkward.

    There was a promotion called (something like) “Bears Owner for a Day.” Having done enough work involving baseball, some of it with the Bears in 2005 & 2009, I entered, as I actually have some ideas that I’d like to try even if only on a one-day trial. It’s nearly July and I’ve yet to hear a word and I’ve yet to see anything on their website which indicates that this promotion actually has legs (and didn’t run away :-) ).

    When they averaged 900-something two years ago, I thought that was a by-product of the leftover slime of Tom Cetnar and that things would get better with him out of the way. But 2012 was worse than that and this year worse still. Unless they’re a massive tax shelter or a front for something, I don’t know how or why they stay in business.

    The Diamond League probably won’t help Newark as there likely won’t be any familiar names for fans to hang their hats on, meaning that what would be coming in wouldn’t be much different that what would be going out–the only difference being marketing. And then we can find out for sure how much marketing would help baseball in Newark. The best thing that could happen to Newark would be an affiliated club. If only the Mets would have let the Yankees in last year while the Scranton stadium was being rehabbed. A lot would have been learned by many.

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    • Frank McCree says:

      The morning of a Saturday doubleheader between Rutgers Newark University and Stockton University, management dismantled the scoreboard for repairs. They had all March and April to do thus, but chose a game day. But the $50 a man try out took the cake.

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      • Paul says:

        Tryout fees are common. The Camden Riversharks also charged $50 this year, the Somerset Patriots asked for $40 and the New Jersey Jackals required $25.

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        • Frank McCree says:

          But the Riversharks did not schedule the tryout the day of a Rutgers-Camden doubleheader scheduled a year in advance. My beef is the disrespect, not the legitimacy of the event.

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    • Danny Liaci says:

      I run a fall varsity baseball league which consists of mostly essex county teams with a few others who join in. we play a game or 2 at Bears Stadium every year. All the teams want to play and are willing to put up the money to play there, but they wont use the lights, so u are limited to how many games u can get in for a day. I called the owners because through my club ball contacts over the years, I could have filled that stadium with baseball games 7 days and nights a week through the spring, summer and fall, when it was not in use by the bears. It runs about 700.00 per team for 1 game, and teams pay for the chance to play there. Thats 1400.00 per game, and u can play 6 games a day times 7 days. It would generate, almost 60,000.00 a week. you dont even have to worry about selling seats because the money would be made by the team fee. I had so many other ideas to throw at them, but I never received a call back, they must be using it as a tax shelter, because it has to be losing a ton of money. After a certain date, they use it as some kind of haunted house, halloween thing I heard, guess that picks up the bill for the rest of the year. I understand it takes a lot of money to upkeep that stadium, but the more intake the easier it would be. Maybe I’m wrong!

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    • Freddy says:

      Agreed on affiliated ball in Newark. Leave it to the Mets to foul it up. Most of the Mets fan base is Brooklyn, Queens, and LI. I don’t see the issue. Anyone?

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      • markruck says:

        Freddy,

        From what I understand, the Mets wanted to put a minor league team on Long Island a few years ago and the Yankees nixed it. So, the Mets returned the favor.

        Also from what I understand, the Yankees essentially said, ‘Give us Newark for a year and you can do anything you want and we won’t bother you.’ And the Mets wouldn’t do even that. So, if that’s true, you’re right; the Mets fouled it up.

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  4. Will in Central NJ says:

    I was at the Red Hawks-Bears game yesterday for a couple of innings during my lunch hour. The attendance (which included some friends and relatives of the players and bat boys) was predictably sparse. The heat index in Newark was reported to be 100 degrees.

    Yesterday might’ve been the only professional game I ever attended where you didn’t have to run after a foul ball. There was no competition for these souvenirs…..you could just walk over to where the ball landed and pick it up!

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    • Paul says:

      Even if I wasn’t at work, the weather this week has been too hot for daytime baseball to have much appeal to me. You have my respect for braving it for a few innings.

      I remember going to a couple of camp days that ended with a couple of dozen people in the ballpark because the buses all left before the game ended. Ryan Minor handed me a dugout lineup card as he left the field after an extra inning game in Somerset, and Henry Mateo handed me a broken bat on his way back to the locker room in Newark. I didn’t ask for either, I was just the only one left in the area.

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  5. markruck says:

    Paul,

    Thanks for clarifying and thanks for the WSJ link.

    “Temporarily relocate?” The Mets’ AAA affiliate has bounced around over the recent years and only because the owners of the minor league teams ditched them. As the Minor League Agreement comes up every couple years, Norfolk ditched the Mets because they were tired of their crappy AAA team and went with the Orioles instead. New Orleans was a two-year stopgap. Buffalo lasted two two-year cycles before deciding that nearby Toronto was a better fit. And the Mets likely won’t be in Vegas for long.

    As far as the lower minors, the AA park is 20 years old and in decent shape. Tradition Field is 1988 and they aren’t going to relocate here, even temporarily, for anything. What’s a Florida State League team going to do here anyway? Savannah plays in an old park (1926), but it was renovated in 1995 & 2007. And it’s also far away. Brooklyn is Brooklyn, already close by. And the Rookie League team isn’t coming here either.

    So, the Yankees’ offer was an empty one. No wonder the Mets said “no.” Though it would have been nice had they said “yes” and it would have been nice had the Yankees been more forthcoming.

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    • Frank McCree says:

      It has been 65 years since a major league team put a minor league team in Newark.
      Yet there are teams in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Lakewood, and Trenton. Sad.

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  6. Will in Central NJ says:

    In 2005 or 2006, I took a photo from the press box of the Bears & Eagles/Riverfront Stadium field while the national anthem was being played. Ruppert, the Bears starters, umpires, and some Little League team were standing at attention and facing the Stars and Stripes during a September game. (I had won a Preseason Fan Fest certificate for access to the radio booth for one game).

    When I look at that photo now, I see that the outfield fence is covered with local and national sponsors’ advertising. There were not one, but two tiers of advertising, foul line to foul line. Today, in 2013, there is barely one tier of ads covering the outfield wall. Several of them are by ownership’s side businesses. We all know advertising brings revenue; the correlating result is what we see (or don’t see) there today. Sigh.

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    • markruck says:

      Will,

      Three words: They. Don’t. Market.

      Six words: They. Don’t. Know. How. To. Market.

      More words: Look at Danielle Dronet’s Aggressive Promotions website.
      http://www.aggressivepromotions.com/index.html
      Look at “Portfolio.” You’d think she’d show her best stuff and as much of it as possible. But her clients are just the Bears and Spiel and, to me, it’s a sloppy mess with misspellings and it looks like stuff a fifth grader with a graphics program could do.

      Given that, that they’re averaging 400-something a game is absolutely no surprise to me. What boggles my mind is how or why they answered the bell for the 2013 season as they took a standing eight count in 2011 and a 9 1/2 count last season. It HAS to be a massive tax write-off or a front. Otherwise, these are the two most incapable businesspeople I’ve ever heard of. Pure alchemy.

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      • markruck says:

        Paul,

        I wrote a second reply to Will as it appeared that the first one didn’t go through. If both did, pick the one you like.

        Thanks,

        –Mark

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        • Paul says:

          Anything with links gets held for moderation. I’m hitting the “approve” button while watching the Ducks & Patriots game, so both your replies are live.

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  7. markruck says:

    Will,

    Three words: They. Don’t. Market.

    Six words: They. Don’t. Know. How. To, Market.

    More words: Look at Danielle Dronet’s Aggressive Promotions Website:
    http://www.aggressivepromotions.com/index.html
    You would think that she’s show her best work and as much of it as possible. But, her clients are just the Bears and the doctor and, with misspellings and general awkwardness, it looks like what a fifth grader with a graphics program might do.

    So, given that, that they’re averaging 400-something is no surprise to me.

    What surprises me is that they answered the bell for the 2013 season after taking a standing eight count in 2011 and a 9 1/2 count last season. Given that they appear to have an innate ability to continually scrape bottom, I can come to no other conclusions than the Bears are a massive tax write-off, a front or that these two are the worst businesspeople I have ever seen.

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    • Frank McCree says:

      In less than three seasons, they have managed to tick off a lot of people. Some were fans. Some were not. But now none of them will be. The Bieber Hoax made them a true laughing stock.

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  8. Frank McCree says:

    Just came to me, they are a baseball version of Bialystock and Bloom in “The Producers”. They are trying to turn out a poor product.

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    • markruck says:

      Frank,

      If only they were trying. Unlike “The Producers,” this will never be a successful show, even by accident.

      Wonder whatever became of the Bieber fraud allegation. Like everything else with them, I suppose, they were caught with their pants down. Remember MADD night two years ago? Beer pong along with a donation to MADD in the name of DUI’er Jim Leyritz? Sheer brilliance (sarcasm).

      Maybe these two come from the Jerry Nachman school of public relations where any publicity is good publicity.

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  9. Frank McCree says:

    While Sharpe James was fan, it appears Booker has associated himself from the team. Whatever team holds a press conference and no media even bother to show up?

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    • Frank McCree says:

      Disassociated, rather

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    • markruck says:

      Ooh, ooh, ooh, over here… Is it the Bears?

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      • Frank McCree says:

        I remember when the games were broadcast on 89.5 FM. The. Star Ledger assigned
        A beat writer to cover the team. Former Yankees signed autographs. Camps and
        Schools flocked to morning games. There were theme nights honoring local leagues,
        Organizations, and towns. Colin Powell threw out the first pitch.

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  10. Frank McCree says:

    Team lost again yesterday to make it 14 losses in 15 games. On road to July 11. Facebook page asks fans to welcome team back July 11th with “big party”. No explanation. Give aways? Celebrity appearances? Promotions?

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  11. markruck says:

    Frank,

    Sounds like Mrs. “Have a Rock’n day” talking. She wants people to support the team (maybe even volunteer to do stuff–she said that a couple years ago in a Star Ledger thread) and doesn’t understand that the team has to do stuff in return. One of them is winning. The other is promoting/marketing. As we both know, she doesn’t “get it.”

    Here’s one for you: We know the Bears are the worst draw, by far, in both leagues where Miles Wolff is commissioner. But, if you stacked all the teams in both leagues attendance-wise, the Boulders would be tenth, Quebec twelfth, the Jackals thirteenth, Three Rivers sixteenth and the Bears dead last. Meaning that even the best teams in the Can Am are in the bottom half of attendance overall. Or, in other words, the Can Am isn’t viable. After all, it’s not like the three decent drawing teams can remain here and play in an expanded AA where most of the teams are a thousand miles away. I wonder when the powers that be will figure that out.

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  12. Frank McCree says:

    Mark Jim Hague posted a classic blog on ownership in 2011. The New Orleans Mardi Gras theme was an immediate turn off to the blue collar baseball fans. The videos about the owners drove people crazy. All marketing disappeared, as did 80% of the fan base.

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    • markruck says:

      Frank,

      Oh, I know about that blog article. Do I ever! Something about Danielle looking for a rooster instead of a roster. I worked with Jim both in 2005 & 2009. Bombastic sort but he knows his stuff. And his blog, especially the stuff about the current Bears ownership is classic.

      There was also a Star Ledger article written by Amy Brittain in July, 2011. For laughs, I’ll attach it here along with the comments, of which I have more than a few. Enjoy!
      http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/07/how_court_battles_unpaid_bills.html

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  13. Paul says:

    Since some comments have stopped being civil, I’m closing discussion on this post.

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