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A minor-league baseball team owner ended 2021 by surprising his employees with bonuses up to $70,000

Associated Press

  • The owner of the Iowa Cubs shared $600,000 in proceeds from the team’s sale to Endeavor with workers. 
  • Michael Gartner gave 23 employees $2,000 in bonuses for every year they’d worked for the team.
  • The bonuses ranged from $4,000 to $70,000, as many employees had worked for the team for decades.

The owner of the Iowa Cubs surprised his employees with $600,000 in bonuses last week.

The 83-year-old owner of the minor-league baseball team, Michael Gartner, called his 23 employees to the club’s stadium three days after Christmas — the same day that the team’s sale to Diamond Baseball Holdings, a subsidiary of the media giant Endeavor, closed. While the employees had been summoned on the pretense of receiving new business cards, Gartner handed out proceeds from the team’s sale in the form of bonus checks ranging from $4,000 to $70,000.

Yahoo! Sports was the first to report on the bonuses after the team’s former director of communications, Scott Sailor, posted about the bonuses on Twitter. Gartner did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication, but a spokesperson confirmed the bonuses. 

The bonuses were determined based on the number of years each employee had worked with the team. Employees, from workers on the marketing team to maintenance and accounting alike, were given $2,000 in bonuses for every year they had worked at the company. 

Iowa Cubs’ former director of communications, Scott Sailor, told the team’s local newspaper, The Des Moines Register, that Gartner’s gift meant a lot to the minor-league community, which is often characterized by “a lot of long days and a lot of hard work.”

Gartner was the team’s majority owner for 22 years, until the Endeavor sale closed last week. Prior to buying the team, Gartner was the editor of The Des Moines Register and a former president of NBC News.

Though Gartner has not revealed the team’s sale price, Forbes estimated the team was worth about $30 million in 2016. Gartner told The  New York Times that he believed sharing the proceeds from the sale “was the right thing to do.”

Iowa Cubs’ vice president and assistant general manager, Randy Wehofer, told The Times that Gartner’s gift was not entirely unexpected as the owner has been known for his generosity. In 2020, when the minor league baseball season was cancelled due to the pandemic, Gartner kept every employee on payroll.

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