TERRE HAUTE —
The future of the Terre Haute Rex is up in the air like a shattered wooden bat.
The team just finished its fourth season as a member of the Prospect League, one of many collegiate summer leagues around the nation. The team is owned by the Indiana State Foundation and president Ron Carpenter has publicly said, both before and after the season, that the Rex is no longer part of his organization’s mission.
On the field, the Rex provided a solid baseball team that finished with a winning record for a fourth straight season. Behind local talent such as shortstop Tyler Wampler — his .341 batting average was tops on the team and fourth in the league — Terre Haute posted a 32-28 record. But the Rex finished in third place in their division, 2 1/2 games behind second-place Quincy, to miss the playoffs for the first time since its inaugural 2010 season.
While the final record was positive, 2013 was the second straight season the team was not profitable, Rex general manager Casey DeGroote confirmed Thursday. DeGroote said the team struggled financially in 2013.
“Were we making money? No. We just need to invest more in it. We need more people selling it and beating the door down for businesses to be a part of the Rex. There’s a lot of unique ways to get involved,” DeGroote said.
Efforts to reach Carpenter were unsuccessful Thursday.
Companies like Great Dane became more involved in 2013, having two corporate parties and sponsoring the inaugural cornhole tournament on a Saturday afternoon in between two Rex games at Bob Warn Field.
The Rex reported attendance totals of 29,261 fans to the league, for an average of 975 per game that ranks fourth best in the league. Season tickets sold dropped from 415 in 2012 to 360 in 2013. Extreme heat in 2012 caused the team problems, but the 2013 summer was mild in comparison.
“We just didn’t have those big nights. We’d have 1,200 to 1,500 fans on five or six weekends in the past and we really didn’t have that until our last [home] game,” DeGroote said. “With our promotions, and we had some new businesses coming in, we’re still laying the groundwork for continuing to build.”
The Rex hit a previous high, according to intern Julius Smith in the ticket office, of 900-plus fans for the “Strike Out Breast Cancer” night in late July. Paid attendance that night was 1,446.
Prospect League commissioner Dave Chase is hopeful that Terre Haute can remain a key piece of the 11-team league.
“I think they’ve been unbelievable in Terre Haute,” Chase said. “I’ve seen kids running the bases on the field, and they can’t distinguish between the Terre Haute Rex and the New York Yankees. That’s the value of community baseball.
“I remain optimistic. Terre Haute is one of the star franchises in our league by the way they present the game. We’ve held them up as a model franchise for a long time. I loved the idea of the Foundation owning the team. I have talked to other schools urging them to look at it. I’m not privy to the internal workings of how it worked. I think it’s a viable opportunity. Perhaps it needs to be tweaked to make it work.”
Chase said that Aug. 1 was the deadline for teams to inform the league members that they would not be a part of the league in 2014 and that he has not been told the Rex are folding.
But a change in ownership could be coming soon.
Former Rex manager Brian Dorsett is researching the possibility of working with partners to own the team.
“I’ve had people approach me about getting involved with a group. I’ve not said no. I’d have to really look at how it would actually work. There’s a lot of unanswered questions that we’ve not been able to obtain answers to,” said Dorsett, a former major-league catcher and owner of Dorsett Hyundai and Dorsett Nissan dealerships in Terre Haute.
“From Terre Haute and for the players, and for the fans most importantly, I want to see it work. It’s going to take a big commitment, not just financially, but from the time perspective.”
Terre Haute mayor Duke Bennett has been a regular at least 10 Rex games each summer, he said.
“It’s been great entertainment,” Bennett said. “I love sports anyway. It’s been exciting to have a local team, a Terre Haute team, that people have rallied around. It’s nice to see people from Marshall, Rockville and towns around the area. They’re all kind of drawn here to see the Terre Haute team.”
Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., said he’s enjoyed seeing local businesses partner with the Rex. Witt said bringing baseball fans into the city is a good thing because those people could become aware of other amenities to make a return visit, providing the Terre Haute Children’s Museum as an example.
“It’s certainly a marketing tool. That’s why they participate in partnership. There’s a myriad of benefits that the team brings to the community,” Witt said. “The Rex are certainly a positive amenity for the community. They bring a great deal of pleasure to local baseball fans. It helps market the community in general.”
Chase said summer baseball and profits don’t always go hand-in-hand.
“Some make more money than others. Most are hanging around the break-even point. The real goal is to keep baseball in their community. We have some owners that are able to operate at a small loss and others are able to profit,” Chase said. “For almost 10 years, I was general manager of the Memphis Redbirds. We were a not-for-profit. We made millions and just put it back into the community.”
DeGroote remains hopeful that the hard work he and countless volunteers have put into the team can pay off under new ownership.
“I think we’ll be around. There’s too many people that want it to be around. Hopefully we can make it happen,” DeGroote said.
The mayor agreed, having seen quality people collaborate to bring a positive venture to the city’s summer landscape.
“You see the quality of the kids and it’s fun to watch. I’m hopeful that somebody will be able to pick this up and carry it forward. It’s turned out to be a positive thing for the community,” Bennett said.
TERRE HAUTE —
The future of the Terre Haute Rex is up in the air like a shattered wooden bat.
- Terre Haute Rex
Gems cut Rex hold on first place to 1/2 game
As good as the Terre Haute Rex have been in the second half of the Prospect League season — the Rex had lost just once entering Saturday's game against the Quincy Gems — the Gems themselves have given the Rex little reason to feel comfortable atop the West Division.
Metro sports: Rosselli, Biechler capture Prospect League honors
The Terre Haute Rex swept the Prospect League Player of the Week honors this week.
Rex return from All-Star break with a win at Danville
The Terre Haute Rex returned to action on Thursday in winning fashion as they defeated Danville 4-1.
Prospect League All-Star Game: East makes early lead stick in 9-2 victory
The West Division will have to overcome the East Division having home-field advantage for the second straight year in the Prospect League's championship series. The East jumped out to an early lead on its way to a 9-2 victory in the Prospect League all-star baseball game Tuesday night.
Like the Butler Blue Sox and West Virginia Miners in the East, Terre Haute can turn its focus to battling for a second-half title to earn a playoff berth.
Rosselli gets close to winning Derby, but River Rat triumphs
Terre Haute’s Tony Rosselli didn’t disappoint the hometown baseball fans Tuesday night, powering his way to eight home runs at Bob Warn Field.
But Rosselli lost in a five-out tiebreaker round in the finals to Kyle Jackson of the Richmond River Rats to take second place in the Prospect League’s Home Run Derby.
Shining stars: Rex manager Segal to lead West Division tonight at Bob Warn Field
Terre Haute Rex first-year manager Bobby Segal will guide the West Division against the East Division, managed by Chillicothe’s Greg Cypret, in the Prospect League all-star baseball game, scheduled for tonight at Terre Haute’s Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium.
Metro sports: McVicker brings home 3 gold medals
Jack McVicker of Terre Haute won three gold medals in the IBJJF Paris Open Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament on June 28-29 in France.
Indiana State's Rosselli, Zahn providing power boost to Rex
The Terre Haute Rex will have a pair of Indiana State baseball players among its 11 representatives in Tuesday’s Prospect League All-Star Game at Bob Warn Field.
First baseman Jeff Zahn will start at first base for the West Division squad coached by Bobby Segal, and Terre Haute native Tony Rosselli will be a reserve outfielder.
Rosselli hit his fifth and sixth home runs of the season Saturday to lead the Rex to their sixth straight win behind big offensive performances. The Rex have totaled 51 runs during their past five wins to start the second half of the season.
Rex roll to sixth straight victory Saturday
When the Terre Haute Rex get five runs in a game? Bank on a victory. Often times, they get far more than that.
So it was again on Saturday. A four-run fourth inning helped the Rex defeat Hannibal 8-2 in front of 1,028 fans at Bob Warn Field.
Rex roll to 18-2 triumph
The Terre Haute Rex cruised to an 18-2 victory over Springfield on Friday night, one night after scoring 15 runs.
ISU players key Rex to 3-0 start in second half
The Terre Haute Rex improved to 3-0 in the second half of the Prospect League schedule with a 5-1 victory Wednesday at Quincy.
Rex pick up 5-2 victory at Quincy
The Terre Haute Rex (18-13) and the Quincy Gems (17-12) each put runners in scoring position on Tuesday, but the Terre Haute Rex capitalized on more RBI opportunities, pulling out a 5-2 win at Quincy Stadium.
Rex get 10 players on West All-Stars
The Terre Haute Rex will have 10 players take the field July 8 for the Prospect League All-Star Game at Bob Warn Field.
Manuel DeJesus, who is batting .368 on the season, will be in the starting lineup for the West Division, which will be led by Rex manager Bobby Segal.
Rex third baseman Ryan Sabo, a .244 hitter, will start for the West, along with designated hitter Cayce Bredleau, a .276 hitter with a home run and 16 RBI through 28 games.
Rex down Hannibal Cavemen, 7-5
The Terre Haute Rex got back on the winning track Monday night in Prospect League baseball, scoring twice in the top of the first inning and leading the rest of the way for a 7-5 win over the Hannibal Cavemen.
Dans’ Sutton shuts down Rex
The Terre Haute Rex needed victories Friday night against Danville and Sunday against Hannibal to clinch a Prospect League playoff spot as the first-half West Division champion.
Rex win 16-4 at Hannibal
n Terre Haute 16, Hannibal 4 — At Hannibal, Mo., the visiting Rex scored six runs in the top of the second inning Thursday night and coasted home to salvage the final game of a three-game series.
Rex fall again to Cavemen, dropping into tie for first place
The Terre Haute Rex lost for the third straight night Wednesday, falling 8-2 in the second game of a three-game series at Hannibal, Mo.
The Rex jumped ahead of the Cavemen early in the game with a 2-1 lead in the second, but Hannibal scored three in the fifth and four in the seventh to take the victory.
Rex drop first of three-game series to Cavemen
The Terre Haute Rex dropped their second straight game Tuesday night at Hannibal, Mo., falling to the Cavemen by a 5-1 score.
Gardner comes home to haunt former team
A hometown player and former team member halted the Terre Haute Rex winning streak in Prospect League baseball at Bob Warn Field on Monday as Cody Gardner contributed two big hits to a 4-1 win for the visiting Danville Dans.
Trio hopes college success carries over to Rex
The Terre Haute Rex have championship aspirations and three players who played key roles in NCAA championship teams are hoping to carry that success to Bob Warn Field.
Rex beat Hannibal 6-3
The Terre Haute Rex rallied for six runs in the sixth inning and used the outburst to defeat Hannibal 6-3 in a seven-inning game at Bob Warn Field on Friday.
Rex win 3-2 in 12 innings
The Terre Haute Rex were nothing if not resourceful Wednesday with the Butler Blue Sox paying a visit to Bob Warn Field.
Rex return to winning ways
The Terre Haute Rex took their frustrations out on the Springfield Sliders on Tuesday at Bob Warn Field. The Rex snapped a six-game losing streak with an emphatic 11-1 victory in Prospect League baseball.
Starting pitcher Reagan Biechler went the distance as he allowed just four hits and struck out eight. He improved his earned-run average to 1.83 for the season.
Rex roll to 10-3 win behind Rosselli's three hits
The Terre Haute Rex moved back into first place in the Prospect League West Division with a 10-3 victory over the West Virginia Miners on Friday night.
Rex lose at Chillicothe
The battle of the Prospect League’s two first-place teams did not go the way of the Terre Haute Rex on Thursday.
The Rex, leaders of the West Division, fell 9-1 to the Chillicothe Paints, leaders of the East Division.
Rex roll to fifth straight win
The first-place Terre Haute Rex continued their hot streak on Thursday as the Rex won their fifth-straight contest with an 8-3 victory over the Quincy Gems at Bob Warn Field.
The Rex were never in jeopardy on Thursday as they took a 7-0 lead in the third inning and cruised from there.
VIDEO: Terre Haute Rex claim home opener 5-1
A memorable spring of college baseball ended last weekend for Terre Haute fans, but those at Bob Warn Field on Tuesday night heaped cheers upon hometown hero A.J. Reed. Sycamores Derek Hannahs, Tyler Wampler and Jacob Hayes also were recognized during the Terre Haute Rex home opener.
As has become custom when the calendar flips to June, fans cheered on the Rex to a 5-1 victory in front of 1,166 fans for the first home win under the new ownership.
Rex drop season opener at Danville
The Terre Haute Rex summer baseball team lost its 2014 season opener to the Danville Dans by a 10-3 score Tuesday night.
Rex set to begin Prospect League schedule on Tuesday
Fifteen U.S. states, one American territory and a foreign province are represented on the Terre Haute Rex’s baseball roster this season.
Throw in a bench coach — Tai Hayashi, whose home country is Japan — and you have a diverse mix of young men of different backgrounds set to gather for a 50-game season at Bob Warn Field.
Rex looking to expand fan base in 2014
Bruce Rosselli, part of the new Terre Haute Rex ownership group as well as the team’s general manager, hopes to build the fan base in the first year.
The Rex, who have returning sponsorships from Clabber Girl, Union Hospital and Old National Bank, among others, want to appeal to more baseball fans from outside Vigo County.
- More Terre Haute Rex Headlines
- Gems cut Rex hold on first place to 1/2 game