News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Terre Haute Rex

June 26, 2011

FROM THE PRESS BOX: Rex feed summer need … and there’s baseball, too

The Terre Haute Rex are into their second season of Prospect League baseball at Bob Warn Field. In terms of growing a brand, the second year is always tougher than the first year.

During the first year, you have the advantage of being new, being something unique. No one has any preconceived notions of how good or bad you might be. You get a chance to make a first impression.

Add in the fact that organized summer baseball hasn’t been part of the Terre Haute scene since the late 1950s, and you have the advantage of selling summer baseball’s return to Terre Haute.

All of those factors are gone by the second season. By year two, fans have had a chance to make up their minds as to how worthy you are as an entertainment option. So it’s encouraging that the Terre Haute Rex still seem to be a path of growth, attendance-wise.

Through 11 home dates, the Rex are averaging 886 fans per game. That’s up from 825 fans they averaged in 2010, despite the fact gas prices are significantly higher and that the Rex have been up-and-down on the field.

It also confirms the role I’ve always thought the Rex would play from the time I began writing columns in the mid 2000s advocating summer baseball’s return to town. The Rex fill a significant summer entertainment gap for Hauteans, both sports fans and non-sports fans alike, that was missing for years upon years.

Applying my own amateur zen, attending a summer league baseball game isn’t really about baseball. The baseball is secondary to the experience of hanging out, having a good time, laughing and drinking with friends — and once-in-a-while — getting a thrill off the crack of the bat or a booming home run.

That relaxed summer vibe and long-ingrained nationwide tradition of summer baseball is a major psychological advantage the Rex have over, say, Indiana State baseball.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard grousing from (some) ISU baseball observers who figuratively roll their eyes at the inferiority of Prospect League baseball compared to Missouri Valley Conference baseball. Some of those dissenting voices wish that the ISU Foundation marketing team that does an excellent job to drive attendance and promotions at Rex games should also be tapped to boost the numbers at ISU games too.

It has become a bit petty — to the point where the small Rex promotional sign on the corner of Locust and Third Streets has become one source of irritation for (some) ISU baseball observers and alumni who bristle at the slogan that says “Baseball Is Back” in Terre Haute.

They say it never went away.

I don’t know about you, but if I notice the sign at all (my complaint is that the slogan is a year out of date, but that’s neither here nor there), it’s pretty clear to me that it heralds the return of summer baseball and isn’t intended in any way, shape or form as a slap in the face of ISU’s baseball tradition.

But that hasn’t stopped feelings from being hurt and there are rumors that ISU alums want to erect a bigger ISU sign to make sure no one has forgotten that the Sycamores play at Sycamore Field.

A sign war? As my kids might sarcastically say … “really?”

Having seen plenty of both, I agree that the quality of Missouri Valley Conference baseball is superior to Prospect League baseball. The Prospect League is far from perfect — witness the fact that it couldn’t get umpires to Springfield, Ill., on time Thursday for a rescheduled game against the Rex, among other issues it has.

But playing the “Rex interest versus ISU interest game” is an apples-and-oranges thing, even if the sport is the same.

More than anything else, ISU and NCAA baseball as a whole suffers from its lack of timing. Fans are predisposed to summer baseball. No one in late February or early March is ready to trek to the ballpark when its barely above freezing and college basketball is at its zenith.

Fans also want to be entertained, and in a “minor” league environment, that means all manner of on-field and off-field zaniness that collegiate programs can’t or won’t embrace.

College baseball is far more conservative in its willingness to entertain, which is odd, because many NCAA football and basketball venues provide a rollicking experience.

To wit, a few years ago, ISU banned walk-up music for its players when they batted (the music has since been reinstated). The reason expressed to me at the time was that baseball was good enough to sell itself and didn’t need gimmicks.

I’d love if that were true, because I’m an old school, old fogey who enjoys sports on its own terms, but this isn’t 1920 and those types of attitudes aren’t helpful in growing interest and attendance.

It is true that ISU’s athletic department can’t summon the marketing resources the Foundation can to create a Bill Veeck-like atmosphere at Sycamore games. (Now is as good a time as any to point out that the ISU athletic department and ISU Foundation are separate entities that collaborate, but that are run independently of one another.)

Unfortunately, when you have the disadvantage of timing that ISU baseball has, that’s exactly what has to be done to bring new fans in, especially students, who like it the weirder the better.

Finally, there’s beer. We’ll never know what Rex attendance would be like if they didn’t have beer and alcohol sales, and my guess is, the Rex never want to know. It’s unlikely ISU will ever enjoy the same benefit of alcohol sales that the Rex do, which is a shame, but it’s a choice of ISU’s own making, as it doesn’t allow alcohol sales to the general public at its events.

None of the challenges ISU baseball faces are necessarily its own fault. The disadvantage of season, the lesser marketing resources and the inability to sell beer is not new. These challenges would exist whether the Rex were here or not.

I just think it’s unfair to channel the reality of those problems into resentment of the Rex. It’s not the Foundation’s fault that they found a way to fill a summer void that Hauteans had missed since the late 1950s.

People love to chill out and watch baseball in the summer. And who can fault them for that? Based on the Rex attendance, no one in Terre Haute seems to feel too bad about it.

Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or

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Terre Haute Rex
  • Degano2.jpg Bullpen mates: Three relievers coming on strong down stretch for Rex

    The Terre Haute Rex pitching staff ranks fifth among the 12 teams in the Prospect League in earned-run average this season and first in the league with only four home runs allowed all summer. But the Rex pitchers might be the best in the league the past two weeks as the team has had two shutouts and two games with one run allowed in the past week.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Metro: Rex maintain pace in West race

    The Terre Haute Rex maintained pace in the tight Prospect League West Division race with a 2-1 victory over the Springfield Sliders at Robin Roberts Stadium.

    July 29, 2014

  • Rex pull even with Gems in West Division

    Rex beat Quincy 2-1.

    July 24, 2014

  • Prospect League: Rex crush Cavemen

    One day after an errror-filled 13-inning loss to Springfield at home, the Terre Haute Rex cleaned up their act on the road. There were no errors, and for the Hannibal Cavemen, no runs either. Terre Haute's six-run fourth inning broke the game open as the Rex won 10-0 late Tuesday.

    July 23, 2014

  • Rex recover with 10-0 win over Hannibal

    Rex beat Hannibal 10-0 on Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Newcomer pitches Rex to win at Danville

    Clint Chestnut made his first start as a member of the Terre Haute Rex a good one Saturday evening, allowing just three hits in 5 2/3 innings as the Rex won 2-1 at Danville.

    July 19, 2014

  • SPT071814 rex jacknewitz.jpg Lockdown: Rex’s Jacknewitz stifles Cavemen before record home crowd

    Greg Jacknewitz had his best start of the summer, taking a shutout into the eighth inning to earn a big ovation from the biggest crowd in the five years of the Terre Haute Rex franchise.

    July 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPT071714 rex moralez.jpg Rex beat Chillicothe 3-1

    The Terre Haute defense backed Andrew Moralez with four double plays in his initial trip to the mound for the Rex on Thursday at Bob Warn Field as a season-high 1,184 fans watched a three-game losing streak come to a close.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Gems take two from Rex, drop Terre Haute to second place

    The Terre Haute Rex managed just one run in 16 innings Tuesday at Quincy, dropping both games of a doubleheader to the Gems, who took over first place in the West Division with the wins.

    July 16, 2014

  • SPT 071214 RYAN SABO.jpg 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.

    July 13, 2014 3 Photos

  • Metro sports: Rosselli, Biechler capture Prospect League honors

    The Terre Haute Rex swept the Prospect League Player of the Week honors this week.

    July 11, 2014

  • 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.

    July 11, 2014

  • MET070814 allstar rosselli.jpg 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.

    July 8, 2014 4 Photos

  • 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.

    July 8, 2014

  • SPT 070514 JEFF ZAHN REX.jpg 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.

    July 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • 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.

    July 7, 2014

  • SPT 070514 TONY ROSSELLI.jpg 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.

    July 5, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPT 070514 REX RUN.jpg 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.

    July 5, 2014 2 Photos

  • 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.

    July 4, 2014

  • 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.

    July 2, 2014

  • 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.

    July 1, 2014

  • 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.

    July 1, 2014

  • 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.

    June 30, 2014

  • SPT062714rex caton.jpg 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.

    June 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • 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.

    June 26, 2014

  • 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.

    June 26, 2014

  • 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.

    June 25, 2014

  • SPT 062314 MATT CHAVARRIA2.jpg 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.

    June 23, 2014 4 Photos

  • 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.

    June 21, 2014

  • 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.

    June 20, 2014

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    March 12, 2010