Blagojevich – “Paid to play”?

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.  Image from the Joliet Jackhammers website.

Press release from the Joliet Jackhammers:

JackHammers Offer 2009 Contract to Rod Blagojevich

JOLIET, IL- The Joliet JackHammers have offered former Illinois Governor and huge baseball fan Rod Blagojevich a contract for their upcoming 2009 season. Blagojevich can sign for the JackHammers and be one of the team’s “rookies” on their roster. He will receive a monthly salary in addition to a free host family. The JackHammers home opener is Friday May 15th at 7:05pm against the Schaumburg Flyers at Silver Cross Field.

“We figured with his vast knowledge and love for the game he would be a great addition to the team,” said JackHammers Executive Vice President/General Manager, Kelly Sufka. “Wally Backman, manager and former major league player, will do what he can to get him as many at-bats as possible, but he may have to work hard in spring training to find himself a regular spot in the line-up.”

The JackHammers are making the governor the regular rookie offer with a few extras. In addition to receiving his Northern League salary and a free host family, the JackHammers will offer incentives in his contract unlike any ever offered a rookie player! First, the team would like to have a Blagojevich bobble-hair night, where 1,000 bobble-hairs (the hair instead of the head will bob)
will be given away and the Governor will throw out a first pitch. The team also plans on having special “golden” seats available for purchase as well as a few other fun events to fill out the evening. Never in JackHammers history has a rookie player been offered a promotional item in their likeness.

Travel arrangements will be made exceptionally comfortable for Blagojevich. He’ll have his own seat on the luxurious coach bus during the JackHammers road trips. As is the case usually for only team veterans, Blagojevich will get his own room on the JackHammers overnight trips to Kansas City, KS; Fargo, ND; and Winnipeg, MB.  This afternoon the JackHammers faxed a contract to Blagojevich’s PR firm in Florida. Blagojevich and his representatives have not responded to the JackHammers.

Financial terms of the contract will not be disclosed.

The JackHammers play a 96-game schedule as part of the Northern League of Professional Baseball from mid-May until late August.

The JackHammers opponents are located in Schaumburg, IL; Gary, IN; Fargo, ND; Kansas City, KS; and Winnipeg, MB.

The City of Zion announces that it is bringing minor league baseball to a new stadium in Lake County, IL in the summer of 2010 to be part of the Northern League. Academy Award winner Kevin Costner is part of a baseball team ownership group that has been working with the City and one of the largest real estate developers in the world to bring a new stadium only minutes northeast of Gurnee’s Six Flags Great America and the Gurnee Mills Mall.

The JackHammers currently have full season seats, mini-plan packages, individual tickets and group outings available for the 2009 season. To purchase tickets, or for more information, give the JackHammers Ticket Department a call at (815) 726-BALL (2255), visit the JackHammers website or stop by the Silver Cross Field Box Office during normal business hours.

According to CBS News:

[…] Blagojevich’s publicist said he wasn’t sure how serious the team’s offer was, but that the ex-Illinois governor would be interested. “The governor is a huge baseball fan, and playing in the minor leagues is something he has wanted to do as a kid and would do for nothing,” Glenn Selig told the Chicago Tribune.

[…] While some fans have blanched at the prospect of seeing Blagojevich on the team, JackHammers executive vice president Kelly Sufka said he would have to earn his spot on the squad. 

“He would have to work hard in spring training to find himself a regular spot in the lineup,” she told the Tribune. “Most fans see the humor in it, but not all of them.” 

This week, Blagojevich lashed out at the lawmakers who impeached him from office. “I feel like I can serve the people in a good way now because I have all kinds of insights that virtually no one has,” Blagojevich said on a Chicago radio show. “And I can give anecdotes and all kinds of stuff. I don’t know if it’s dirt or not. It’s just facts.” 

“I’ve got my crayons ready, I’m ready to write it. I’d like to tell those stories,” Blagojevich said during a Wednesday interview on WLS Radio’s “The Don and Roma Morning Show.”



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