Thomas S. Ricketts
- School University of Chicago
Ricketts grew up in Omaha, NE, the son of the founder of Ameritrade Corporation, a brokerage firm. He obtained an undergraduate degree and an MBA from the University of Chicago, and as he explains, spent a lot of time in the Wrigley Field bleachers while in college cheering on the Cubs, particularly when they conquered a surprise NL East title in 1989. He once wrote an essay in college describing his future dream job as owner of the Cubs.
After graduation, Ricketts found success in the financial sector, founding the securities and investment banking company Incapital LLC, and on the Chicago Exchange, before he went on to occupy a senior executive position in his father's company, which had by then become the largest on-line brokerage firm in the United States. In 2008, when the Chicago Cubs were put on sale by the Chicago Tribune, he put together a bid in trust with his siblings Peter, Tom, Laura and Todd. The sale was caused by the sale of the Tribune Corporation to Peter Zell, who saw the Cubs as an asset to be cashed in, in order to raise funds to stave the newspaper from bankruptcy. The Ricketts' $845 million bid was accepted in January 2009, but it took until October 31, 2009 for Major League Baseball to ratify the change of ownership, due to the complexity of the deal, which also included Wrigley Field and the cable television network "Comcast Sportsnet Chicago". The Tribune retained a 5% ownership stake as part of the deal.
One of Ricketts' first moves as Cubs owner was to order $10 million in renovations to Wrigley Field, completed in time for the team's 2010 home opener. After the 2011 season, he shook up the Cubs' front office, hiring Theo Epstein away from the Boston Red Sox to be the new team President, and then prying GM Jed Hoyer from the San Diego Padres, paying compensation to both teams as the two men were under contract with their employers for another year.
Tom's youngest brother, Todd, participated in the CBS reality television show Undercover Boss in a program aired on November 7, 2010. Using the alias "Mark Dawson", he was hired as a member of the Wrigley Field ground crew and had to sell hot dogs, clean up bathrooms, set up the tarpaulin and operate the park's manual scoreboard as part of his stint as an employee.
On April 15, 2013, Ricketts and the city of Chicago announced agreement on an ambitions plan for $500 million worth of renovations to Wrigley Field in time for its 100th anniversary, which would include the construction of an electronic video board in left field. As part of the agreement with the city, the Cubs received the right to increase the number of night games they play from 30 to 40. However, Ricketts attempted to obtain an agreement from the owners of rooftop terraces across the street from Wrigley before moving ahead with the renovations, as the erection of a more modern scoreboard and video screen would cut down on their business. Because the two sides were not able to agree, he decided to press ahead with a submission to the city of Chicago's Landmarks Commission in May of 2014. The rooftop owners replied by filing a lawsuit against the Cubs and the city the following August.
In February 2019, the family suffered serious adverse publicity when messages posted by patriarch Joe Ricketts on social media were leaked to the press. Ricketts senior was already known as an arch-conservative and strong supporter of President Donald Trump. However, the messages also painted him as an unabashed racist pushing memes questioning President Barack Obama's birth and blaming blacks and Muslims for all of society's ills. Tom Ricketts quickly condemned the messages, stating that his father's e-mails were "racially insensitive" and that "the language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society." He added that his father had no involvement whatsoever in the running of the team.
- David Kaplan: The Plan: Epstein, Maddon, and the Audacious Blueprint for a Cubs Dynasty, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2017. ISBN 9781629373263
- Bob Nightengale: "For Tom Ricketts and the Cubs, 'now is the time'", USA Today Sports, March 30, 2015.