Last year, the Cubs eliminated the “Autograph Hunt Game” in which players would be dispatched to various secret locations all over the hotel after the Opening Ceremony to sign autographs for the fans. In its current incarnation as “Surprise Signings,” there were six minor leaguers sent to the dedicated autograph stages. This year’s group included Jeimer Candelario, Eric Jokisch and Dan Vogelbach, among others. These were the only players signing anywhere on Friday night.
We got into the line for Stage F and met Dan Vogelbach. Vogelbach said his nickname is “Vogs,” which I told him was pretty boring. I asked what he though about “Devo” (as in “D. Vo”) and he said he liked it. He even signed my photo with “Whip It” inscribed. Devo seems like a nice kid and said he is slated to start the season at the AA Tennessee Smokies.
My younger son joined us Saturday morning and after perusing the vendor’s wares anew with him, we grabbed a spot in the session “Life Off the Field” in which Neil Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard, Miguel Montero and Addison Russell spoke about their lives away from the game. I asked the players what kind of car they currently drive and what their dream car would be. Ramirez currently drives a Hyundai Sonata and said he would like a truck. Cahill drives a truck. Clayton Richard got a good laugh when he indicated that he would like a truck but admitted that he actually has to drive his wife’s Honda minivan to the ballpark. Miguel Montero has his dream cars and said he loves to drive his Ferrari and Lamborghini. Addison Russell just wants a Rolls Royce Ghost. In answer to a later question about his having given up number 22 for Jason Heyward, it was suggested the Ghost, which starts north of $325,000, might make a suitable trade for the number.
We next shuffled downstairs go he could meet Justin Grimm and Miguel Montero in the Kids Only line. The Jeimer Candelario line was very short so we hopped in. I asked Candelario what his dream car would be and he must have misunderstood me. He looked up and told me, puzzled, “I don’t have a green car.” He was nice enough to sign my program anyway.
My first hopeful autograph for the day was David Ross. He was very personable and said he is very fortunate to still be healthy enough to be playing at his age. His dream car is the one he drives – a Ford Raptor.
My older son was able to join the fray on Sunday and we got promptly in the line for C.J. Edwards. I found him to be just about the shyest person I ever met. He does not have a dream car. He signed the program for me.
Broadcaster Jim Deshaies also had a Mercedes as a player but said that he and his wife just got a Ford F-150 that they tow behind their RV.
2016 Cubs Convention Overview
- I am truly excited for 2016 Cubs baseball.
- I had a great time, as always, hanging out with my kids, sister and all the random folks I spoke with over the weekend. Here’s looking at you – Paul the Mountain Man from Colorado, Lisa and kids from Yorkville enjoying their first Convention, Matt and Rachel from St. Louis (but originally from Nebraska), the Assassin and Leatherpants.
- It was nice to have all of the autograph stages in one area.
- Dan Vogelbach is now “Devo.”
- Again, the double queue and ticket distribution system for the autograph stages was well run.
- The seminars and presentations were PACKED. In fact, I was almost not let back in after leaving to use the restroom and to grab a cookie for my son.
- The Surprise Signing this year was not terribly fun. I am not complaining in that we were able to meet Dan “Devo” Vogelbach but the “Autograph Hunt Game” was one of the highlights of the weekend. Of all the people I talked to in line all weekend – not one preferred the new format.
- As usual, my kids had a blast meeting the players and collecting autographs but the Sunday lineup for the Kids Only featured only Scott Eyre and Jim Deshaies. No offense to either but it would be nice if the Cubs would schedule more current players or recently retired players, like Kerry Wood, in the Kids Only line in the future.
- I expect prices at the hotel to be expensive however, they were charging $5 for a can of pop and the grab and go prices were outrageous. Make alternate plans for meals, if possible and bring your own drinks or find the water coolers spread throughout the convention!
- I can't wait until next year. Go Cubs in 2016!