Please visit the Forum to share your thoughts on the Cubs Convention, who you got to meet, what presentations you attended, what you got autographed and what players and features you would like to see at the Cubs Convention.
If you have any questions, just ask!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rooms for Convention Weekend Sold Out

Rally Monkey selfie!
Perhaps as the result of the flurry of front office activity in the last few days landing Jon Lester with a whopper of a contract and getting Miguel Montero in a trade with Arizona, rooms for the 2015 Cubs Convention are reportedly sold out.

There are lots of reasons to be excited about the 2015 Cubs and we hope to see you at the upcoming Convention.  Weekend passes ARE still available as of today.



Friday, November 7, 2014

Thanks to Paul Konerko's Recent Retirement and 10 Years of Using the Same McDonald's Cup, I Am Now $5 Richer

Greg Maddux and part of Sammy Sosa's leg
The year is 2004 and I, like many other Cubs fans, was still in somewhat of a daze as to how close the Cubs had come to a 2003 World Series berth.

Back in 2004, people in Chicago still cared about the crosstown games between the Cubs and White Sox. So much so that McDonald's commemorated the event with a souvenir cup featuring each team's biggest stars.

The Cubs side included Greg Maddux, Sammy Sosa and Corey Patterson (true!). The White Sox side featured Frank Thomas, Magglio Ordonez and, finally, Paul Konerko.

Fast forward to 2006. The White Sox were World Series champions and my buddy at work asked why I had a White Sox cup on my desk. I spun it around and told him that it was actually a "Crosstown Classic" cup and that I preferred to look at the Cubs side.

What Remains of the Big Hurt
Then he asked me how long I had the cup, which was already starting to show some wear. I quickly found the copyright date and informed him the cup was from 2004. He asked how long I intended to use it. I told him I had never really thought about it.

He then dared me to use the cup until all six ball players pictured on the cup retired. I told him that was easy and that we should make it interesting. "How about $5 interesting," he replied. I agreed.

So every day at work - with 3 subsequent employers and several office moves - my McDonald's Crosstown Classic cup came with me. It has been washed 100s of times and has allowed me to drink 1000s of gallons of cool, refreshing water. And now, it has made me $5 richer.

As a Cubs fan, Paul Konerko was always my favorite Sox player. But thanks a lot for playing so freaking long and making me have to use the same cup for 10 years.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Three Records Held by the Chicago Cubs that Just Might Stand Forever

3.
The Team with Pitchers Having the Most Different Number of Fingers on Their Pitching Hands

Throughout history, the overwhelming majority of Chicago Cubs pitchers - from David Aardsma to Bob Zick - have had five fingers on their pitching hands.  There are two hurlers, however, that did not - Mordecai Brown and Antonio Alfonseca.  

Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown was born in rural Indiana.  As a child, he had a farm machinery accident in which the index finger on his right hand was severed, leaving him with just three functioning fingers and a thumb.  

Brown's right hand

Brown took full advantage of the disfigurement, however, finding that his grip caused the baseball to exhibit unusual movement.  He went on to put together a Hall of Fame career, posting 239 wins against 130 losses, a lifetime ERA of 2.06 and having led the Cubs to World Series championships in 1907 and 1908.  

His 1909 campaign was also noteworthy as he lead the National League in both victories (27) and saves (7).  His ERA was 1.31 and he turned in a sparkling WHIP of .873.  Even with those numbers, however, he got no Cy Young award votes - mainly because Young was still active with Cleveland and the award had not been invented yet.  

Antonio Alfonseca, on the other hand, was born with six fingers on each of his hands, earning him the nickname "Octopus."

Alfonseca's right hand
Alfonseca's best years were with the Florida Marlins and he got his Major League career off to a great start in 1997, winning the World Series as a rookie.  He appeared in three World Series games against the Indians, hurling 6 innings without giving up any runs.

In 2000, he led the National League with 45 saves as a member of the Marlins and was awarded the Rolaids Relief Man Award.  In 2003, he appeared in 4 games during the Cubs playoff run and was solid, not allowing any runs.

The Cubs record was briefly in jeopardy, however, in 2009 and 2010 when six-fingered Oneli Perez was pitching for the rival St. Louis Cardinals AAA affiliate in Memphis.  He was never called up to the Major League team and now appears to be out of baseball after playing in Japan and Mexico.  If he had appeared for the Cardinals, they would have tied the Cubs for this record because Mordecai Brown had also pitched for St. Louis as a rookie in 1903.    

2.
The Team with the Most Players Who are Named After Days of the Week

In the history of the Major Leagues there have been only four men whose last name is also a day of the week.  The Cubs have featured two of those players - Billy Sunday and Rick Monday.

Billy Sunday was an outfielder for the Chicago National League team which was then called the White Stockings.  He played for the Chicago from 1883 through 1887, enjoying his best season in 1887 when he hit .291, to go along with 3 home runs and 34 stolen bases in 50 games.  He played a few more seasons for other teams and retired from baseball after the 1890 season.

Old Judge tobacco card
Sunday, appropriately named, was to become much more famous for another reason, however.  Near the end of his baseball career and perhaps because of it, Sunday converted to evangelical Christianity and eventually became a powerful and influential evangelist in the early 1900s.  In fact, it was widely believed that he was a driving force behind the 1920 enactment of the 18th Amendment, more commonly known as Prohibition.

Rick Monday, also an outfielder, played for the Cubs from 1972 through 1976, turning in his most productive season in 1976 when he hit .272/.346/.507, smacked 32 home runs and drove in 107 runs. Monday also has the distinction of being the first player ever selected in the Rule 4 amateur draft having been first overall pick of the Kansas City Athletics in 1965.

1973 Topps Rick Monday
Monday is probably best remembered for a non-baseball related event, however.  The Cubs were visiting the Dodgers for a game on April 25, 1976 when protesters entered the field and attempted to light an American flag on fire in the middle of the outfield.  Monday, who had served in the Marine reserves, took exception and snatched the flag away before the damage could be done.  The event was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and made Monday a national hero.

On August 27, 2013, the Dodgers commemorated the event with a bobblehead, marking the first time the team had ever distributed a bobblehead featuring a player in another team's uniform.


The only team that may be able to threaten the Cubs record in this case may be the Twins.  Long before the Washington Senators moved the franchise to Minnesota in 1961, Skipper Friday played a lone season for the Senators in 1923.  The only other player to qualify was Art Sunday, who played for the 1890 Brooklyn Ward's Wonders in the ill-fated Players League (and whose name at birth was actually August Wacher).

As an aside, the Cubs, Reds and White Sox are also tied with the Indians for most players named after Christian holidays - Steve Christmas appeared in 24 games over three separate seasons for these club in the mid-1980s while Luke Easter put together some monster years for the Indians in the early 1950s. 

1.
The Longest Time Between the Initial Purchase of Stadium Lights and the Actual Installation of Stadium Lights

Cubs owner Phillip Wrigley was set to have lights installed at Wrigley Field for the 1942 season and had, reluctantly, plunked down the money to buy the necessarily equipment and materials.  After the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, however, Wrigley decided instead to donate the valuable materials to be used in the war effort.

Wrigley Field, pre-lights
Although the remaining teams in the league had all installed lights by 1948, the Cubs held out and the Wrigley family never made any further attempts to install lights for night baseball at Wrigley Field.

In fact, the Cubs had to defend a lawsuit in the late 1960s in which a frustrated minority owner of the ball club sued Phillip Wrigley and the directors for negligence and mismanagement.  The plaintiff, William Shlensky, sought damages and an order compelling the team to install lights at Wrigley Field for the scheduling of night baseball games.  Shlensky alleged that Phillip Wrigley had refused to install lights, not because of interest in the welfare of the corporation, but because of his personal opinions that baseball is a "daytime sport" and that night baseball would have a deteriorating effect on the surrounding neighborhood.

The court found that the failure to install lights, just because all the other teams had done so, did not constitute negligence and the case was dismissed.  The appellate court agreed and affirmed the ruling of the trial court.

After the Cubs were sold to the Tribune Company in 1981, however, the absence of lights became an issue once again.  Ironically, the Cubs now had to sue in order to get approval to have the lights installed.  Lawmakers in the City of Chicago and State of Illinois had recently passed legislation that prevented the Cubs from adding lights to Wrigley Field, mainly because of a desire to protect the surrounding neighborhood from disruptive and unruly behavior night baseball would bring.

The Illinois Supreme Court ultimately found that these laws, a 1982 amendment to the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and a Chicago city ordinance regarding "nighttime-noise-emissions," were unconsitutional.  Specifically, the measures violated due process because the laws, in operation, applied only to Wrigley Field.  The 1985 decision finally cleared the way for the Cubs to install lights at the Friendly Confines.

Wrigley Field, June 2013
Although the first night game was supposed be held on August 8, 1988, the game was postponed due to rain and the first first official night game was played at Wrigley Field on August 9, 1988 with the Cubs beating the Mets 6-4.

It seems rather unlikely that any other team will take 46 years between the initial purchase of stadium lights and the actual installation and use!  Besides, who would build a stadium today without lights anyway?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekend Passes for the 2015 Cubs Convention On Sale


Weekend passes for convention goers, not planning to stay at the Sheraton for the weekend, go on sale September 16th at 10 a.m. CDT.

Each pass is $65 plus fees and is good for admission all three days - January 16th through the 18th.

Passes will be available at www.cubs.com/convention or by phone at 1-800-THE-CUBS.

Otherwise, rooms are still available.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

KISS and the Cubs


Ever since I was Gene Simmons for Halloween in kindergarten, I have wanted to see KISS live.  I finally got my chance on August 16, 2014 when they played a show at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Illinois.


I had a blast at the show singing along with Deuce, Lick it Up, Love Gun and a bunch of other classics before ending the evening with Rock 'n Roll All Nite.



Whether you like KISS or revile them, you have to admit that they have been masterful, just like Major League Baseball, in pushing merchandising to new heights.  However, you are probably wondering what this has to do with the Cubs.


Well, on August 13th, the Cubs joined forces with KISS and Def Leppard for a 1980s Rock Night.  In addition to the Cubs-colored Zubaz pants given away, the Cubs also had special prizes for anyone who came to Wrigley Field rocking KISS makeup or Def Leppard apparrel.  What I didn't know was that the Cubs and KISS joined forces to produce an awesome crossover t-shirt.

This is my next shirt.

This guy got the shirt for free by wearing a KISS shirt to the Wednesday night Cubs game.  When it comes to the Cubs, I want the best.  Here's to hoping we get the best soon!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2015 Cubs Convention Room Reservations Live


The 2015 Cubs Convention is set for January 16-18, 2015 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers located at 301 East North Water Street in Chicago.  

You can now book your room reservations for the 2015 Cubs Convention here or by calling 1-800-325-3535.

See you there!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why I Don’t Really Care that Wrigley Field is 100 Years Old in 2014


The Cubs’ home opener is an annual tradition of mine.  I attended my first in 1978 as a kindergartner, went again in 1981 and starting in 1993, have been to every one since.  Regardless of the number of times I have been able to watch my beloved Cubbies at the Friendly Confines over the years, however, there is still a certain awe I feel as I ascend the steps and the field unfolds in front of me. 

As I approached the corner of Clark and Addison this year, a gigantic banner announced that 2014 is going to be “The Party of the Century.”  Not because the Cubs are projected to contend this year, but because Wrigley Field is 100 years old.  Yay? 

Beginning at the 2014 Cubs Convention, it was clear that the organization was going to be making a huge deal about Wrigley Field’s 100th year as they unveiled a slick branding campaign and a slate of throwback uniforms, promotions and food choices (very loosely) associated with the various decades.  Really, who doesn’t immediately think of deep-fried mini corn dogs when asked about life in the 1940s? 

The first of 10 bobblehead giveaways.  
Frankly, however, I really don’t care and here is why:

Wrigley Field was not even originally built for the Cubs and they have only played there for 98 seasons. 

The ballpark was built by Charles Weeghman as the home ballpark for his Chicago team in the outlaw Federal League.  Completed just prior to opening day in 1914, Weeghman Park saw its first action on Thursday, April 23, 1914, as the Chicago squad beat the Kansas City Packers 9-1 in front of 21,000 people.  The league, however, ultimately failed in their attempts to establish themselves as a third major league. 

A settlement agreement in late 1915 with the National and American Leagues saw the dissolution of the Federal League, payment to the Federal League team owners and the transfer of the Cubs to Weeghman, who immediately moved the Cubs to his modern Northside ballpark to begin the 1916 season.
          
The giveaway for April 20, 2014 was this toy train for the 1910s weekend.
My son played with this for about five minutes before it broke.
I refuse to acknowledge the apparent metaphor.
The Cubs have never won a championship during their tenure at Wrigley Field 

Essentially, the “Party of the Century” is just a gigantic tribute to the team’s futility and a manifest reminder that 100 years have now passed without a World’s Championship.  In fact, at the time of the last World Series victory in 1908, the Cubs played at the West Side Grounds near where the Eisenhower expressway now runs.

If you are less than 68 years old, you have not even been alive for a World Series game played at Wrigley Field.  In perhaps an unintended acknowledgement as to the paucity of significant events that have taken place at Wrigley Field, the Cubs’ own website places Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot” at the top of the amazingly short list!

Stickers given to the kids.
The woeful state of the current Major League team

The Cubs’ marketing department has certainly seized on the 100th anniversary thing with gusto.  The season-long celebration regarding the age of the building that the team calls home is about the only thing the Cubs are going to have to celebrate this year and I could not feel any more apathetic.  Who really cares that Wrigley Field is 100 years old?  I sure don’t and frankly, it would be much nicer to have something to cheer about on the field this year. 

While Cubs ownership and management are preaching continued patience as we wait for the recent draft classes to mature and we hold our collective breath for Javier Baez’s arrival, I am having trouble reconciling a marketing push and merchandising money grab surrounding the 100th year of Wrigley Field as the “Party of the Century.”
 
Mini-helmet ice cream bowls sporting 100th Anniversary logo.
It is too bad that the Cubs didn't think to print up promotional materials on edible paper so that they could literally cram the 100th Anniversary down our throats.  Sorry Cubs, but you oversold this one. 

As fans, we all know what the “Party of the Century” will actually be.  Let’s just hope it happens this century.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Favorite Cubs Convention Regulars

The 2014 Cubs Convention was the 20th I've attended and over the years, I have met a bunch of cool people and, along with my sister, friend and his dad, have compiled a list of the memorable folks we see every year.  The first person we usually see is the the Assassin.  The Assassin usually wears a 3/4 length sleeved Cubs t-shirt and carries a hard-sided briefcase.  I have never seen inside the brief case but can only assume it has a custom foam insert to hold each of the pieces of one of those guns that has to be put together.  I'm sure he also has a nice selection of silencers.

For years there was a guy that looked like singer Michael McDonald that once had the audacity to wear a White Sox jacket to the Convention.  We never saw him break into "Sweet Freedom" but wished he had.  Michael McDonald has not been seen at the convention for some time so luckily Edgar Winter has shown up to take his place.

Edgar Winter decides whether to get in the Tim Stoddard autograph line.
The list of regulars also includes, among others, the Blind Mole, Bathrobe Guy, Reverse Helmet Hair Lady, Terre Haute, Rat Face Guy, the Chipmunk, Ethan the Go Getter and the guy that looks like my cousin Jimmy.

My hands down favorite, however, will always be Leather Pants. 

Note the sweet leather pants.
This guy is the epitome of awesome.  First and foremost, he always wears leather pants.  Second, he looks like Gargamel.  Third, he always wears the souvenir Convention sweatshirt the whole weekend.  Fourth, he scurries from place to place.  Finally, he is needlessly aggressive getting autographs and I have personally seen him told to back off by Jim Frey, Mickey Morandini and Jim Hendry.

Who are your favorites?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 Autograph Report


Due to the increasingly lighter crowds, we were able to meet plenty of current players, minor leaguers and Cubs alumni over the weekend.  On the program above are the signatures of Wesley Wright, Eric Hinske, Les Lancaster, Brooks Raley, Ron Coomer, Steve Trout, Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch, Arodys Vizcaino, Jim Bullinger, Tim Stoddard, Chris Rusin and Pedro Strop.

Friday Night Autograph Hunt Game

For the autograph hunt game, we lined up at Stage E on the lower level before the Opening Ceremonies ended.  After having drawn Steve Trout first for the past two years, we were pleased when super prospect Albert Almora took the stage.  He said he is 100% healthy and looking forward to getting the 2014 season started.  He signed this card for me and threw horns but the camera took too long to flash and all I got was the photo below.  At least he looks happy.



Javier Baez and Jorge Soler were at the other stages but by the time we met Almora, the lines looked too long to be promising.  

We found Arodys Vizcaino in the hallway and he signed my program.  Tim Stoddard was also in the hallway and signed my program and this card, one he had never seen before:


Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley were signing at the Comcast booth; however, no one knew who they were. Perhaps embarrassingly for them, I had to ask who they were when I got to the front of the line.  Raley was very personable and told me that he used to collect Starting Lineup figures when he was a kid.  

Comcast's Kelly Crull was signing autographs too and posed for this photo:


We then headed up to the ballroom level and found Kyle Hendricks and Eric Jokisch signing on the concourse.  Jokisch quickly found Tim Stoddard's autograph on the program and commended Stoddard as his coach at Northwestern.  Both signed my program.

Hendricks (L) and Jokisch (R)
We then found Les Lancaster and Jim Bullinger at a table in the kids play area.  Lancaster had little to say but Bullinger was glad to be back at the Convention for the first time since his playing days ended.



I was just about to get in line for Bill Madlock and Blake Parker; however, the security guard cut the line off and I just missed out.  

Overall, it was a great autograph hunt evening.

We retired to the lobby bar for a few drinks and to watch the rest of the Hawks game.  (A big win over the Ducks.)  Bobby Dernier came and sat next to us for a while.  He was very personable and signed this photo for me:


Saturday

We got to meet Ron Coomer, former Cub and the new radio color man for the team.  He was super friendly and took the time to shake everyone's hand.  I learned he is a drinking man and although he is an Irish lad, he prefers a light beer to a Guinness.


Next, we met James Russell.


We headed downstairs and got in line for Mike Remlinger who can't believe that it has already been over 10 years since the magical, yet ultimately disappointing, 2003 season.



We were also able to meet new bullpen addition Wesley Wright, who signed the program and Justin Grimm, who bears an uncanny resemblance to playoff-bearded Brent Seabrook but, interestingly, had never heard of him.  Hmm.


Justin Grimm or Brent Seabrook?

We found Blake Parker just walking around:


 I sneezed just as I met Welington Castillo so he specially inscribed the photo for me.


Pretty good Saturday...

Sunday

We were able to wrap up the weekend with a few more autographs on Sunday, starting with Milt Pappas.  I asked Milt what he did wrong to draw the early slot on Sunday morning and he did not say anything or even look at me.


Next was Pedro Strop, who did not enjoy the cold weather compared to his home in the Dominican Republic.


We then met Dwight Smith, whose dream duet would be with Beyonce. 



Fergie Jenkins has a booth at the Convention and will sign autographs in exchange for a $20 donation to his charity.  There was no one waiting and I figured it would be a great opportunity to get a card signed for a good cause.  Born and raised in Canada, Jenkins was very personable but, shockingly, was not a Rush fan, although he did like Adam Levine from "Maroon."  When I said, "Oh, Maroon 5?" he replied, "Yeah, Maroon."  


Rollie Fingers and Gaylord Perry in the upper left hand corner

We met new first base coach Eric Hinske at the batting cages.  He does not miss playing yet and is looking forward to his transition to coaching this season.  "Playing baseball is hard work." - Eric Hinske

And no Cubs Convention would be complete without seeing Steve Trout and Tim Stoddard again. 

Trout (L) and Stoddard (R)


Until next year...