My girls basketball team had just completed a stretch where they played six games in thirteen days, which is a busy little stretch, so I gave them the evening off since we don't play our next game until the weekend.
Meanwhile, I jetted over to Exposition Gardens in Peoria, pounded a couple of hot dogs, and then did my best to gather the autographs of the Cubs contingent that made the trip down from Chicago.
Usually, we are blessed with the attendance of an announcer, someone from the front office, a coach or two, and a handful of current players and/or minor leaguers. Only four made the trip this winter, which was a little disappointing, but I can't argue. Any baseball in the middle of January is good baseball!
Here's the snapshots that I was able to capture and my autographs.
James Rowson: Hitting Coach. He's only a year older than me and he's living the dream. J-Ro was a heckuva nice guy and fun to chat with.
Rowson's autograph on the feature of him in the October edition of the VineLine.
Keith Moreland, former player and radio announcer, with my sister:
I'm really happy I had an opportunity to meet Keith in person and thank him for the job he does. I don't have cable or dish, so I listen to Pat and Keith on the radio pretty frequently. Moreland on an '85 Topps card:
Me with Randy Bush, the assistant general manager. For the record, I'm holding his 1989 Topps card, freshly signed! That card was my sister's.
Ernie Banks was the main draw. He signed, smiled, laughed, and signed some more. Not everyone walked away with an autograph, but Ernie sat with a pen in his hand for over 90 minutes. I tip my cap to you, Mr. Banks. My sister shook his hand, I snapped a couple of photos of Mr. Cub, and . . .
. . . my friend, Vince, was able to get his daughter's Cubs A-to-Z book signed. Ernie is 81 and his signature is way better than mine.
Overall, the caravan was a little more disorganized than in the past. Part of that is because everyone wanted Ernie's autograph, and I think another contributing factor is the Peoria Chiefs didn't play a role in the festivities this year. They are usually a large presence in the room, but now that they are a Cardinal affiliate they simply were content to have two people trying to sell season ticket packages at a table. I guess I can't blame them, but I hate to see MY Cubs take a back seat to those Redbirds. Hmph.
Again, it was good to hang with friends, meet some Cubs, and talk baseball during the cold winter months! Boy, I can't wait for spring!