Monday, January 18, 2016

CubsCon2016 #FireEmoji

Oh. My. Goodness.  I had never been to a Cubs Convention before and it just about blew my socks off.  It's a long post, folks, but it it's chocked full pictures!  Totally worth it!
Room Key with a Cubs theme!
My sister and I each took Friday off from work and we checked in to the convention hotel around 2:30 or so. All of the receptionists were dressed in Cubs attire. The lobby was filled with organ music from Gary Pressy, the organist from Wrigley Field. My initial impressions were top notch, and the rest of the weekend did not disappoint.

 We checked into the convention and were given a draw string bag with goodies.
 Inside was the program for the weekend, which we would soon discover to be our weekend's bible.

A description and schedule of presentations was listed inside AND so was the schedule of players who would be signing autographs!

We also found a map, which was helpful the first evening, but we quickly learned our way around the facility.
 Also inside the back pack were various coupons and fliers, much like a race bag for a 5K. More importantly we found our passes that had to be worn around our necks all weekend.

 Also found within the draw string bag was a calendar, which will be seen on the blog, and the latest edition of the Vine Line.  It's been quite some time since I had a subscription to the Cubs' magazine and I may have to look into it once again.

We made our way to Vendor Alley the first afternoon and got our pictures taken with Arrieta, Maddon, and Schwarber Fatheads. It was a nice little photobooth and it was free!
 We both signed up to win an all expenses paid trip to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, and in doing so we were given free passes!  Nice!
 I found a squishy baseball courtesy of 670 The Score, which my cats like to bat around.

The weekend was sponsored by Budweiser and Pespi to name a few. 
 The Cubs display was made up of over 600 Pepsi cases and the Bud Girls were omnipresent and always passing out beer coozies.
Jane and I hit the minor league affiliate station and marveled at the Joe Maddon display made out of sand. While we were there we signed up for a free trip to Myrtle Beach to watch the Pelicans and were given some Joe Maddon glasses.  Score!
 Naturally, I had to buy all the rest of the minor league team sets I didn't already own. No shipping or tax, which was a pretty decent savings in itself!

 Before leaving the minor league room I got my picture taken as a Squatch!  Nice!

We took in the opening ceremonies, which consisted of Tom Ricketts (the owner) speaking and an introduction of every Cub, past, present, and future who would partake in the weekend. 

Somewhere in there we scored some autographs, but it's a blur, so I'll save those for the end. We rested our feet by sitting down on the ball room floor to watch "Friday Night with Ryan Dempster".
 Image result for friday night with ryan dempster
 I laughed so hard a few times I got side cramps.  But, that may also have been because I had eaten anything in nearly twelve hours.  So...  we bundled up and went for a quick walk to the Billy Goat!
It was a total dive, but great burgers for a good price. I would totally visit the Billy Goat Tavern again.

The next two days were mostly centered around obtaining autographs, having brief interactions with the players, and scoring some amazing deals on Cubs merchandise.  We did take in Cubs Feud, and almost witnessed an upset where the wives/girlfriends nearly ousted the current Cubs.  In the end, the Alumni Cubs won the Feud.

We also played twenty rounds of BINGO, and lost every round.  I guess that's to be expected when the entire ballroom is playing. It would have been sweet to win though, because they gave away the flags that flew above Wrigley Field as the prizes!
A panorama shot in a rectangular ballroom before BINGO started.
 On to the merchandise!  My mom gave my sister and I each some "mad money" to spend, which was really nice of her. My "mad money" furnished me a convention t-shirt and post-season baseball from 2015.
 Speaking of baseballs, we found the Schwardber home run ball that he deposited ON TOP of the right field jumbotron at Wrigley.  No, it was not for sale.
 My sister surprised me with Brandon Hyde's locker name plate from Opening Day. Hyde is the Cubs first base coach, who I have recently grown fond of. I, too, will be a first base coach this spring my high school's team!
On the last day most everything in the team store and the "garage sale" were marked down.
I picked up a spring training game-used hat for ten bucks. Number 77 must have been a minor league player, because I can't find a name and number match on the internet.

My big find was a game-used road jersey of Brandon Hyde's!  Notice the nice patches on the sleeves, the white outline around letters and number, and the number change!  Hyde was #17 in early April, but then gave up his number to some kid named Kris Bryant. 
 Did I mention it was a steal at $25 and it fits me perfectly?  Score!

On to the autographs!  My sister and I weren't lucky enough to win a voucher for an elite autograph, but that didn't stop me from taking a nice candid shot of the new Cubs Ambassador. Welcome back, Ryne Sandberg!
 My sister and I worked all weekend to fill up a home plate I fashioned out of wood.  Below is a nice shot of former twenty game winner Jon Lieber handing the plate back to my sister.
 Here is the finished product:
 Not bad work for a time span of a little less than 48 hours!

On to the cardboard!  While my sister got thirty-three autographs on the home plate I was able to collect twenty autos on cards. I spent some of my time helping her fill up the plate!  Woo-Hoo!

 Minor leaguers Carl Edwards, Dallas Beeler, Erick Jokisch and Jemier Candelario are on the left. 
Cubs alumni John Baker, Jon Lieber, Scott Sanderson and Steve Trout are on the right.

Current Cubs hitting coach, Eric Hinske, and bench coach, Davey Martinez:

Current Cubs Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard, Travis Wood and Neil Ramirez are on the left.
 Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins is joined by Randy Hundley, Bill Madlock, and Lee Smith.  Those are some great names in Cubs history!

My sister, inexplicably, scored a "fast pass" for an autograph at one of the vendors earlier in the weekend.  I could have used it to get to the front of the Jose Cardenal, John Lackey or Ben Zobrist line . . . but . . .
 Yeah, I've got a thing for David Ross, which only became stronger after he appeared on Dempster's show on Friday night. I gave him the custom card of him pitching that Mark, from Battlin' Bucs, made me and Ross seemed genuinely touched. No need for a TTM now!

My favorite of the weekend!  VOGELMONSTER!

Some of the fans mistook Vogelbach for Kyle Schwarber, and most agreed that Vogelbach looks like Schwarber.  Hmph.

WRONG!  The VOGELMONSTER was drafted by the Cubs first, thus Schwarber will forever be known to me as Vogelbach's doppelganger. NOT the other way around. Yes, I may be a little biased.
I was one of Vogelbach's last dozen autographs on the weekend after he had signed a minimum of four hundred during the the three days. He took my card, penned his name, and he was about to pick it off the table to hand the card back to me. But I was in the middle of complimenting him for winning two Player of the Week awards during the 2015 and stating how big a fan I was. He paused, and added "God Bless You" to the card.

HOW COOL IS THAT!?!?!  That was easily my best in person autograph experience of the weekend. Heck, it was my best ever! Every player was really nice and treated me with respect and appreciation, but my VOGELMONSTER experience will be the one I remember twenty years from now.     

Overall, it was a great weekend spent with my sister and the Chicago Cubs!  #GoCubsGo


  1. WOW! Looks like a great time! Mrs. WW and I were talking this weekend, saying we need to get to a convention some time. Reading your post....we need to go next year!

    1. Get in on the ground floor if you can. If the Cubs keep performing like they did in 2015, then they'll keep selling the convention out. This year once it was sold out the Cubs secured another couple blocks of hotel rooms, thus selling more tickets. It was crowded!
      I also heard the secondary market for ticket to the Convention was going for one hundred dollars over face value.

  2. Every year that I see anything to do with the Cubs convention I can't help but think about how they seem to set the standard for fanfests.

    1. I'm not sure what other teams do for their fanfests, but there isn't much I would change about this one.

  3. So. Damn. Jealous! Never been able to make it to the Convention and this post is quite illustrative as to why that's a terrible mistake. Looks like you had the time of your life!

    1. I think this may be a one-time thing for me, but it's something every Cub fan should experience at least once in my opinion.

  4. Congrats on the awesome experience. I'd love it if the Yankees did something similar, but it'd probably be hell.

    1. The Yankees could totally pull it off, but they would probably need at least three hotels within close proximity of one another. The Cubs had two, with the season ticket holder events being held across the street from the main convention.

  5. The Pirates hold a FanFest every year, but the Cubs version seems a little more interactive and fun. Great stuff Tom!

  6. JEALOUS of everything but I think I'm most jealous of the Eugene Emeralds team set. I didn't see it in their team store after my trip last summer but see it there now. Thanks for the reminder!

    Glad you got your Ross!

    I'm probably a few years away from attending. I wish it wasn't smack dab in the middle of my kids' wrestling season...

  7. Here's some math for you. 20 minutes of entertaining verbal descriptions by sister Jane + 56 posted pix by brother Tom = 76 trombones at the Cub Convention. In other words...excellent coverage of your weekend adventure in Chi-town.