|Sign located outside the entrance to the hotel.|
We all took off work last Friday and arrived early enough to get settled into our room and check out some of the exhibitors, the minor league team booths, and the memorabilia room.
I had a mental checklist of what would make this not just a great weekend, but a truly memorable one:
1. Get lots of autographs and have some cool conversations with the players
2. Win Cubs Bingo
3. See the World Series Trophy
Boom! And we can cross one thing off the list right away!
Here's a few pictures from around the hotel and some of the things found in our Cubs drawstring bags we received upon check-in.
All of the above information can be found in the program for the weekend, but you would need to be wearing a pass on a lanyard around your next to gain access.
Here's a picture of Saturday's schedule from inside the program:
Other items in the drawstring bag were a calendar and a pull tab.
The pull-tab is kind of like a lottery ticket.
Though this year was a little different. I may have gotten the coupon, but Jim & Theresa pulled a opportunity for an Addison Russell autograph and my sister received Ian Happ. Theresa, very generously, gave hers to me. Within two hours later I was able to trade Addison Russell for my favorite current Cub. Winner-winner!
Jim kept Russell, but my sister was able to wheel-and-deal. She turned Happ into Javier Baez, and Baez into Derrek Lee. D-Lee, a super nice guy and tremendous first baseman, was her favorite Cub from the previous decade. We were all walking on cloud nine.
There weren't many opportunities for autographs on the first night, but Gary Pressy, the Cubs' organist, was playing in the lobby.
|I hope Gary doesn't read my blog, this is not a very flattering photo of him. Sorry, Gary!|
I also stopped by the Cubs Charities room and dropped some cash for an autograph from Andre Dawson.
That Friday night the big event going down was the Opening Ceremony. The Cubs invited a ton of alumni and the whole thing was live streamed on Facebook through Comcast Sports Net. Lots of videos, highlights and music made this feel almost like a huge party.
Saturday morning began my autograph chase. The program had a schedule laid out with information about who was signing at what time and on which stage. But, I found the number of signs hanging in the hotel just as helpful:
I attended a couple of scheduled talks last time around, but this year was all about the autograph hunt! Many of the players invited this time around would be new to my autograph collection and from the 80s and 90s, when I was a young Cub fan.
To the autos! I've got these grouped by card age. Up first is Bill Madlock and his 1975 SSPC card.
These guys I know much better. Dave Otto fills in for the Cubs as an announcer. Shawn Boskie doesn't look like he's aged at all since his playing days.
Juan Pierre was signing with Matt Murton at the same table. He made me wait so he could explain to Murton and myself that this was a spring training photo. Murton asked, "How can you tell?" Pierre replied, "I only wore my socks down in the spring!" I love little stories like this.
I think Matt Murton still holds the record for most hits in a season over in Japan. John Baker works in the front office for the Cubs after a short stint as a back-up catcher with the team. About every fifth person or so tried on his World Series ring. LOL He was a real fan friendly guy.
I was able to get two of the newer Cubs. Eddie Butler was added last off-season and he doesn't have a Cubs card that I know of.
Remember earlier in the post when I mentioned being able to trade Theresa's Addison Russell ticket for my current favorite Cub? Here's my A-List player autograph:
Again, I love the personal interaction with the players. He didn't have to take the time like he did, but because he did he's further entrenched me into the Willson Contreras Fan Club. I now have my first autograph of Willson and a memorable experience to boot. I'm a happy Cub fan.
Saturday night was Cubs Bingo! My sister and I both struck out in 2016... but, we had two more people to increase our odds this time. Didn't matter, we each wore the collar. O-for-20 games. Ouch.
The last morning my sister and I got up early to secure our last autographs and on the way out of the hall she spotted 670AM's radio booth.
Wait, I didn't mention that we caught Ron Coomer during a commercial break the previous day and got the Cubs' radio color commentator to sign for us.
Yeah, this happened:
Pat and Ron might as well be family. I listen to far many more games on the radio than I watch on television. Pat is as decorated an announcer as you'll find, and so very much deserved.
I bought a copy of the Cubs World Series CD, which he has narrated.
There were plenty of other fun experiences I could write about, but this has already gotten longer than I originally planned. Let's just say it's safe to say I enjoyed collecting THIRTY autographs, meeting players, seeing the WS trophy, sharing stories with fellow Cubs fans and hanging out with Jim, Theresa and my sister.
Thanks for the Christmas present, Mom and Dad!