Monday, January 15, 2018


Sign located outside the entrance to the hotel.
My parents sent an e-mail to my sister and I, back in the fall, proclaiming that our Christmas present was going to be tickets and a room for the Cubs Convention in 2018. I attended my first convention in 2016 with my sister, ten months before they won the World Series. This time around we were able to attend with our mutual friends, Jim & Theresa.

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!
It only took fourteen months, but I finally got to see the trophy I once thought wasn't possible. <Sigh.> Great moment for yours truly.  Pictured in the background are one of the four glass cases of memorabilia on loan from Cooperstown. Ryne Sandberg, my guy as a young card collector, had items in three of the four cases... so, yeah... I was pretty happy!

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.
 The three day schedule is on the left and summary of events and their locations is on the right.

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:
Plenty of talks to attend, but eyes were meant for the spreadsheet at the top: the schedule of autographs.

Other items in the drawstring bag were a calendar and a pull tab.
The front of the calendar looks just like the program and convention pass, so I thought I would show the back.

The pull-tab is kind of like a lottery ticket.
Everyone gets one pull tab good for an A-list autograph or ... drum roll, please!
$5 off a $50 purchase in the team store. Yeah, the above picture is my pull-tab. My sister and I both got the silly coupon last time, too. I've never had much luck when it comes to games of chance.

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!
 Gary is a treat. He seems to know everyone and if not, he talks to you like you're old friends anyway. He was gracious enough to sign a card commemorating the night the lights went on at Wrigley Field back in 1988. (I stole this idea from Daniel.) For the record, that was Gary's second year playing organ music for the Cubs.
Notice the little musical note he places after his signature. How cool is that!?!

I also stopped by the Cubs Charities room and dropped some cash for an autograph from Andre Dawson.
It was more money ($30) than I've ever paid for an autograph, but it all goes to charity. Hard to argue with that, especially when you get to meet Andre and watch him take his time with what is arguably one of the cooler ballplayer signatures.

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.
The ballroom was as full of fans as the stage was of Cubs. It was great to be with so many fans in the middle of winter. What a rough winter it has been!

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:
Between my 2016 and 2018 trips I was able to get everybody's autograph on Stage C, except for Ray Burris. Next time, Ray!  The ticket on the right guarantees you an autograph for the signer during that time slot. All you have to do is walk up to the Wrigley Field usher at the beginning of line and say, "Please." They're supposed to be collected by the usher at the end of the line, but when you're talking Cub baseball with them they sometimes get distracted. So, I got to keep one as a souvenir. Small victories!

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.
 Also included in the picture are Pete La Cock, Paul Reuschel, Larry Biitner and Tim Stoddard. These guys were all played before I was truly a Cub fan, but they were all super nice.

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.
 I was going to have Brian McRae sign at the top of his card, but he put marker to cardboard before I could get a word out. Still looks sharp! Also pictured above are Dwight Smith, Doug Dascenzo and Terry Adams.

 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.
 For the record, Bobby Howry is ripped. Big dude! Also pictured above are Jon Lieber, Mike Remlinger and Glendon Rusch.

 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 shook hands with only two baseball related individuals over the weekend. One was Koyie Hill. I complemented him on his playing career and held out my held... he shook it. I had to get a closer look at his hand, which was once severely mangled after a run-in with a table saw. They stitched him back up while he held a ball in his hand, because he had a career to think about! Crazy.  Also pictured above are Mike Fontenot, James Russell (a very funny guy) and Ryan Sweeney.

 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.
Randy Rosario was added this off-season. Something about my encounter with Rosario has me rooting for him. He was modest, soft-spoken, and took his time with his signature. 

 Mark Zagunis does not take his time with his signature. We can't all be Andre Dawson or Randy Rosario I guess! LOL

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:
Willson Contreras plays with energy and truly enjoys the game of baseball. He also knows something about baseball cards. As soon as he got the shiny Bowman Platinum card from me he started rubbing where the signature would go. I mentioned to him I had already done the prep work with an eraser and he smiled. After signing, he was about to give me back the card and then he said, "Hold on. I haven't seen this one yet." He looked at the card, paused, and handed it back while saying, "That was a home run." I replied, "Thanks, Willson!"

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.
I hit five of the first seven numbers called and thought I had a real chance. On the eighth number somebody else won. Bummer. The winner of any given game gets a gift certificate to a local Chicago restaurant, an player autographed baseball, and a flag that has flown above historic Wrigley Field. Some day that will be me!

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.
I was lamenting to my sister afterwards how I would never find Pat Hughes at the convention and would have to try get his autograph by TTM (through the mail).

Yeah, this happened:
The legendary Pat Hughes. Legendary.

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.
 He graciously signed it and made it out to me. What a way to end the Cubs Convention!

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!


  1. That sounds like a lot of fun.. I've been to a roaming Jays caravan thing a couple years ago.. They did it at the mall here..

  2. Wow, what an autograph haul! Looks like a blast.

  3. Amazing! Can't wait to go myself. Could probably knock off quite a few ATCRCS cards in two days...

  4. Thanks for the recap...looks like an awesome time! I've only been there once, back in the mid-90s.

  5. That looks like such a great time. Can't go wrong with a gift like that!

  6. Woof! What an amazing haul! I'm especially impressed with the Murton and Hill.

    "Mark Zagunis does not take his time with his signature."

    I can already picture a ton of middle aged men with binders full of his Bowman cards asking for dozens of autographs at a time so he's just trying to sign them as quickly as he can lol.

    The Contreras story was cool. I've had players look at their own cards too, a lot of the time they either don't get any in the first place or have zero down time to actually look at them. Which is why I usually give players I get autographs of their own cards, you'd be surprised how many of them really appreciate that.

  7. Looks like a ball! Oddly enough, I think I'm most jealous of the fact that you got to meet Mike Fontenot. He was always one of my favorite Cubs, and I might be the only person left in Chicago who still regularly wears a #17 Fontenot jersey.

  8. Former Pirate great Jon Lieber!!!! Looks like a fun weekend.

  9. Wow, it looks like you had a great time!

  10. I love seeing how other teams run their Fan Fest. I hope to have my Cardinals WWU post later this week.

  11. That's awesome to hear about all of those interactions you had and autographs you got. I've never been able to see what CubsCon is like until now. Great post!

  12. That looks like such a fun time. And you got so many autographs. Awesome job!!!

  13. That is it. I'm moving to Chicago. Forget Detroit, that event looks like a blast and your team wins games too.

  14. Looks like a great time! Were the autograph stations free or was there a fee for each group? I go to the Orioles each year and all the stations are $20 for 3 players just curious as to how Chicago works it.

    1. I paid for only one of the 30 autographs I obtained, and that was Andre Dawson's, and all proceeds went to Cubs Charities. If you were patient (waiting in line), then you could get as many as you wanted given the time.

  15. Great Pierre and Contreras stories!

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