2017 Cubs Convention Report

Tony Kozelichki

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Sorry, I forgot to post this a couple of weeks ago.

The annual Chicago Cubs Convention was held the weekend of January 13-15 at the downtown Sheraton.

We arrived about 10:30 a.m. on Friday, and had no problems checking in. The crowd apparently hadn't arrived yet, or so we thought. The crowd was actually in the basement of the hotel waiting for credentials for the convention. We waited in line about an hour to get our passes, but met a couple of great "security" people who informed us where the World Series trophy would be. People must not have been as lucky as us, because we immediately went to the room, got in line, and waited no more than 15 minutes to get our photo with the trophy. Later during the weekend, the line was huge and I heard people were lining up as much as three hours before exhibits opened to get in the trophy line.

As per past custom, everyone who registered received a pull tab for one of the premium autographs. When I say premium this year, it meant every single active player on the World Series roster. Unless you got a pull tab, there was little likelihood of getting any autographs from members of the Series team. In years past, we've been able to get autographs from just about everybody in attendance and, in fact, got baseballs signed by almost the entire 07 and 08 playoff teams at the convention.

Fortunately, I wasn't shooting for a team ball (I already own one signed during the Series). My goal, however, is to get a signed individual ball from every player who was on the roster at one time or another during the season, like my '69 Cubs collection. Pull tabs would mean a very long wait, which actually got even longer when my three admissions each came up empty. I already have a few balls, such as Rizzo, Baez, Soler, Travis Wood and Arrieta (last year's pull tab winner), but that leaves another 35 or so that I have to get. I was able to land a Rob Zystryzny when my daughter was able to get in his line, and did purchase some balls from a dealer I'm familiar with (Miguel Montero, Adam Warren, CJ Edwards, Matt Szczur and Justin Grimm--all on MLB balls and for $90!). Okay, I down to about 30, so not a bad start.

The crowd was massive. Said to be the largest convention to date. Totally oversold. I know it's a charity event, but all the lines, pushing and shoving, etc., and the lack of access to the players made for a less than satisfying experience. The Cubs have stated their intention is to make their players more comfortable at the ballpark and less harassed so they can do their job. Apparently, it has extended to their own convention as players are no longer seen in lobbies, restaurants, or milling about. The sessions are no set up so fans cannot approach the players when they are done speaking. Success has certainly changed things for collectors.

Speaking of collecting, the team holds a sale of game used items and has an auction of the more premium stuff. Usually game used jerseys of lesser players and coaches are offered from sale from $100-200 each. This year, no game used anything from 2016 was available. The auction was even void of quality stuff, so I didn't stick around much as I have in other years.

There was a better selection of vendors available, and I picked up a few items, but nothing of any significance or rarity like in years past. Much was simply overpriced, even more so than past conventions. I did purchase a grab bag of stadium giveaways, but there was nothing earth shaking in it, although I will keep the rally towel given out at the three World Series home games. The hats, shirts, Joe Maddon bobble and other stuff will either be re-bagged and sold as a whole of parted out when I next set up at the show or flea market.

The sessions throughout the weekend were very good. The opening ceremony contained an awesome highlight video. Ryan Dempster did another version of his late night talk show with every big name coming on stage at some point. His last guest was David Ross who has become a cult hero. Best line of the night was Ross' "Your Welcome Notes" (takeoff on Jimmy Fallon's "Thank Yous), "You're welcome Jon Lester for throwing out all those runners at second base because you can't hold anybody on."

Saturday sessions were different this year. Instead of having a couple going on in separate rooms at the same time, only one session was offered throughout much of the day, and they were always packed. We got three seats early in the morning and pretty much stayed all day. Sessions included one with the Ricketts family, another with Epstein and other team management, Maddon and his coaches, the all-star infield, the pitching staff and the usual kids only press conference and business management (where it as announced there would be no replica ring giveaways this year, but that there would be a miniature statue giveaway).

Saturday night meant Bingo (again, SRO) and this year the prizes all included an autographed ball from one of the 2016 stars and an autographed copy of the game seven lineup card. No jerseys or flags at all, like in past years. A major letdown as I'm always hoping for a Santo flag. Still, I'd take a Bryant or Lester ball, but I never win at bingo.

Sunday meant a session with members of the 1984 Cubs, which was great. Panel included Sandberg, Matthews, Dernier, Jody Davis, Lee Smith and Steve Trout. A minor league session was scheduled, but we left because of a pending ice storm in my home area more than 3 hours away.

All in all, still a very enjoyable weekend despite the lack of autograph opportunities. The winning of the World Series was really a letdown for me as I was in Omaha tending to a brother who was undergoing major heart surgery that day (he's a cop and I swear the whole Omaha police force was around that weekend). I watched the series, but couldn't much enjoy it as I was at the hospital nearly 12 hours that day. For me, the convention was that moment when the series became real, but bittersweet, as my son has been gone for nearly three years and I know he would have gone nuts over this year's team. I think he may have been able to snag a few autographs as he was quite the hawk, even going back to when he was 8 or 9 years old and chased down Sammy Sosa or when he nearly got into a cab getting Ryne Sandberg to sign for him. Good memories.
 

89Giants

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Bummer that they aren't giving out replica rings. The Giants giveaway World Series rings are my favorite, they look and feel real.
 

katester44

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Staff member
Always enjoy this report. Glad you had another good experience - can only imagine how much better it would have been under different circumstances.
 
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