2020 Cubs Convention report

Tony Kozelichki

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I don't know how many years I've been doing this, but here's another.

Went to the Cubs Convention this weekend and came away with only two autographs. I had plenty of opportunities, but I've shifted my collecting interests and came looking for only three autographs from this year's crop of 50+ attendees: Kris Bryant, Kyle Hendricks, and David Ross. All three I was hoping to get on baseballs to add to my collection of '16 Cubs. I'm down to ten or so, with the others being short timers.

Bryant: ended up being sick. Did attend opening ceremonies, but checked out a short time later. Scheduled to be a voucher signature on Saturday morning. Fans who received his ticket got to pick another player (Rizzo and Sandberg were popular choices), left their address where the Cubs promised a Bryant autographed ball, and got Carlos Zambrano as a replacement. A collector friend of mine landed a Bryant ticket and felt the Cubs did the best they could given the circumstance. He chose a Rizzo ticket as his replacement.

Ross: Made an appearance at opening ceremonies and was well received. Did not do an autograph appearance.

Hendricks: more to come.

My wife, daughter and her boyfriend were there. We got four autograph vouchers. The kids got nothing. I got a David Bote and my wife won a Lee Smith. I went of a mission to trade the pair.

Went around the booths and picked up a couple of mid-90's team issued sets and a post season media guide. Very little else interested me. Fewer dealers in attendance than last year. One did have 2019 Topps Cubs team sets, both regular season issues and the updates. $15 for a set, and since I haven't been trading the past year and a half I went ahead and bought one. I need to get back to trading (tonykozelichki.simplesite.com) to clear out some stuff and pick up some other material for my semi-annual shows.

I did bring an early 70's stadium cardboard photo with me and got Fergie Jenkins to sign it at his fundraising booth for $20. A steal for a hall of famer.

Spent Friday evening attending opening ceremony and part of the Ryan Dempster show. We left that early to head to the Kerry Wood fundraiser which is pricey ($250 a person) but proved to be well worth.

Got the to Wood fundraiser shortly after it opening. All you can eat (pizza, sliders, tacos, meatballs, etc. all very good) and all you can drink. Beer for my wife and daughter, whiskey and coke for the boyfriend, and gin and tonics for me. Celeb bartenders who obviously don't water down the drinks. Thankful for Uber.

In addition to Cubs players, Bear Israel Idonije was there as well as actress Bobbie Hunt, a native Chicagoan. I spent some time talking to her because she starred in a show I liked several years ago called "Davis Rules" which featured Jonathon Winters, a comedic genius. According to her, Winters rarely followed a script and improvised virtually all of his scenes and became a father figure to her (she lost her own father as a child). We took a picture together, which was probably the first time I've had a pic with an actress, even though I've run across many during my days in radio.

Later that evening, Jim Peterik (Ides of March and Survivor) showed up and put on a mini concert ("Vehicle" and "Eye of the Tiger" were highlights. I got a picture with the legendary rocker. Jesse Spencer (Matt Casey from "Chicago Fire") was also there and my wife got her picture with him. Pretty cool on both accounts.

Then, and this was apparently a big deal with my wife's Facebook friends, Taylor Kinney (Serereid from "Chicago Fire") showed up. It took my wife awhile, but she finally got a picture with him. Unbeknownst to her, I hung around a little and got a chance to talk to him while he was just standing around. When we got ready to leave, he ended up standing next to us in the lobby and we started talking again. He got interrupted and I stepped away, but when the person left, he came over to me to finish the conversation. He ended up being a truly classy guy and probably the most "regular" celebrity I ever met (actually, right up there with Burt Reynolds, who was a guest at my radio station back in the mid-80's).

Quite a few Cubs, mostly alumni players, but also Bote and Happ, showed up and in years past my son and I would have had ballcards and photos to get signed and while I could have walked away with a dozen or so new autographs, I kind of lost interest in that part of collecting when my son died five years ago. Still, a good time for all of us that evening.

Saturday morning rolls around and the Bryant situation was the big talk. I went down to the autograph area looking for a trade. Finally ran into a family with two young boys, one holding a sign looking for a Bote autograph and willing to trade his Kyle Hendricks. Needless to say, I jumped at it and threw in the Smith auto for good measure (I'm a sucker for young collectors). I didn't get the chance to meet The Professor as my daughter is a big fan of his. She got the graph and she was her boyfriend as able to get a picture with him. Fortunately, I got to keep the ball.

I spent the day at the various "sessions", a chance to sit and listen to players talk about their interests, goals, careers, etc. Best part was a kids press conference where 12 and under kids ask the questions, many without reservations. One eight year old said his dad makes him wear a cup when he plays, that it's uncomfortable, but won't tell him why and wondered if the players did. Schwarber gave a great answer about wearing one in the outfield and how he stopped wearing one later in the year and taking a hit to "the boys". Another asked Rizzo when was his first kiss. Rizzo answered and gave the wrong date of his wedding at which point his wife corrected him.

Bingo on Saturday night. Didn't win anything...again. Got to find something better to do on a Saturday night.

Sunday meant one session with 80's players Lee Smith Gary Matthews, Ryne Sandberg, Bobby Dernier, Andre Dawson and HOFer Fergie Jenkins. Great hearing them reminisce, Best line was Sandberg and Dernier talking about having private signals for hit and run and Dawson saying in '87 he told them not to be running on the bases because when he stepped up to the plate he was "already in scoring position."

Pizza at Malnati's on the way home. Stopped in Champaign to drop of my daughter and finally got home around 7:00. Monday off due to the MLK holiday, so a day to recover. Still on the search for nine more autographs, but getting the Hendricks was a coup.

Thanks for reading.
 

David K.

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Great read....always look forward to the next one! Good luck on getting the Kris Byrant auto! Best regards, David PS Sorry about the passing of your son.
 

KCLJ520

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Thanks for the insiders perspective on the Convention, Tony! My best friend lives on the North Side, and goes every year, and has talked about the lines, crowds, etc.

So thankful that you got to share the experience with your wife and daughter and her boyfriend, that is awesome. My condolences again, you are an awesome Dad, I know your son is proud of you!

Blessings,

Kevin
 

KCLJ520

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Ps: Lou Malnatis is awesome pizza! I'm from LaGrange originally, and love those restaurants!

If your daughter lives in Champaign, I lived right across Green Street from Papa Del's, not sure if you have ever had their pizza, but it's the best!!
 

Tony Kozelichki

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Thanks for the replies and the expressions for my son.

As for Champaign, we haven't tried pizza there. I've probably been there a half dozen times to date and we've tried a couple of BBQ places, a local Chinese buffet and my daughter's favorite, Pandamonium, a fantastic donut shop. Oh, and my favorite, Portillo's, a throwback to my own Chicago days.

As a side note, the old Cub photos in Malnati's Schaumburg restaurant were once mine. Marc Malnati wanted to buy them from me in the mid-80's, but I traded him for a pizza party for some coaching friends of mine.
 

KCLJ520

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Thanks for the replies and the expressions for my son.

As for Champaign, we haven't tried pizza there. I've probably been there a half dozen times to date and we've tried a couple of BBQ places, a local Chinese buffet and my daughter's favorite, Pandamonium, a fantastic donut shop. Oh, and my favorite, Portillo's, a throwback to my own Chicago days.

As a side note, the old Cub photos in Malnati's Schaumburg restaurant were once mine. Marc Malnati wanted to buy them from me in the mid-80's, but I traded him for a pizza party for some coaching friends of mine.
That is really cool, Tony, I missed this post, but will be in Schaumburg sometime in the next year or so, and will try to stop in and see the photos! How cool, and a great trade for some delicious, and very pricey, pizza!!

God bless,

Kevin
 
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