Cubs Convention report

Tony Kozelichki

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We attended the annual Cubs Convention this past weekend and did our annual hunt for needed autographs to add to our collection.

We arrived in Chicago on Thursday evening, with the convention starting Friday afternoon.

That night, we were able to get Ryan Dempster to sign an '07 division champion ball, along with 2 cards each of Jody Davis, Lee Smith, Glenn Beckert and Randy Hundley. My son and I also had the opportunity to talk with last year's number one draft pick Brett Jackson, but didn't have anything for him to sign.

I was also able to get Alan Trammell on a Topps folder that came out in the late 80's. It's headed to a trading partner in Michigan. I think he'll be pleased.

On Friday, my mission was to purchase a Ron Santo flag that had flown over the Wrigley. Last year I was able to get an Ernie Banks flag from a friend/dealer who had gotten it from the Cubs just prior to the convention. This year, however, the Cubs had tightened their outside sales, holding virtually everything for their online auctions or live auctions at the convention (more on that later). So, despite waiting in line for a couple of hours for the showroom to open so I could get my flag, I ended up empty handed.

Registration allows everyone a chance at a scratch-off ticket for a premium autograph. This year's scratch-offs were for Lou Piniella, Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, Carlos Zambrano, Derek Lee and... Andre Dawson. With four tickets, we got four scratch-offs. One of them was a winner. You then take the winning ticket to a redemption booth where you draw a numbered ping pong ball. My number was "1" and it landed me the much sought after Dawson ticket. Dealers/collectors were offering $100 and more to those carrying the red Dawson tickets. As I already have Dawson autographs on a ball and 8x10, I might have been tempted to sell mine or trade it for autos I wanted (I needed both Lee and Zambrano on 07 and 08 team balls). However, knowing Dawson was going to be there, I brought my copy of Sports Illustrated from 87 showing him getting beaned by Eric Show. My son got the autograph Saturday morning, and Dawson inscribed it HOF 2010.

Dempster signed Friday evening at his own foundation's booth and, in general, was one of the most accessible players throughout the weekend. We secured him on an '08 division champ ball Saturday afternoon after he finished an appearance with WGN Radio, my onetime employer.

My 15-year old daughter got her photo with Mike Fontenot ("he's cute") along with his autograph (a horrible scribble), but was dismayed to see her brother had gotten Randy Wells to sign a card while she was off shopping at Water Tower Place with my wife. Wells ended up being one of the most popular signers all weekend.

Newly acquired Carlos Silva and 09 acquisition John Grabow signed in the hotel lobby. Grabow's wife (very attractive) couldn't believe the scene, saying there was nothing like it in Pittsburgh.

Saturday saw my son head immediately to the Dawson line, while my wife and daughter went to see Micah Hoffpauir in a photo line. He's a distant cousin of my wife and we spent about an hour with him and his wife in our hotel room a year ago. After the Dawson signing, my son went over to see Micah while I went to the live auction.

After his photo gig was over, my family got together with Micah offstage for about 20 minutes or so. I ended up not being able to talk to him at all over the weekend, but did get to see his wife a couple of times.

With the Santo flag a no-go, my next quest was to get some game used Micah stuff.

The team had set up tables with some shoes, hats, bats, pants and batting gloves of various common players, coaches or players no longer with the team. Much of the stuff was unmarked, but some had names or numbers of them. After much digging and finding nothing, I heard a little girl say there was a number 6 on a hat. She didn't want the hat, gave it to me, and there definitely was a 6 on the bill, covered over by sweat stains. The hat was a spring training one Micah had worn back in March, so I grabbed onto it for $20 and waited for the live auction to begin.

By the way, if you are a Milton Bradley fan, there was plenty of his stuff available with virtually no takers. His game worn jerseys could be had for $100, his hats for $20, bats for $50 and shoes for $25.

At the live auction, I was able to pull down a Hoffpauir home jersey and hat, both with proper tagging, for $200. I talked to one of the Cubs' clubhouse guys at dinner that night, who recognized me from the past few years' auctions and he said this year's sales were way down, attributing much of it to the economy. Last year a Hoffpauir jersey went for more than $400 with big names (Lee, Zambrano, Ramirez) reaching into the $1000 range. This year, I saw nothing over $500, but I didn't hang around nearly as long as in years past.

Later that day, the kids got Micah to sign both, along with an 8x10. They were also able to give him a few cards we had, a Beckett checklist of all his cards, and some pages from an internet site showing the Hoffpauir family tree and the links between his family and my wife's.

By the way, despite what the announcers said on TV last year when the Cubs and Cardinals met, Micah and Jarrett Hoffpauir (now of the Blue Jays) ARE related, but even more distant than my family and his.

I was able to get Piniella to sign one of the team balls, my daughter did get to meet Randy Wells and he signed an personalized the latest issue of Vineline and she was able to get a picture with Justin Berg ("another hottie" according to her).

Wells got mobbed Saturday night trying to get from his cab into the hotel, but signed outside the hotel for quite awhile. Later, my son and I saw him try to sneak into an ATM kiosk before he headed back out. I told my son to tell Wells we'd get him out of the building (we're both pretty good sized) and he took us up on the offer, grabbing each of us by the arm as we got him out of the building and into an awaiting cab.

Before the weekend ended, we ended up with a pair of autos from Cubs coach Matt Sinatro, Berg, Esmailin Caridad, Bob Dernier, Gary Matthews and Silva.

My son and I also spent some time talking to Jay Johnstone (who still blames Jim Frey for blowing the '84 playoffs) and Cubs president Crane Kenney, who says the team is exploring its own TV network, similar to what the Yankees have, and expansion of Wrigley Field and construction of the so-called Triangle Building.

All in all, a good time but not the most productive autographing weekend, mostly because we were needing guys like Lee and Zambrano, who weren't available to most fans. Many of the other guys we already had on numerous items.
 

Trader Rich

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Tony,

Sounds like you had an awesome time at the Cub convention.
Thanks for the write up. I found it very interesting.

Rich
 

benob1knob

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Thanks for sharing your experience. That sounds like fun and is totally awesome. Good luck with your Cubs this coming season!!
 

chieftazmisty

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Hey Tony
1st thanks for sharing all of this with the members. It sounds like you had a very great weekend and enjoyable.
Thanks again for the nice read.
Tom
 

Loyalty32

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Tony - Awesome as usual! I always look forward to reading this report! It's almost like I was there myself!

Thanks
Craig
 

hatesgoats

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convention

:cool: I moved away in 83. This report was awesome . Thanks for letting the foriegners in Cub Nation know the goings on. I bleed Cubbie Bleu.
 

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