Cubs Convention report

Tony Kozelichki

Active member
555
5.00 star(s)
A few changes to report during my annual trek to the Cubs Convention this past weekend.

1. For the first time in several years, I did not go up a night early. With my kids in college and unable to miss classes, and my wife unable to get the day off, it wasn't worth the $250 or so for the hotel room for me to go up on Thursday night. I know this means missing some great autograph opportunities. I did take the train up on Friday morning, and my wife and son drove up Friday night. My daughter did not want to go this year.

2. Got to the venue about 11:30 Friday morning. Not much action in the lobby on Friday. Heard Thursday night was good for autograph seekers with Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant among those coming through the lobby and signing.

3. Got my passes and programs and headed to my room to plan out the weekend. The Cubs have gone to a pull tab system for awarding premier autographs. Out of my four passes, I got none for the first time in several years. Premium autographs this year were Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins, all signing on Sunday, while Saturday signers were Lee Smith, Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jeff Samardzija, Kerry Wood (more on that later), Travis Wood, Derrek Lee and Ted Lilly. I came needing Lee and Lilly on 2007 and 2008 team balls and was hoping to land Travis Wood to add to my Cubs all star collection. I've added Toby Atwell, Don Elston and Mitch Williams balls to that collection this year. Not looking good.

4. Vendor tables opened at 2pm. Excellent article at:

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/arti...bs-still-cracking-down-on-convention-vendors#

detailing why so few vendors now set up. Only one vendor at the show had cards. A couple had photos. Only one, my good friend Dan Knoll, had anything of real value. Ended up buying a Sammy Sosa autographed ball from him (came from a Cubs employee). In fact, he had a number of quality balls from this same Cubs employee and well as a number of bats. Best item was a 1984 NL East Division Champs brown bat given to only players and team employees. Price tag was $275. Very reasonable, but with two kids in college and a Christmas trip to Disney just completed, it was out of my price range. Dan also had a complete, unused ticket from the 1980 U.S./Soviet Union Olympic hockey game. Didn't ask what he priced it at, but the face value on the ticket was $67.20, a huge amount of money for a sports ticket in 1980. I was paying $1.50 to sit in the bleachers at Wrigley Field a couple years later.

4. Vendors, obviously, were a disappointment. Cubs did have grab bags of promotional materials and grab bags of autographed balls available for $30 each. I decided on Sunday to get a grab bag and ended up with a pair of noise cancelling headphones, a beer pitcher and glasses, a T-shirt, an anniversary 1st night game hat, a few other items, and a giveaway from American Girl day, which my daughter (even though she's in college) will appreciate. Well worth the $30. I passed on the mystery balls, even though I saw a guy get a Fukudome ball when he opened his box (it's one I need to the all star collection).

5. Attended the opening ceremony. The only player listed who did not appear was Hector Rondon. Kerry Wood also did not attend, but everyone
knows his foundation has a fundraiser that night at Navy Pier, so his absence was expected. He was still scheduled for autograph signing on Saturday.

6. After the opener, they have an "Autograph Hunt" game where you get in a line, but don't know who will be signing. Usually, it's rookies and bench players. Kris Bryant was one of the signers. Dave Kingman was another. Not too bad when you get the first round pick and a former all star. I, however, wasn't in either line. I got in a line, already knowing Jorge Soler was located nearby (didn't need him as I already have him on a MLB baseball that I got signed when he player in Peoria), and figured if it turned out to be someone I didn't want, I would just leave and hope for another. It turned out my signer was Javier Baez. I stayed in line. Got a baseball signed. Baez would be in a kids only line on Saturday, so getting him was a big deal.

7. After securing Baez, I figured I wouldn't get anyone else, so I headed upstairs to watch a new movie on the history of Wrigley Field. Before getting there, I saw some small lines in a area set up for kids' games and was able to get Jim Bullinger, Les Lancaster and current Cub Blake Parker (all great guys) on baseball cards and Bill Madlock on an RC Cola can. Another great display item.

8. My wife and son got to town around 9pm. He's a college senior now. We hung around the lobby that evening and secured cards from Randy Hundley, Mike Olt, Tim Stoddard, Ron Coomer and Gary Matthews. I also got my 08 baseball signed by Scott Eyre. The real surprise was Fergie Jenkins, one of Sunday's premium signers and someone who doesn't sign for free and his foundation brings in hall of famers who sign for a donation to JDRF. For $20, you can get Jenkins, Gaylord Perry and Rollie Fingers to sign for charity. Jenkins signed at least 60 autographs there in the lobby, including my 70 Topps Super.

9. Saturday meant attending sessions based on the owners and baseball business management. At the Cubs Jeopardy session, my son and I were able to land Lilly on the two balls. A great pickup. I knew Lee would be signing for anyone for a half hour at the Comcast booth, but employees of the TV network refused to say when. Somehow, word leaked out he'd be there at noon, so I got in line. Noon became 12:20 when he finally arrived, and I had my doubts about getting to the head of the line. Well, they cut off the line... five people after me. The signing was one per person, so I gave Lee the option of which of the two balls he preferred to sign. He said both, and penned his name to each!

10. Several players did not show up for their signings at all. Mike Olt and Edwin Jackson were no shows, as was Randy Hundley, who did make up for it by signing, unannounced, on Sunday. But the most significant no show was Kerry Wood. To get Wood, you had to get a random pull tab upon check in. No explanation for his absence was given. A couple of years back, Madlock did not attend due to a blizzard in western Pennsylvania and subsequent flight cancellations. No one was really disappointed when his replacement was none other than Kerry Wood. Well, Wood's replacement this time around wasn't Rizzo or Banks or Williams. It was RYAN SWEENEY. Fortunately, I didn't win a Wood autograph, or I would have been seriously pissed.

11. One last chance to nail down Travis Wood came at the Cubs Family Feud session; however, as soon as the session ended, Wood bolted and didn't sign for anybody. Getting a player at a session is a crap shoot. Usually. we've had good success in the past, including Billy Williams, Lou Piniella, Ron Santo and (one of the few signed that day) Sammy Sosa. No Travis Wood. He'll be much easier to attain next year if he's not an all star.

12. Didn't troll the lobby Saturday night, as I was pretty wiped out. Sunday meant a session with the 84 Cubs, a final goodbye to Dan Knoll, and hotel checkout before lunch at Lou Malnati's (the best pizza in Chicago), then a four hour drive home.

All in all, a good time and very successful autographing. If anyone is interested, I have cards signed by Gary Matthews, Scott Eyre, Geovany Soto, Carmen Fanzone and Tim Stoddard (all in person at various conventions over the years) for trade for the IP Cubs.
 

rl16

Active member
978
5.00 star(s)
Nice report. Always interesting to see how other teams run their fan fests. I hope to have my report about Cardinals Winter Warm Up posted later today.

Ray
 
Top