Archive for the ‘ Alumni ’ Category

From the Pages of Vine Line: Q&A with Dave Otto

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Every month, Vine Line checks in with Cubs alumni in our Glory Days section. For the August issue, we caught up with former pitcher and broadcaster Dave Otto. The lanky left-hander, who pitched eight major league seasons, had the good fortune to finish his career playing for his hometown Cubs. The father of three grew up in Elk Grove, Ill., and now lives in the western Chicago suburbs. When his boyhood hero Ron Santo became ill and needed a day off from time to time, Otto was there to handle the mic as color commentator for WGN Radio. Though he’s out of baseball now, Otto hopes to get back into uniform someday as a coach.

CAREER ASPIRATIONS
“I work for Best Transportation Services, a small transportation company in Chicago, as director of sales and marketing. But there’s a point down the road where I’ll probably get back down on the field as a coach. I had a lot of great pitching coaches—Dave Duncan and Ray Miller. So I’d like to pass on some of that. The game gets in your blood.”

FAMILIAR CONFINES
“The first time I walked into Wrigley was probably 1968 or ’69. I have a vague memory of it, but the place is timeless. I used to go with my grandma for Ladies’ Day. As a player, there were times where I’d look out and remember where I used to sit as a kid. That was kind of cool.”

IDOL REFERENCES
“I was left-handed and I didn’t play third base, but Ron Santo was somebody I just loved to watch. He was such a bulldog. I tried to emulate Ken Holtzman. He had that big curveball and turned his back to the hitter. I tried to hide the ball real well like that.”

BULLPEN CRASHER
“I was in minor league camp during Spring Training after I signed with the Cubs. The big league team would call over a couple of extra pitchers just in case the guys scheduled to pitch couldn’t fill out their innings. A couple of times, I’d just go over to HoHoKam. Yosh [Kawano, the clubhouse manager] would give me a uniform, and I’d just show up to practice there. I remember one time manager Tom Trebelhorn said, ‘Hey, we don’t have you scheduled here.’ And I said, ‘Somebody over there told me you wanted me over here.’ And so I’d sit in the bullpen, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t get into the game. That happened twice!”

JORDAN RULES
“I started the year off in Triple-A. They flew me in for an exhibition game against the White Sox at Wrigley, and then I flew back to Des Moines. So I gave up a hit to Michael Jordan. He hit a fastball. I didn’t want to walk him. He also got a hit off of Chuck Crim, so I wasn’t the only one.”

WILD SEASON
“On my first day as a Cub, Trebelhorn was having a firehouse chat after the game with fans. A week after that, they showed up with a billy goat that they were walking around on the field. Then Ryne Sandberg retired in the middle of the season. We were getting on a flight to the West Coast while he was holding a press conference. And the whole O.J. Simpson thing was going down then too. Crazy year.”

Happy Birthday: Ernie Banks turns 82

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Hall of Famer Ernie Banks turned 82 years old Thursday. Mr. Cub played 19 seasons with the Cubs, accumulating MVP awards in 1958-59, racking up 11 All-Star trips and a Gold Glove in 1960. Banks was a career .274 hitter and was the ninth member to join the 500 home run club, finishing with 512. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977, earning 83.8 percent of the votes on his first attempt.

Cubs Caravan is on the move

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Chicago Cubs have announced the Cubs On The Move 2013 Caravan Tour, which includes the winners of the 2013 Cubs Caravan Visits My School Contest. The annual tour will feature two buses of players, coaches and front office personnel.

This year’s Caravan theme, Cubs On The Move, reflects the Cubs’ and Chicago Cubs Charities’ focus on health and fitness.

The tour will visit six schools, four hospitals and the Chicago Public Library on January 16 and 17. New stops this year include the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine base, where Cubs players, coaches and front office staff will serve lunch to active duty military and veterans in partnership with the USO. The Caravan will also stop at the new Cubs Single-A affiliate Kane County Cougars’ ballpark and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Two lucky schools were selected as winners of the Cubs Caravan Visits My School Contest this year: Montini Catholic High School and DeWitt Clinton Elementary School. Montini Catholic (Lombard, Ill.) was selected as a contest winner for proudly displaying team memorabilia throughout the school. DeWitt Clinton Elementary School (Chicago) was selected for integrating Cubs baseball into their teaching curriculum and for their commitment to fitness initiatives.

Attendees (subject to change) include: David Bell, Joe Bohringer, Mike Borzello, Michael Bowden, Randy Bush, Shawn Camp, Tony Campana, Steve Clevenger, Rob Deer, David DeJesus, Jim Deshaies, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Len Kasper, Andy Lane, Dave McKay, Jason McLeod, Keith Moreland, Jamie Quirk, Shiraz Rehman, Anthony Rizzo, James Rowson, James Russell, Dave Sappelt, Lester Strode and Dale Sveum.

CUBS ON THE MOVE 2013 CARAVAN ITINERARIES
TOUR ONE
January 16
9 a.m. – Montini Catholic High School – Lombard, IL
11 a.m. – 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, 3034 W. Foster Ave. – Chicago (Cubs Caravan Luncheon)
12:15 p.m. – Advocate Christ Medical Center – Oak Lawn, IL (Two players)
1 p.m. – DeWitt Clinton Elementary School – Chicago
2:15 p.m. – Museum of Science and Industry – Chicago

January 17
10 a.m. – Fox Chase Elementary School – Oswego, IL
11:15 a.m. – Kane County Cougars – Geneva, IL
2 p.m. – Advocate Lutheran General Hospital – Park Ridge, IL
4 p.m. – Urban Initiatives at Jahn World Language Elementary School – Chicago

TOUR TWO
January 16
9:15 a.m. – Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago – Chicago
11 a.m. – 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, 3034 W. Foster Ave. – Chicago (Cubs Caravan Luncheon)
2 p.m. – Battalion 9 Fire House – Chicago
3:45 p.m. – Chicago Public Library: Merlo Branch – Chicago

January 17
9:30 a.m. – Lake View High School – Chicago
11 a.m. – D’Agostino’s Pizza with Blaine Elementary School – Chicago
3 p.m. – John Spry Elementary School – Chicago
3:30 p.m. – Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago/Ronald McDonald House – Chicago

Former Cubs come up short on Hall of Fame ballot

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

In a Hall of Fame vote filled with as much drama as checking off a name can produce, not one of the 37 eligible participants received enough votes to earn a Hall call. This is only the second time in four decades, and the first time since 1996, Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters failed to elect any candidates.

The 2013 ballot was headlined by controversial superstars—including baseball’s only seven-time MVP Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens—but it was former Astros catcher/second baseman Craig Biggio who led all candidates with 68.2 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility. Players must receive at least 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement.

While nobody got into Cooperstown by this vote, there was no shortage of former Cubs on the ballot. Lee Smith spent eight seasons on the North Side from 1980-87, compiling 180 saves. In his 11th year of eligibility, he earned 47.8 percent of the vote. Fred McGriff, who spent time with the Cubs in 2001-02, earned 20.7 percent of the vote. And, most notably, former slugger Sammy Sosa, owner of 609 career home runs (545 with the Cubs), received just 12.5 percent of the vote in his first season of eligibility. Though the total is small, it’s well above the 5 percent necessary to remain on the ballot.

Below is a list of former Cubs and the percentage of votes they received on the 2013 BBWAA ballot:

Lee Smith — 272 votes, 47.8 percent, eleventh year on ballot
Fred McGriff — 118 votes, 18.6 percent, fourth year on ballot
Sammy Sosa — 71 votes, 12.5 percent, first year on ballot
Rafael Palmeiro — 50 votes, 8.8 percent, third year on ballot
Kenny Lofton — 18 votes, 3.2 percent, first year on ballot (did not receive enough votes for 2014 ballot)
Todd Walker — 0 votes, 0 percent, first year on ballot (did not receive enough votes for 2014 ballot)
Rondell White — 0 votes, 0 percent, first year on ballot (did not receive enough votes for 2014 ballot)

Woody’s Winter Warm-Up tickets on sale now

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(Art by Jerry Neumann)

Kerry Wood has spent most of his adult life honing his craft as a major league pitcher. So excuse him if he’s not a world-class bartender.

On Jan. 18, you’ll get your chance to see him in action and critique his skills as he slings drinks at the second annual Woody’s Winter Warm-Up at Harry Caray’s Tavern on Navy Pier. Starting at 8:30 p.m., Wood will join former and current Cubs players, as well as local celebrities, behind the bar, where they will compete for tips with all proceeds benefitting the Wood Family Foundation. Wood said the event is a good time, and current players like Darwin Barney, Jeff Samardzija and James Russell are expected to attend.

“People want to give back and do it for a good cause,” Wood said. “Last year … people got really into it, and it was really cool.”

At the inaugural mixer in 2012, the Grammy-nominated band Plain White T’s performed. They even got a little help from former Cub Randy Wells and baseball president Theo Epstein on a few songs. The event raised more than $85,000, thanks to about 30 current and former players, who pitched in behind the bar or simply enjoyed the evening.

But don’t count on Wood to make you the best Old-Fashioned or dirty martini of your life, as he admits this probably won’t be a new career path.

“I’m really good at taking the tops of beers off with the opener,” Wood joked. “I pour a mean glass of wine, but I’m not a mixologist.”

Tickets are on sale now and in limited supply. For more information, visit woodfamilyfoundation.org.

On This Date in 2001: Moises Alou joins the Cubs

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

On this date in 2001, the Cubs came to terms with corner outfielder Moises Alou on a three-year deal worth $27 million.

Alou had three solid seasons on the North Side, including a 2004 All-Star campaign, in which he hit .293/.361/.557 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 39 homers, 36 doubles and 106 driven in. The slugger’s 335 total bases were good for fourth in the NL that year, and he finished 14th in MVP voting.

In his three seasons with the Cubs, the veteran hit .283 with 76 homers, 258 RBI, 94 doubles and a .353 on-base percentage. In his first year with the organization, Alou had the highest fielding percentage among NL left fielders. He was granted free agency in November 2004 and signed with the Giants in January 2005.

Despite his success on the field, many best remember Alou for his involvement in the Steve Bartman incident. In Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, Bartman, a fan, reached over onto the field, preventing the left fielder from making the catch.

1000 Words: 25 years ago this month

What year is it? The October 1987 cover of Vine Line featured Cubs outfielder and eventual NL MVP Andre Dawson. In his first season with the Cubs, the Hawk hit .287/.328/.568 (AVG/OBP/SLG), and led the NL in home runs (49) and RBI (137). He also won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger.

Santo’s call to the Hall

Cubs fans have been waiting a long time for third baseman Ron Santo to take his rightful place in Cooperstown. That long wait finally comes to an end this weekend. On Sunday, July 22, Santo will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, where he’ll join  teammates Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins.

To celebrate Santo’s induction, the Cubs have announced a schedule of events that will allow fans to take part in the joyous occasion. The full press release is attached below.

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs have announced a schedule of events for fans to celebrate Ron Santo’s Hall of Fame induction, including a Cubs Corner Luncheon at Wildfire Chicago July 17; a Cubs Fan Fest in Cooperstown, N.Y., July 21; the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown July 22; a corresponding viewing party at Wrigley Field’s Captain Morgan Club July 22; and Ron Santo Day at Wrigley Field for the Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals game July 27, the team’s first home game following Santo’s induction.

On Ron Santo Day at Wrigley Field, the Cubs will honor Santo with a special pregame ceremony featuring members of his family. The first 10,000 fans in the gate will receive a commemorative Ron Santo Hall of Fame Plaque courtesy of PNC Bank, while commemorative memorabilia will be also available for purchase from corporate partners such as Majestic and Chicago Kernel Gourmet Popcorn. The team has partnered with Scotts to incorporate an honorary design into the outfield grass of Wrigley Field for that afternoon’s game.

“Ron Santo embodied what it meant to be a Chicago Cub. This franchise couldn’t be prouder as he is enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and we’re honored he will forever represent the Chicago Cubs in Cooperstown,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. “Our family looks forward to celebrating this well-deserved accomplishment with Cubs fans worldwide.”

A full schedule of celebratory events follows:

July 17 – Cubs Corner Luncheon – Chicago

A panel featuring Ron Santo’s son, Ron Santo Jr., former teammate and Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, and Cubs WGN Radio broadcaster Pat Hughes will reflect on Ron Santo’s Hall of Fame induction at the Cubs Corner Luncheon July 17 at Wildfire Chicago. The session will air on WGN Radio 720 AM from 12-1 p.m. CDT.

Cubs Corner Luncheon tickets are priced at $55 per person, inclusive of tax and gratuity. Each guest receives an autographed photo of a featured panelist upon check-in and a lunch of signature Wildfire dishes, including an individual salad, rolls, an individual main course plate and dessert. On-site registration begins at 11 a.m. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., while the live broadcast takes place from 12-1 p.m. Tickets are available at http://www.cubs.com/cubscorner.

July 21 – Cubs Fan Fest – Cooperstown

The Cubs will host a Cubs Fan Fest in Cooperstown Saturday, July 21, in honor of Ron Santo’s induction into the Hall of Fame. The party will be held in the lawn-tented section of Cooperstown’s Fenimore Art Museum from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. EDT. This casual party is for Cubs fans who wish to celebrate Santo’s life and induction with other members of the Cubs community, including Ron’s teammates and several members of the Cubs front office. Special guests include Pat Hughes, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert, the Ricketts family and others. Attendees will enjoy a live Q-and-A session, video of memorable Santo moments, music, food and drinks. A suggested $10 donation at the event will help benefit Chicago Cubs Charities and the not-for-profit National Baseball Hall of Fame.

July 22 – National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – Cooperstown

The National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Sunday will take place in Cooperstown July 22 at 1:30 p.m. EDT on the grounds outside of the Clark Sports Center. The ceremony is expected to last two hours. Seating for the event is unlimited and free of charge. A blanket or lawn chair is recommended for comfortable viewing. Ball caps, yearbooks and museum membership packages are available for purchase at the Hall of Fame induction site.

July 22 – Hall of Fame Induction Viewing Party, Wrigley Field’s Captain Morgan Club – Chicago

Concurrent with the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown, the Cubs will host a viewing party at the Captain Morgan Club adjacent to Wrigley Field starting at 11 a.m. CDT. Attendees can watch the ceremony live on dozens of televisions from 12:30-2:30 p.m. CDT just steps away from Ron Santo’s statue at the corner of Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue.

July 27 – Ron Santo Day at Wrigley Field – Chicago

The first Cubs home game following the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be dedicated to honoring Ron Santo in the ballpark he enjoyed the most with the fans he cherished closely. The following activities will highlight Ron Santo Day at Wrigley Field:
·         The Cubs will honor Santo during an on-field ceremony featuring members of his family before the 1:20 p.m. CDT game vs. the St. Louis Cardinals.
·         The first 10,000 fans to arrive at that day’s game will receive a commemorative Ron Santo Hall of Fame Plaque, courtesy of PNC Bank.
·         The outfield grass in center field will showcase an honorary Number 10 design that was chosen by fans through a partnership with Scotts, the Official Lawn Care Company of the Cubs and Major League Baseball.
·         Chicago Kernel Gourmet Popcorn will hand out free samples of their gourmet popcorn at Wrigley Field and sell a limited-edition collectible art popcorn tin commemorating Ron Santo’s legendary career and induction into the Hall of Fame. Each tin includes a limited-edition Ron Santo baseball card.
·         Majestic will offer commemorative Ron Santo Hall of Fame Cubs jerseys, T-shirts and patches for sale, with proceeds benefitting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Fans may purchase tickets for the July 27 game at Wrigley Field at http://www.cubs.com, 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827) or in person at the Wrigley Field Box Office.

Get your vote in

Don’t miss out on your chance to vote for Vine Line‘s all-time best Cubs roster. We’re letting readers decide who is the best-ever Cub at each position, and the results will be featured in the July All-Star edition of the magazine. Cast your vote now before the poll closes.

Cubs Trivia: Milwaukee’s Best?

By now, many are aware of Cubs Manager Dale Sveum’s ties to the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He spent 1986-91 as a player with the franchise to the north. Then from 2006-11, he acted at various times as the team’s bench coach, third base coach, hitting coach and interim manager. But he isn’t the only Cubs skipper in the last decade to have ties to the Brew Crew.

Rene, who went 0-1 as the Cubs’ interim manager in 2002, also spent time at the helm of the Brewers. Lachemann was an assistant to Don Baylor from 2000-02 with the Cubs, but he managed the team on July 5, 2002, against the Braves–the night Baylor was fired and before Bruce Kimm relieved him of his duties. Matt Clement picked up the loss in a 4-3 defeat.

Lachemann managed the Brewers during the 1984 season. There were high hopes for the squad, which was only two years removed from losing the World Series in seven games. But Lachemann’s team finished a disappointing 67-94, and he was fired with three games remaining in the season.

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