Archive for the ‘ Alumni ’ Category

Woody’s Winter Warm-Up tickets on sale now

Woody's-Winter-Warm-Up

(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

ALOU M

(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.

Old faces in new places

When looking at the 2011-12 offseason, there is one word that best describes the Chicago Cubs from top to bottom: Change.

The Ricketts group hired Theo Epstein to act as President of Baseball Operations and subsequently hired a new GM in Jed Hoyer. Payroll was cut in favor of stocking the farm system, and probably most important, many player moves were made. While the Cubs signed a plethora of young talent hoping to help the organization in the future, if not this year, many notable Cubs became “former Cubs” either by trade or free agency.

Let’s see how some of the old faces have fared thus far with their new teams:

Andrew Cashner: Cubs 2008-11; Traded to Padres Jan. 2012
Spring Training line: 8 IP, 11 K’s, 6 HA, ER, 1.13 ERA

Tyler Colvin: Cubs 2006-11; Traded to Rockies Dec. 2011
Spring Training line: 41 AB, HR, 10 RBI, 16 hits, .390/.429/.610

Sean Marshall: Cubs 2003-11; Traded to Reds Dec. 2011
Spring Training line: 8 IP, 12 K’s, 5 HA, 4 ER, 4.50 ERA

Carlos Pena: Cubs 2011; Free agent signed with Rays Jan. 2012
Spring Training line: 28 AB, 0 HR, RBI, 4 hits, .143/.333/.250

Aramis Ramirez: Cubs 2003-11; Free agent signed with Brewers Dec. 2011
Spring Training line: 32 AB, HR, 2 RBI, 8 hits, .250/.273/.406

Carlos Zambrano: Cubs 1997-11; Traded to Marlins Jan. 2012
Spring Training line: 13.2 IP, 17 K’s, 14 HA, 7 ER, 4.61 ERA

Now Playing: 2012 Cubs Convention

From Jan. 13-15, Cubs fans of all ages gathered at the Hilton Chicago to warm up the winter and mingle with more than 70 Cubs players, coaches and front office personnel at the sold-out 27th annual Cubs Convention. Vine Line was there the whole weekend to document all the happenings, including Kerry Wood’s triumphant return, the Ron Santo Hall of Fame Panel and all the new Wrigley Field news. Get ready for the season and check out the sights and sounds of the 2012 Cubs Convention.

2012 Cubs Convention kicks off this weekend

The 27th Annual Cubs Convention will be held this weekend, Jan. 13-15, at the Hilton Chicago, located at 720 S. Michigan Ave., and Vine Line will be there blogging all weekend to keep you up to date on the latest news and happenings.

The three-day fanfest gives Cubs faithful the opportunity to interact with more than 80 current and former Cubs players, coaches and prospects. This year’s event features a number of new family friendly sessions and activities, including an interactive baseball area hosted by the Illinois Baseball Academy, a gaming zone and the LEGOLAND Discovery Zone.

But the real stars of the show might be the team’s new baseball leadership — Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer,  Jason McLeod and Dale Sveum — and their vision for the Cubs future. This vision has become clearer in recent weeks, as a flurry of moves have sent old-guard players like Sean Marshall, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano out of Chicago in favor of younger talent like top first base prospect Anthony Rizzo and starters Travis Wood, Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm.

Opening Ceremonies begin Friday at 5 p.m. in the Hilton Chicago Grand Ballroom. The Saturday morning proceedings will be highlighted by  “Behind the Scenes with Theo Epstein”, followed by “Meet Cubs Baseball Management” with General Manager Jed Hoyer, Assistant General Manager Randy Bush and Manager Dale Sveum.

Other notable weekend sessions include:

  • “Coaches’ Den,” featuring new manager Dale Sveum, new bench coach Jamie Quirk, new pitching coach Chris Bosio, new first base coach Dave McKay, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and bullpen coach Lester Strode discussing their coaching philosophies, moderated by Bob Brenly.
  • “Ron Santo: Beyond the Game,” featuring widow Vicki Santo, son Ron Santo Jr., and friends and teammates Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley and Billy Williams discussing the personal side of Ron Santo and his recent Hall of Fame election, moderated by Pat Hughes.
  • “Outside the Foul Lines,” featuring Tony Campana, Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto and Randy Wells sharing their personalities and experiences beyond the game.
  • “The Ricketts’ Family Forum,” featuring Ricketts family members Tom, Laura, Pete and Todd discussing their journey as team owners and what they hope to accomplish in the coming years.

To keep up on all the happenings from the Cubs Convention, check back with the Cubs Vine Line Blog all weekend long.

BREAKING NEWS: Cubs icon Santo elected to Hall of Fame

Legendary Cubs third baseman and broadcaster Ron Santo will finally join teammates Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Santo was elected by the Veteran’s Committee in Golden Era balloting, the results of which were announced Monday morning at the baseball winter meetings in Dallas.

Santo, who died from complications of diabetes and cancer a little more than one year ago, was a nine-time National League All-Star and had 342 home runs, 1,331 RBI, a .277 lifetime batting average and five Gold Gloves during his 15-year playing career.

According to baseball analyst Bill James, Santo is ranked as the sixth best third baseman of all time. Read the full press release below:

CHICAGO – Chicago Cubs legend Ron Santo today was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame after being named on 93.8 percent (15 of 16) of the Veteran’s Committee ballots.

Santo, who passed away December 3, 2010, will become the 10th player in franchise history to be elected to the Hall of Fame wearing a Cubs hat, the first third baseman in the 135-year history of the club.  Santo joins Ernie Banks (1977), Frank Chance (1946), Kiki Cuyler (1968), Gabby Hartnett (1955), Billy Herman (1975), Fergie Jenkins (1991), Ryne Sandberg (2005), Billy Williams (1987) and Hack Wilson (1979) as players wearing Cubs hats in the Hall of Fame.

Overall, Santo becomes the 46th person with a Cubs association to earn enshrinement to Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

“All who knew Ron or welcomed him into their homes on the radio recognize he was so much more than a Hall of Fame baseball player.  He was the beating heart of Cubs fans,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts.  “As an athlete, he was our All-Star.  As a radio analyst, he carried our passion. For those battling illness or disease, he remains an inspiration.  And for all of us who had the honor of calling him our friend, he is forever beloved.

“Though it is bittersweet that Ron is not here to enjoy this day, we are comforted by the pride members of the Santo family have for their husband, father and grandfather.  On behalf of the Chicago Cubs organization and all of our fans, we congratulate Ron Santo’s family on this historic day and look forward to his induction next summer.”

A nine-time National League All-Star and five-time Gold Glove Award winner, Santo hit .277 with 365 doubles, 67 triples, 342 home runs, 1,331 RBIs and 1,138 runs in 2,243 games covering 15 major league seasons with the Cubs (1960-73) and White Sox (1974).  He is one of only two third basemen in big league history with at least 300 home runs and five Gold Gloves, joining Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.

Santo ranked among the elite during his 15-season big league career.  Between 1960-74, only four players had 2,000 hits, 300 home runs and 1,300 RBI: Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Billy Williams and Ron Santo.  Additionally, only four players had 2,000 hits and 1,000 walks in that span:  Hank Aaron, Carl Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson and Ron Santo.  Santo’s 342 home runs were the most by any third baseman in his 15-season career, easily outpacing his next closest competitor in Brooks Robinson (248 home runs in that span).

In his 15-year career, Santo finished in the league top 10 in batting average three times, slugging percentage five times, on-base percentage seven times, base on balls nine times, games played eight times, home runs seven times, RBI eight times, runs scored three times and total bases five times.

Overall, Santo had 11 seasons of 20 or more home runs, including four in a row of 30 or more. He had eight 90-plus RBI campaigns, four seasons with at least 100 RBI and ranked in the top 10 in RBI eight years in a row.  Santo was top 10 in RBIs for eight straight seasons.

Santo holds or shares many defensive records for third baseman, including most consecutive National League games at third base (364) and most years leading either league in total chances (nine).

Santo stayed involved in baseball since retiring after the 1974 campaign.  He was an empathetic voice of the fans on WGN Radio for 21 seasons through the final year of his life from 1990-2010.  Santo also helped raise more than $60 million for juvenile diabetes research, through which his legacy lives on.

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