Results tagged ‘ Billy Williams ’
There’s nothing like Opening Day (or Night) to get you excited for the season. The North Siders are coming off a huge offseason, and this was many fans’ first opportunity to see new manager Joe Maddon, prized free-agent lefty Jon Lester, leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler and the rest of the team in person. Plus, the Cubs were the nationally televised, ESPN2 Opening Night affair—the only game on the major league slate—and debuted the new 3,990-square-foot video board in left field. To make things even better, the Cardinals were in town, and it was Lester toeing the slab versus St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright. The house was packed, and it felt like a playoff atmosphere. If you couldn’t be at Wrigley Field Sunday night, Vine Line was there to give you a look at all the Opening Night festivities.
This year, the organization is celebrating the 30th consecutive Chicago Cubs Convention, dating back to “The First Ever Die Hard Fan Club Convention” from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, 1986. This panel gives fans a chance to visit with some of their favorite Cubs of the past as they tell 30 years worth of stories and talk about what it’s like to come back to Chicago each January. The panel, hosted by Wayne Messmer, is comprised of convention regulars Bobby Dernier, Gary Matthews, Lee Smith, Rick Sutcliffe and Billy Williams.
This panel was actually more about reminiscing with a host of Cubs favorites from the 1980s than celebrating the Convention, but it was enjoyable hearing players recount stories about everything from Harry Caray to Ryne Sandberg the prankster.
The event started with a thank you from the players for the fan support and some recollections from Cubs Conventions past.
One of the highlights included when Sutcliffe explained how being a Kansas City guy, his lifelong dream was to play for the Royals. But after his first half season with the Cubs in 1984, his mindset changed largely because of the fan base. Sutcliffe then said he was part of a video that was used in the recruiting of Jon Lester. After the two talked at the convention, the newly acquired free agent said Sutcliffe’s portion about Cubs fans sold him.
Sutcliffe recalls the first Cubs Convention. ‘The phone call came from John McDonough, and this was really John’s idea. This was before sports-talk radio, this was before autograph sessions. … He really wanted to break down the barrier between fan and player.” He also talks about Harry Caray being the first honorary chairman of the convention.
“Something that’s so awesome for me is that everyone remembers me as a Cub,” Smith said.
The panelists start talking about Smith in his playing days. A favorite story from Sutcliffe: After Smith beaned an opposing Mets hitter after a brawl, Smith puts down his glove and offers a challenge to the Mets’ dugout, and they back down.
Sutcliffe talks about the Cubs Convention. The people are still here. “For me, you just get another little piece of what Cubs fans are all about. They keep calling him the big red head, but you take that cap off and there’s no red hair.”
“We’re always in first place at the Cubs Convention,” Messmer said.
All of the panelists agree that what makes playing for the Cubs special is the fan base, and that really came alive when they played in 1984. “I played for a couple of ballclubs, but when I came through here, I have so many fans I remember on a first-name basis,” Smith said.
Next comes the question-and-answer session with fans:
- A fan thanks Dernier for spending time with her kids years ago in the lobby and talking for hours.
- Dernier told a story about a time they were in Montreal and Harry Caray said to him: “Even when ya stink, you look like you’re trying.”
- A fan asked about the panelists’ time with Don Zimmer, and Sutcliffe recounted a story about how Zimmer, who had a tough time as a manager in Boston, emotionally thanked the 1989 team for their efforts. He said he was so disliked in Boston he couldn’t go out to dinner with his family. In Chicago, he was loved because of those guys.
That’s it. Down on the Farm with the Cubs minor leaguers is next on the schedule, and that will close out the 2015 Cubs Convention.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
A short, three-game homestand at Wrigley Field kicks off this Friday, July 11, as the Cubs welcome the Braves to town for a 1960s-themed celebration. Cubs fans can relive one of the venerable stadium’s greatest decades along with Hall of Fame Bears running back Gale Sayers, Rookie of the Year star Thomas Ian Nicholas and Cubs players from the 1960s.
Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines this weekend.
1960s Homestand Recap, July 11-13
Friday, July 11, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 3:05 p.m.
- Promotion: Gale Sayers Bobblehead presented by Comcast SportsNet (first 10,000 fans)
- First pitch: Carl Giammarese, Chicago native and original lead singer of 1960s band The Buckinghams
- Seventh-inning stretch: Former Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers
- Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com
Saturday, July 12, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 3:05 p.m.
- Promotion: Billy Williams Retired Number Flag presented by Wrigley (first 10,000 fans)
- First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Thomas Ian Nicholas, actor from Rookie of the Year
- National Anthem: Derrick Mitchell, Out at Wrigley contest winner
- Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com
Sunday, July 13, Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves, 1:20 p.m.
- Throwback uniforms: Retro 1969 home and visiting uniforms
- Promotion: ‘60s Throwback Cubs Etch-A-Sketch (first 5,000 children)
- First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Former teammates from the late-1960s, including Ernie Banks, Randy Hundley, Rich Nye, Paul Popovich and Ken Rudolph
- Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com
For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.
Despite typical April temperatures in Chicago and a 7-2 loss to the visiting Phillies, the Cubs still managed the kick off the Party of the Century in style. Friday’s home opener began a yearlong celebration of Wrigley Field, which turns 100 years old on April 23. The gametime temperature hovered in the high 30s—and a strong wind made it feel colder than that—but that didn’t stop 38,283 fans from packing the Friendly Confines. Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams were on hand to throw out the first pitch, and Ernie, Fergie and Billy sang the stretch (Sandberg was otherwise occupied with his job as Phillies manager).
Vine Line talked to Cubs players and personnel about Opening Day at Wrigley Field and celebrating the venerable stadium the Cubs have called home for 98 years. There’s no better place to be than Wrigley Field—in April or September.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
As the Jackie Robinson biopic 42: The True Story of An American Legend is released in theaters nationwide Friday, the Chicago Cubs announced they will honor the 66th anniversary of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier on Tuesday, April 16. This historic moment is celebrated league-wide each year on April 15, with all uniformed personnel wearing Robinson’s retired no. 42 in honor of the legendary Hall of Famer.
“We’re happy to join all of Major League Baseball on this historic occasion,” said Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs. “Jackie Robinson is a true American hero, and we are all greatly indebted to his contribution to not only baseball, but to American history and culture.”
Since the Cubs’ home series against the Texas Rangers begins on April 16, the Cubs will honor Robinson during a pregame ceremony, and players on both teams will wear No. 42. Nearly 50 “42” flags will adorn the roof of Wrigley Field during the series.
In addition, the Chicago Cubs will host more than 300 Chicago Public School (CPS) high school baseball players to attend Tuesday night’s game in recognition of the celebration. Several CPS baseball players will be recognized during the pregame ceremony.
As part of the pregame ceremony, Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Billy Williams will both be recognized. Banks shares a special kinship with Robinson as the first African-American to play for the Cubs. Banks considered Robinson a mentor during their time in the majors.
Billy Williams broke into the majors not long after Robinson and Banks, and credits Robinson with being the pioneer who opened the door for all baseball players of color. Williams will share his comments about Robinson and his own personal experience playing in the Robinson-era during the game telecast on Comcast SportsNet.
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., who gave the eulogy at Robinson’s funeral services in Brooklyn, N.Y., and actor John C. McGinley will throw out the first pitches t the game. McGinley, who stars as Brooklyn play-by-play announcer Red Barber in the movie, will also serve as the guest conductor for the 7th-inning stretch.
Following the game, Cubs Authentics will auction a game worn No. 42 jersey signed by all the Cubs players and a flag from the roof of Wrigley Field, with proceeds going to Chicago Cubs Charities.
The MVP awards were handed out Thursday night, signifying the official end of the the 2012 baseball season. But just because Spring Training is still months away doesn’t mean Cubs fans can’t get their baseball fix.
From Jan. 18-20, Cubs faithful will have an opportunity to meet more than 50 current and former players, coaches and front office associates at the 28th annual Cubs Convention. For the first time in the event’s history, it will be held at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers at 301 E. North Water St., and it promises to deliver all the fun and excitement of previous years.
Some of the headliners expected to attend this year include Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams; current stars Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson and Jeff Samardzija; and front office personnel like Dale Sveum, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
Individual weekend passes for the event went on sale earlier this month, and there are still some available. Each pass is $60 plus convenience fees. To purchase your pass, visit cubs.com or call 1-800-THE-CUBS.
Guests can also still book rooms at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers by calling the hotel at 800-233-4100. Ask for the Cubs Convention rate of $179/night plus tax. Guests who book a two-night stay will receive a limited edition, authenticated, autographed photo of Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson.
The convention will run from 1-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m-midnight Saturday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit cubs.com.
CHICAGO—Win or lose, nothing beats Opening Day at Wrigley Field. Though the Cubs were unable to finish off Ryan Dempster’s 10-strikeout Opening Day gem, falling 2-1 to the Nationals, the excitement over the 2012 team was palpable. The Wrigley faithful packed the streets by 8 a.m. to check out the new offerings at the Friendly Confines, including the LED scoreboard in right field, the Budweiser Patio, and the Cubs Store on the corner of Clark and Addison. Vine Line was there along with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Hall of Famer Billy Williams and Manager Dale Sveum to kick off the baseball season in style.
The New Year signals a new era for Cubs faithful. We’ve got a new front office, some new players and a new reason to celebrate.
The first Vine Line issue of 2012 salutes the life and career of Cubs great and newly minted Hall of Famer Ron Santo. Thanks to a vote from the Veterans Committee, the iconic third baseman finally earned his rightful place alongside teammates Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams in Cooperstown. Baseball Prospectus’ Jay Jaffe explains why the nine-time All Star and five-time Gold Glover not only deserved his enshrinement long ago, but also might be the sixth or seventh best third basemen of all time. Vine Line subscribers also get a one-of-a-kind, commemorative tear-out poster of Santo and his Hall of Fame teammates.
Although the weather might be a bit chilly for baseball, we also get back on the field in this issue with a look at the Cubs first moves of the Hot Stove season, the signing of outfielder David DeJesus and the trade for third baseman Ian Stewart. These moves say a lot about what the new Cubs brain trust values and where the team is headed in the future.
“I tend to like [well-rounded] players. The totality of their contributions can be equal to or more than the player who does one thing extremely well,” Epstein said. “If we have a club full of well-rounded players, we’re going to far exceed the expectations because the subtle contributions really add up.”
Finally, Cubs.com’s Carrie Muskat talks to right-hander Andrew Cashner about what he’s doing this offseason to prepare the help the team in 2012. After an injury plagued 2011, Cashner is feeling strong and ready to go–no matter which role the Cubs ask him to play.
You’ll find these stories and more in our January issue. If you want to be part of all the exciting Cubs action in 2012, subscribe to Vine Line today. And watch for our minor league prospectus issue in February, profiling the top talent rising through the Cubs farm system.
Editor Michael Huang sat down with general manager Jim Hendry to ask him the questions fans are clammoring to know: What moves does Hendry plan to make in order to avoid completely rebuilding? How does he evaluate the progress at the minor-league level? What does he think of Mike Quade’s performance in the manager’s seat?
The story gives a lot of insight into where the Cubs are headed this off-season.
You’ll also find recaps of the Andre Dawson and Billy Williams ceremonies held at Wrigley Field over the past few weeks, including exclusive photography from Stephen Green. And if you’ve ever been interested in knowing how the pros chart pitches from scout’s row, you’ll find a Cubs CrossOver walking through the fundamentals and purpose of logging every pitch a Cubs hurler throws.
To subscribe or preview more of Vine Line, visit our landing page on cubs.com.