Results tagged ‘ Cubs Convention ’

1000 Words: #TBT to the 2015 Cubs Convention

Last weekend’s 30th Annual Cubs Convention was enjoyed by thousands of fans who had an opportunity to mingle with members of their favorite team at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers. Whether it was their first convention, or their 30th, most walked away with lasting memories. Though it was only a few days ago, here are some images to remember from the sold-out event:

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Now Playing: An inside look a the 30th annual Cubs Convention

Over the weekend, the Cubs hosted the 30th annual Cubs Convention, a sold-out event at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in downtown Chicago. Thousands of fans got the opportunity to mingle with current, former and future North Siders, in addition to getting autographs and taking in a wide variety of informative panels. Vine Line was there for all the action, from the opening ceremonies, to Cubs Bingo, to Friday Night with Ryan Dempster.

And in case you were unable to attend the three-day spectacle, catch up on what you missed with our panel recaps:

2015 Cubs Convention Panel Recaps:

Ricketts Family Forum
Joe Maddon and His Coaching Staff
#Cubs Social
Down on the Farm
30 Years of Cubs Convention Memories
Cubs Business Operations Update
Meet Cubs Baseball Management
Friday Night with Ryan Dempster

From the Pages of Vine Line: Celebrating 30 years of the Cubs Convention

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The 30th Cubs Convention is in the books. In the January issue of Vine Line, we looked back at how the convention got started and some of the event’s highlights from the last three decades. Check out our recaps of the 2015 panels here on the blog. 

Have you ever been to bingo?” asked Jim Oboikowitch, laughing. “You will think it is insanity. It is so fun. It is so packed.”

Out of context, you’d be hard-pressed to find many 30-somethings who would refer to a retirement center game-night staple as insanity. But Oboikowitch, manager of game and event production for the Cubs, has a very different take on things. His job puts him in charge of the most entertaining weekend of the offseason for North Side fans—the annual Cubs Convention—and one of the event’s centerpieces is always Cubs Bingo.

So while matching numbers and letters might sound a little tame or old-fashioned on the surface, the reality is Cubs fans will do just about anything to grab a game card and get in on the action. And the man in charge has a front-row seat for all the excitement generated by one of the convention’s most popular events.

“[In 2013] at the Sheraton … one door kind of cracked open, and people just started pouring through,” Oboikowitch said. “[Manager of Broadcast Relations] Joe [Rios] was about to get tackled by about 1,000 people. They come running in, looking for a table and grabbing the bingo card. There’s not a seat to be had. They’re sitting in the aisleways.”

For nearly 30 winters, masses of Cubs fans from all over the country have congregated at a downtown Chicago hotel to take part in a weekend’s worth of activities centered around the team they spend their summers supporting. Where else can fans and players share an elevator ride and spark up a conversation? How often do young players get the opportunity to receive instruction from major league talent in the batting cages? And is there any other place you can ask Cubs owner Tom Ricketts a question and snag Gary “The Sarge” Matthews’ autograph in the same day?

While attendance at modern conventions generally nears five digits, there was a time when the club was unsure of what to expect turnout-wise, so they intentionally limited admittance to roughly the number of people who can fit in today’s bingo hall. But that was almost 30 years ago, when the Cubs became the first professional sports team to ever attempt a fanfest and well before the event became an annual institution. Now it’s safe to say they probably underestimated themselves—and the passion of their Cubs-crazed fan base—in those early days.

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The Cubs were hot. In the offseason following their magical playoff run of 1984—the same campaign that snapped a 39-year postseason drought—John McDonough was looking for a way to grow the brand. The then-Cubs sales, promotion and community services director, now the president and CEO of the Chicago Blackhawks, wanted to capitalize on the new wave of fandom that had swept over the club and made its players the talk of the city.

“McDonough’s idea was ‘Hey, this is a great brand. It’s something everyone knows, but we’re only being seen six months out of the year,” said Cubs historian Ed Hartig.

One of McDonough’s first orders of business was to gather a large group of die-hard fans willing to share their ideas for how the organization could grow. They met at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois, and there McDonough collected opinions on how the Cubs could maintain relevance, even in the winter months. This led to the idea of a convention celebrating Cubs fandom.

Sports memorabilia shows were at their peak during the 1980s, which gave McDonough a solid framework for his own concept. After more than a year of brainstorming, the initial Die-Hard Cubs Fan Club Convention opened its doors from Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 1986, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The event was the first of its kind—no other professional sports team had ever dedicated an offseason weekend to celebrating its fans.

“At this time, card shows, autograph shows, those were pretty common,” Hartig said. “But the idea of actually having people mingle with the players and [offering] hitting clinics, that was all new.”

McDonough had no idea what to expect and kept event promotion to a minimum. One of the few places the convention was marketed was in the small “Odds and Ends” section of the Chicago Tribune. The blurb, which was published nearly a year before the event took place, stated what the weekend would entail, when it would take place and where it would be held.

“The only thing they told [fans] was that this wasn’t going to be a card show. This was not going to be an autograph show. This was going to be interactive,” Hartig said. “You’re going to see the players walking out of the hotel. You’re going to see them in the elevator. You’re going to see them at the restaurants. … It was going to be all-access. You were going to be with the players all weekend.”

Nearly 3,000 fans—roughly 1,000 more than expected—packed into the Hyatt in late January 1986 to witness something totally revolutionary. Ryne Sandberg and Rick Sutcliffe hosted hitting and pitching clinics, panels included the coaching staff discussing topics like Spring Training and injury recovery, and President and General Manager Dallas Green was made available for a Q&A session with fans. This was all in addition to memorabilia auctions, raffles, vendor booths and autograph opportunities.

The convention’s special guests included most of the 1985 team and Hall of Famers like Ernie Banks. For many of the players, showing up to that first event was a no-brainer. They understood the work McDonough had put in and immediately grasped what this could mean to the organization in the long haul.

“When [McDonough] created that … as a player I remember, quite honestly, we were open arms because we trusted him,” said former Cubs outfielder Bobby Dernier. “The idea is ‘Look, it’s good for the team, it’s good for the organization, and it’s good for the former players—on top of being good for the current players. So, really, it’s good for everyone.’”

Though Cubs regulars probably enjoy more interaction with their fan base than most other professional athletes—just ask the outfielders about their relationship with the Bleacher Bums—it’s still unusual for them to spend a lot of one-on-one time together. But the athletes quickly learned that the interaction with fans was one of the most enjoyable parts of the weekend.

“Most players would feel that it’s more flattering than nerve-racking,” said former Cubs outfielder Gary Matthews Sr. of the constant flock of supporters. “You’ve got to understand the Cubs fans.”

And for players who didn’t already understand Cubs fans, the convention served as quite the introduction. Former Cubs catcher Michael Barrett came to the team in December 2003 after spending his previous six years playing in the fan-starved Montreal Expos organization. Rios, who was in charge of the convention prior to Oboikowitch, still remembers the backstop’s reaction to the reception he received at his first opening ceremony.

“[Players] get quite a rush from the applause they get from the fans, especially the new ones,” Rios said. “I think of Michael Barrett, who played in Montreal, who played in front of [so few fans], and to come to the convention and have that many or more, and be sweating when they announce it—he was freaked out, and that’s still kind of cool to see.”

Mingling with the fans quickly became one of Dernier’s favorite parts of the weekend. The former center fielder said he’s missed only three of the 29 previous conventions, which puts him “in the 95th percentile” in terms of attendance.

“To be quite honest, I’ve gotten a lot of endearing experiences because I did take the time,” Dernier said. “Whether I sat with a bunch of 13-year-olds at the lobby there or I sat at the bar and had a cocktail with a dozen Cubs fans ready to watch the Bears at the playoff game that afternoon, they were enjoyable experiences.

“Whatever position I’ve been in, to get to come, it’s not a hard arm twist because all it is is just a giant hug waiting to happen.”

For the people in charge of the convention, knowing the players—the de facto entertainment—have an open mind about the event makes their jobs easier and allows a weekend with a high potential for chaos to run a little more smoothly.

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Though the Convention spans only three days in January, it takes a lot longer than that to plan and organize the festivities. Oboikowitch said even during the baseball season, the convention is in the back of his mind. As the 162-game campaign is winding down, he’s in meetings and throwing ideas against the wall for what the next fan weekend will have in store.

“We’re always talking with fans throughout the season and through the offseason about what they might want to see, who they want to see, what activities they want to take part in,” Oboikowitch said. “We start putting together a road map of how we want to program Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

This road map is a jigsaw puzzle of panels, events, autograph signings and meet-and-greets. When it all comes together, it looks like a work of art, but getting things to that point is a painstaking process.

The staff has to juggle player and personnel arrivals (many attendees come from out of town), make sure individuals aren’t accidentaly booked in two spots at one time, and provide fans the opportunity to attend must-see events like the opening ceremony and the Ricketts panel. Despite doing their best not to overschedule the program, Rios said forcing fans to make tough decisions is all part of the plan.

“One thing that fans should realize is we want to make it difficult for them to decide what to do,” Rios said. “Every hour of the convention, day or evening, has something going on. You can be getting five or six different autographs, you can be getting a photo of somebody, you can be in the interactive room learning about pitching, you can be in a seminar with one of our business teams talking about The 1060 Project. … You have to decide what’s important to you.”

But amidst all the commotion, while fans are making those red pill-blue pill decisions, one thing they seldom see is just how busy the players really are. They are constantly moving into private rooms for one-on-one interviews or doing special autograph signings for Cubs Charities.

“We do a lot of behind-the-scenes interviews with players that our broadcast partners will use during the season,” Oboikowitch said. “That’s where you get some of that footage for rain delays and for different pieces when you want to hear a player talk about Jake Arrieta’s season preview. So we do a lot of filming in that time.”

Perhaps the best indication that McDonough hit the ball out of the park on the first try is how little the convention’s format has changed over the last three decades. Certain panels have come and gone, venues have switched (the Hyatt from 1986-90, the Hilton Chicago from 1991-2012, the Sheraton Hotel and Towers from 2013-present), and there are fewer vendors today than in years past. But fans still get the chance to interact with their favorite players through seminars, clinics, autograph sessions and meet-and-greets, just like they did in 1986.

“I think what the fans really like, that I’ve learned from them, is that they just really like having that experience where they get to actually sit down in that little floor lobby with Anthony Rizzo, and he’s signing autographs for the kids,” Dernier said.

Of course, the planning committee is constantly learning from fans, and they fine-tune things every year. In 2015, the Cubs will add a second interactive instructional field with hitting tees and batting cages. They will also pay tribute to the 2007-08 NL Central champion teams with a panel featuring Ryan Dempster, Mark DeRosa, Bob Howry, Jacque Jones and others. Another panel will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the convention and will include regulars like Dernier and Matthews.

The goal is to improve the weekend every year, while still offering the panels and events fans have come to know and love. In other words, rest assured, Cubs Bingo isn’t going away anytime soon.

2015 Cubs Convention: #CubsSocial

From hot stove rumors to fan engagement, social media has become a game changer in sports. Led by Vine Line magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Gary Cohen, this event discussed the role of social media in today’s game from the perspective of Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks, broadcaster Len Kasper, cubs.com writer Carrie Muskat and Cubs communications manager Kevin Saghy.

Over the last decade, the way people obtain information has drastically changed. Instead of receiving a morning newspaper regarding yesterday’s news, information is passed along in up-to-the-minute fashion.

To wrap up Saturday night’s convention, the Cubs introduced a new panel to the fan fest in #CubsSocial. The panel explained how receiving information quickly has altered the way the Cubs operate from a broadcast standpoint to the players themselves.

Saghy explained that through social media outlets like Twitter, he has better connected fans to the organization, with state lines and distance no longer an issue. Using the Cubs’ twitter feed, he is now able to communicate and better interact with fans.

“Social media is a conversation,” Saghy said. “If you want to reach out to the team, we’re out there.”

For Muskat, who started following the Cubs in 1987, the quick-news ways of today has drastically altered the way she works. Mandated to get out 10 tweets (normally accompanied by stories), news is funneled quickly through her various accounts. Despite leading all MLB.com writers in annual tweets in 2014 and having stories read in more than 140 countries, she admits she sometimes likes the old days, where news wouldn’t escape as quickly.
She said she likes the times when she could just hang with the good, vocal managers like Don Zimmer, and take notes with pen and paper. In today’s world, the manager is more guarded, potentially out of fear of saying something that isn’t politically correct. That said, Muskat acknowledges that most of her traffic is due to today’s media tools.
Like most people with Twitter accounts, Hendricks isn’t shy to follow fellow athletes. He said he follows athletes he admires and even obtains some information on the team he represents through social media. The 25-year-old Dartmouth grad doesn’t limit his information gathering solely to sports as he credits Twitter with most of his world and U.S. news info. But as a professional athlete, he typically limits his tweeting to a few times a month, as he’s aware that things could often get taken out of context.
Kasper loves Twitter.
“Twitter is the greatest thing in life,” the Cubs’ TV voice said.
Even though he has nearly 40,000 followers, he believes the biggest point towards his online following is being responsible. Kasper said one of the downsides to the tool is the anonymity the site provides.
“There are things people say to me on Twitter that I know they wouldn’t say to my face,” Kasper said.
He credits the social media evolution for making some of his broadcasts more interesting and is constantly following during games in case a topic is brought up that is suitable for the broadcast not excluding a big trade or a minor league promotion. As Muskat stated, it has been resourceful for players like Miguel Montero, who found out he was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Cubs in early December via his Twitter account.
If you’re looking for more Cubs information, be sure to follow Vine Line at @cubsvineline.

2015 Cubs Convention: Cubs Business Operations Update

In addition to providing an update on the organization’s accomplishments and progress, the Business Operations Update gave fans additional insight into what to expect at Wrigley Field next season. From the overall expansion and restoration of Wrigley Field to the new video board, Cubs executive leadership covered a wide range of important topics related to the 2015 season.

All great plans have minor setbacks. That may be the case for the 2015 plans of the extensive 1060 Project, the stadium-wide renovation of Wrigley Field. During Saturday afternoon’s business panel, a panel that continued its trend of being one of the most attended, the Cubs announced that the bleacher restoration will not be ready for the start of the 2015 season.

The left-field bleachers are expected to be ready in early May while the right-field bleachers hope to be prepared by late May. That said, the new scoreboard in left field will be up and running come Opening Day, while the scoreboard in right field should be ready in May.

Bleacher season-ticket holders have been given three options on their tickets for the first few series: receive a credit on their account, relocation on tickets, or a full refund on the game tickets. Those fans have until the end of January to let the Cubs know of their decision.

“This is about trying to get this project done right instead of cutting corners,” said Carl Rice, the vice president of ballpark operations.

It wasn’t all bad news from the panel, as business president Crane Kenney announced the Cubs have more season ticket holders today than any time in the organization’s history, and could possibly have the most in the league. Season ticket renewals were also at 90 percent.

Though there may be a delay in the 2015 plans, the Cubs’ concourse restoration has actually made 2016 renovation plans ahead of schedule. The 2015 delay has also not slowed plans for new clubhouse construction, which was planned to be finished prior to 2016. The organization plans to work all season long to ensure its completion.

“We’re getting ahead of next year’s project, now,” Kenney said.

In terms of the new video boards, the panel unveiled what types of graphics and images would be displayed going forward. Concepts were divided into five categories: game replays, in-game stats, historical videos of the club, in-season team videos and other scores around baseball. Though the new video boards will be nothing short of state of the art, the Cubs intend to have the text graphics look similar to the historic scoreboard in center field. The Cubs showed simulations as to what the scoreboard would look like on an in-game basis. They’ll combine the classic look with some some full-color animated images. They wanted to remind people the purpose of the boards is to enhance the game-day experience, not detract.

With the new TV deals, some fans are concerned they’ll be blacked out for a vast majority of Cubs games in the near future. Kenney said the team is willing to contact outlets like MLB.TV, should something not be worked out.

2015 Cubs Convention: Joe Maddon and His Coaching Staff

On Nov. 3, 2014, the Cubs hired former AL Manager of the Year Joe Maddon to be the 54th manager in Cubs history. Known as a player’s coach and one of the best, most visionary minds in the game, Maddon brings credibility, personality and more to the North Side. The entire coaching staff covered a number of topics with host and CBS Radio-WXRT personality Lin Brehmer.

Cubs fans enjoy Joe Maddon. The applause after his introduction says as much. As festivities of the Cubs Convention rolled into Saturday, people poured into the Joe Maddon and His Coaching Staff panel to get a first-hand look at the first-year Cubs manager.

“Where’s the fire marshal?” asked Maddon when looking out at the standing-room-only crowd.

Hosted by Brehmer, the staff gave insight in terms of what to expect for the upcoming year. They also answered an array of questions from fans, explained their expectations of the task at hand and had some fun in the process. Some of the highlights included:

“People always run away from expectations,” Maddon said, when discussing the Sporting News’ prediction that the Cubs will win the World Series. “Bring on the expectations, I think it’s great. … Let’s do what Riz wants us to do, let’s win the Central.”

On multiple occasions, the new skipper stated he hadn’t yet filled out a lineup card and that he needs to better evaluate the players on his staff. He did say he got his information from various places, joking he even took some lineup-creating advice from the Tampa Chamber of Commerce while with the Rays. They finished with a 3-2 record.

He also retold his story of his appreciation of Wrigley Field, comparing walking off the pitcher’s mound after a meeting and gazing around the stadium to a view from reminiscent of the movie Gladiator.

New bench coach Dave Martinez, who spent eight seasons as Maddon’s bench coach in Tampa Bay, joked that “if it’s 70 [degrees] or less, he’ll wear that Elmer Fudd hat.

“I’ve heard things like he’s a mad scientist but this guy eats, sleeps, breathes baseball.”

New hitting coach John Mallee said he has an out if the team’s offense fails to live up to expectation.

“If we do well, I’m going to look like genius, if I don’t I’ll blame [new assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske].”

When asked a question regarding pregame rituals, Maddon responded “I don’t have any superstitions, and I hope not to acquire them,” a statement that brought a lot of laughs given the Cubs’ superstition-filled history.

The main aspect Maddon hopes to work on as the team heads to Spring Training is the creation of relationships. He believes a team reacts better to criticism when coaches and players have a better trust between themselves.

2015 Cubs Convention: Friday Night with Ryan Dempster

Former Cubs pitcher and current front office special assistant Ryan Dempster made his comedic debut in front of Cubs fans Friday night. And if his new role with the Cubs doesn’t work out, the fan favorite may have found a second career on stage.

Friday Night with Ryan Dempster wrapped up the first day at the 2015 Cubs Convention. The show resembled a late night talk show, similar to Jimmy Fallon or Jay Leno. His opening monologue got the crowd into the performance and though the show was ultimately very PG, he warned fans early on that there was “no FCC to monitor.”

One of the jokes that got a lot of laughs was when he explained how the Cubs front office was prepping for the idea that Opening Day might be played with minimal fans in the bleachers. He joked that to prepare for the sight, they just turned footage of old White Sox games.

Along with his standup, there were intermission videos describing Dempster’s importance—or lack of importance—in the Cubs front office. One video explained that the former right-hander was a key component in landing his old teammate Jon Lester to come to the Cubs. This notion was quickly shot down by a dismissive Tom Ricketts. In that same video Lester was asked about the host’s role, where his response was simply “Who’s Ryan Desmpster?”

On-stage guests included the likes of baseball president Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and newcomers Lester and manager Joe Maddon.

Prior to Maddon’s arrival, Dempster gave a top 10 reasons the Cubs signed the former Rays’ skipper, with the top reason being “Of all the other managers we tried to tamper with, nobody else called us back,” in reference to Tampa Bay’s initial inquiries that the Cubs may have acquired Maddon without going through proper channels.

During Rizzo’s time on stage, he noted that Jason Hammel is the best-dressed player in the clubhouse, while worst-dressed honors went to Travis Wood. Rizzo also participated in a Home Run Derby, with a few fans walking away with autographed baseballs.

Lester took the stage donning a Dempster jersey and a beer. The host quickly gave him a box of Popeyes Chicken to “make him feel comfortable,” a reference to the infamous Red Sox’s 2011 chicken and beer debacle. The two also joked that Lester, who hasn’t recorded a hit in his major league career, will have to face opposing pitching on a regular basis since the switch to the National League.

Overall, a good time was had by all. Though it’s often not recommended, Dempster might be able to quit his day job.

Be sure to follow us all weekend, as we’ll be blogging many of the panels including the Ricketts Family Forum, Joe Maddon and His Coaching Staff and the Cubs Business Operations Update.

Cubs announce 2015 caravan tour sites

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Late Monday, the Cubs announced the stops for the upcoming 2015 Cubs Caravan tour. The two-day event will start on Jan. 14, at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and conclude on Jan. 15, at Jacob Beidler Elementary School. The annual community outreach tour will feature two buses full of players, coaches and front office personnel.

Later this week, the tour will visit Advocate Children’s Hospital-Park Ridge, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, three elementary schools and the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine base where 200 military service personnel and veterans will be served lunch in partnership with the USO of Illinois.

This two-day program implements Cubs Charities mission to harness the passion of Cubs fans to improve the lives of children and families across Chicago and beyond by providing increased access to sports opportunities and targeting improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk.

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, which receives a significant grant from Cubs Charities to support adaptive sports programming, will kick off this year’s Cubs Caravan. Patients of RIC will have the opportunity to learn drills, play a baseball game, and participate in a Q&A session with Cubs players and coaches.

The Caravan will make a final stop Thursday with a visit to Jacob Beidler Elementary School. This visit will serve as the Caravan’s designated media stop, featuring Cubs players and front office associates painting wall murals, building benches and organizing reading spaces.

The 2015 Cubs Caravan Tour itinerary is as follows:

Attendees (subject to change) include: Laura Ricketts, Joe Maddon, Arismendy Alcantara, Albert Almora, Jake Arrieta, Dallas Beeler, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, Kyle Hendricks, Pierce Johnson, Eric Jokisch, Rafael Lopez, Jason Motte, Mike Olt, Blake Parker, Anthony Rizzo, Zac Rosscup, Brian Schlitter and Ryan Sweeney. Please note players/staff will be split up among the multiple stops on each day.

Jan. 14
6 p.m. — Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago

Jan. 15
9:30 a.m. — Advocate Children’s Hospital, Park Ridge

Bus One
10:30 a.m. — Horace Greeley Elementary School, Chicago
Bus Two
10:15 a.m. — Henry D. Lloyd Elementary School, Chicago

As Group
11:30 a.m. — 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine base, Chicago
2 p.m. — Jacob Beidler Elementary School, Chicago

More than 80 Cubs personalities to attend sold-out Convention

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Weekend passes for the 30th Annual Cubs Convention and hotel packages at the event’s location, the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, are now sold out.

For those who have not booked their rooms, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s too late. A limited number of room packages with weekend passes remain available at the W Chicago Lakeshore Hotel. Cubs Convention room rates include passes at a discounted price of $20 each. For more information or to book one of the last remaining room packages, visit cubs.com/convention.

The 2015 Cubs Convention will feature more than 80 guests, including members of the current Cubs roster and coaching staff, alumni, minor leaguers, broadcasters and team executives who will interact with fans from Jan. 16-18. Guests attending the three-day weekend event will enjoy an updated event layout, more than 100 photo and autograph opportunities, enhanced activities and traditional favorites.

Valet and self parking are available at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, but garage space is limited. The use of public transportation is highly encouraged.

Attendees can visit the Cubs Convention page for the most up-to-date list of confirmed players, coaches, alumni and weekend events.

The list of confirmed guests includes:

Major League Players:
Arismendy Alcantara, INF/OF
Jake Arrieta, RHP
Javier Baez, INF
Dallas Beeler, RHP
Welington Castillo, C
Starlin Castro, INF
Chris Coghlan, OF
Justin Grimm, RHP
Jason Hammel, RHP
Kyle Hendricks, RHP
Edwin Jackson, RHP
Eric Jokisch, LHP
Tommy La Stella, INF
Jon Lester, LHP
Rafael Lopez, C
Miguel Montero, C
Jason Motte, RHP
Mike Olt, INF
Blake Parker, RHP
Neil Ramirez, RHP
Anthony Rizzo, INF
Hector Rondon, RHP
Zac Rosscup, LHP
Brian Schlitter, RHP
Jorge Soler, OF
Dan Straily, RHP
Pedro Strop, RHP
Ryan Sweeney, OF
Matt Szczur, OF
Jacob Turner, RHP
Luis Valbuena, INF
Tsuyoshi Wada, LHP
Travis Wood, LHP

Minor League Players:
Albert Almora, OF
Kris Bryant, INF
C.J. Edwards, RHP
Pierce Johnson, RHP
Addison Russell, INF
Kyle Schwarber, C/OF

Cubs Alumni:
George Altman, INF/OF
Glenn Beckert, INF
Ryan Dempster, RHP
Bob Dernier, OF
Mark DeRosa, INF/OF
Leon Durham, INF/OF
Bob Howry, RHP
Randy Hundley, C
Fergie Jenkins, RHP
Jay Johnstone, OF
Jacque Jones, OF
Les Lancaster, RHP
Jon Lieber, RHP
Ted Lilly, LHP
Bill Madlock, INF
Gary Matthews, OF
Dave Otto, LHP, Broadcaster
Milt Pappas, RHP
Glendon Rusch, LHP
Lee Smith, RHP
Tim Stoddard, RHP
Rick Sutcliffe, RHP
Steve Trout, LHP
Billy Williams, OF
Kerry Wood, RHP

Coaching Staff:
Joe Maddon, Manager
Henry Blanco, Quality Assurance Coach
Mike Borzello, Catching Coach
Chris Bosio, Pitching Coach
Eric Hinske, Asst. Hitting Coach
Brandon Hyde, First Base Coach
Gary Jones, Third Base Coach
John Mallee, Hitting Coach
Dave Martinez, Bench Coach
Lester Strode, Bullpen Coach

Team Executives:
Tom Ricketts, Chairman
Laura Ricketts, Board Member
Todd Ricketts, Board Member
Theo Epstein, President, Baseball Operations
Crane Kenney, President, Business Operations

Baseball Staff/Broadcasters:
Jed Hoyer, EVP/GM
Jason McLeod, SVP, Scouting & Player Development
Randy Bush, Assistant GM
Shiraz Rehman, Assistant GM
Pat Hughes, Radio Broadcaster
Ron Coomer, Radio Broadcaster, INF (2001)
Len Kasper, TV Broadcaster
Jim Deshaies, TV Broadcaster

Special Guest:
Clark, Team Mascot

More than 75 players, coaches and alumni set to attend the 30th annual Cubs Convention

Convention2014

(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Chicago Cubs will host the 30th annual Cubs Convention from Jan. 16-18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. The event will feature new manager Joe Maddon, his coaching staff, players from the current Cubs roster, alumni and prospects. The 2015 Cubs Convention will provide more than 100 photo and autograph opportunities, an updated event layout, enhanced activities and traditional favorites during the three-day weekend.

The Cubs Convention’s Opening Ceremony begins Friday, Jan. 16, at 6 p.m., and will feature player introductions on an elevated runway that will give special VIP access to children 16-and-under. Following the Opening Ceremony, guests will find some of their favorite Cubs and young prospects signing autographs for an exciting Surprise Signing Game. The event’s first day concludes with a special Friday Night with Ryan Dempster show, featuring interviews with Cubs players and coaches, comedy vignettes and interactive games.

Saturday’s program will continue with fan favorites such as the return of Cubs Family Feud and Cubs Jeopardy, which features unique trivia and the addition of fan guests on each team. Saturday also will feature a highly anticipated Joe Maddon and His Coaching Staff session, Meet the New Cubs, an extended For Kids Only Press Conference and a Cubs Business Operations update on the 1060 Project restoration. The evening will conclude with longtime Convention favorite Cubs Bingo, led by Wayne Messmer.

Additional weekend sessions (subject to change) include: The Ricketts Family Forum, A Recent Look Back: 2007-08 Cubs, 30 Years of Cubs Convention Memories, The Future is Bright, Here to Stay, Meet Cubs Baseball Management, Down on the Farm and #CubsSocial.

In addition to the sessions highlighted above, the Convention includes many new and returning activities throughout the weekend for fans:

  • New layouts to the event space will be unveiled, including a dedicated autograph hall, Vendor Alley and two full ballrooms with kids activities—Clark’s Clubhouse and Clark’s Fieldhouse.
  • Clark’s Fieldhouse is a miniature turf diamond that gives kids a fun place to play pick-up wiffle ball games or participate in professional instructional clinics as part of the Baseball Interactive Zone. Cubs players and coaches will pair up with Illinois Baseball Academy instructors to conduct a series of training opportunities for kids of all ages throughout the weekend.
  • A dedicated Clark’s Clubhouse will host mini games, face painting, caricatures, balloon artists, inflatable tee ball and a coloring station.
  • The Cubs Charities room has been moved to the main lobby floor and will again feature a variety of items and opportunities for sale, including private player meet-and-greets, baseballs, ball cubes, autographed mystery balls, 50/50 raffle tickets and grab bags with either a Wrigley Field 100 bobblehead or Ernie Banks statue figurine included. The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation will host a raffle and silent auction as well.
  • Attendees can watch live bat-making demonstrations at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory station or check out game-used and replica bats of past and present Cubs players. In addition, fans can spin a prize wheel, sign up for free museum passes and the opportunity to win personalized Louisville Slugger baseball bats, and find out how they can take home the one-of-a-kind commemorative 30th Annual Cubs Convention bat on display throughout the weekend.
  • Guests can visit a dedicated social media lounge, featuring giveaways, charging stations, an interactive screen and live special guest Q&A sessions throughout the weekend.
  • A variety of Cubs memorabilia will be available for sale or auction from Cubs Authentics, Cubs Charities and a selection of third party vendors.

A limited number of Sheraton Chicago hotel room packages with Cubs Convention weekend passes remain available. Cubs Convention room rates include passes at a discounted price of $20, or passes can be purchased individually without a hotel reservation for $65 per pass plus convenience fees at cubs.com/convention or 1-800-THE-CUBS. Visit the Cubs Convention page for more information and the most up-to-date list of confirmed players, coaches and alumni.

A percentage of the proceeds from the Cubs Convention benefits Cubs Charities. To date, the Cubs Convention has raised approximately $4 million for Cubs Charities.

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