Results tagged ‘ Lee Smith ’

2015 Cubs Convention: 30 Years of Cubs Convention Memories

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.

Former Cubs come up short on Hall of Fame ballot

SOSA S

(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)

Living the dream

fantasy camp anthem.JPGThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgLee Smith was puzzled when Joan Janssen needed to take a timeout from a bullpen session to grab something from her purse.

“Wait a minute,” Smith said. “I got a relief pitcher with a purse?”

Mutual interest between Cubs legends and everyday fans defined the inaugural Chicago Cubs Fantasy Camp that took place Aug. 8-9 at Wrigley Field. On the 8th, campers had signed one-day contracts with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.

fantasycampcontractsign.JPGSmith joined Randy Hundley, Billy Williams, Rick Sutcliffe and Ernie Banks to show 32 camp participants the basics of hitting, pitching and fielding before the campers split up into four teams and faced off tournament-style.

“There’s a lot of ability here,” Sutcliffe said. “There are some guys out here that are ready to get after it.”

Team Williams beat Team Banks 15-3 to take the day’s crown. Frank Cascella (below) was Team Williams MVP and Overall MVP.

cacella2small.jpgCascella, who moonlights as a Wrigley Field tour guide on the weekends and won his ticket from a radio show contest, was nevertheless blown away when he stepped “between the foul lines” on Monday morning.

“I didn’t want to say this to my wife, but it was up there with my kid being born for sure,” he said. “One of the best feelings ever… I had to fight back some emotion.”

The camp’s youngest player, 11-year-old Brian Brady (above with Hendry), was named the Defensive Player of the Day. 

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AJ Karstens, who hit the day’s only homer, was Team Banks MVP and the Long Ball Award winner. Josh Silver was Team Sutcliffe MVP while Chris Donaldson took the award for Team Smith.

Chatting with and learning from old pros was a treat for the campers.

“It feels so easy,” participant Chris Donaldson said. “The staff just makes us feel like we’re ballplayers. That’s all we could ask.”

Members of the triumphant Team Williams squad all were rewarded with bats engraved with their names. Tim Creed wrapped up his experience with a phrase uttered many times during the day: “It’s a dream come true.”

–Joe O’Donnell

Blackhawks fever!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgIt was a long homestand, and the Cardinals took 2-of-3 after the Cubs took 2-of-3 from the Dodgers. But one thing was for sure: The Chicago Blackhawks were offering the entire city positive energy in their chase for the Stanley Cup, and they brought it to Wrigley Field.

Last Tuesday, after they had made quick work of the San Jose Sharks, several of the players were at the game and chatted up Cubs left-hander Tom Gorzelanny.

In the stands (left to right) Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brian Campbell and Adam Burish, all sporting their playoff facial hair in true lumberjack style.

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Burish and Gorzelanny (below, left) struck up a conversation right before the game started.

 

blackhawks2small.JPGThen they all watched as Cubs legend Lee Smith helped conduct the 7th-inning stretch.

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And as an added bonus, international kung-fu film star Jackie Chan (below) threw out the first pitch with rookie James Russell catching him.

–Mike Huang

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