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The 34th Annual Cubs Convention Review

This year marked my fifth Cubs Convention, and it is a whirlwind of a weekend. The best part of it has become running into fellow Cubs fans you meet that you see every year.

My travel to the Sheraton in downtown Chicago was the smoothest trip in the five years of attending the convention. I drove from Madison, Wisconsin to Harvard, Illinois to board the Metra. Once I arrived at the Metra station I paid for overnight parking for the weekend and the train was waiting. A few minutes later we were off.

As soon as I walked out of the train station I hailed a cab and walked straight from the door into the awaiting taxi. He dropped me off at the Sheraton, and as I walked in my buddy and roommate for the weekend, Dave, had just checked in and we ran right into each other. Perfect timing, and a great start to Cubs Convention weekend.

After checking in, the first thing I do is head down to the vendor area and check out the Cubs Authentics booth. They sell all sorts of game used pieces like jerseys, bats, hats, cleats, bases, etc. In all honesty, their selection has really gone downhill since the World Series. And prices have gone way up! There wasn’t much I was interested in, but I did pick up a locker nameplate of Jeimer Candelario.

My favorite vendors were not set up, either. There has been one vendor who sells a bunch of random old stuff. It looks like a junk table because it’s surrounded by pretty and expensive framed autograph jerseys and the like. Another vendor that wasn’t there would have binders and binders of 8×10 photos from players from the 1960s to today. Bummer.

Then it was off for an afternoon lunch at the Billy Goat Tavern. This has become a Friday afternoon tradition.

Opening ceremonies start at 6:00, so we headed up around 5:30 to a packed house. I was able to get into the main ballroom…barely. Just a step inside the door at the back of the room. This was expected, as the line begins hours before. After opening ceremonies we change and head over to Harry Caray’s for Woody’s Winter Warmup. You can read all about it HERE.

For the first time at Cubs Convention, I was lucky enough to pull an autograph voucher. All of my previous attempts have been the old $5 off at the Cubs team store. My pull was Cole Hamels, whom I need in my autographed baseball collection.

I used to attend some of the panel discussions, but have opted not to attend the past couple years. I stand in autograph lines and wander around. I’ll peek in sometimes. While I did miss out on some players autographs Saturday, it was a pretty good day. After the Hamels signing, I was able to get downstairs to have Les Lancaster sign an 8×10.

Next was to tackle my autograph strategy. After acquiring the convention program, I will map out who I need for autographs and plan according to the schedule. Well, I didn’t really stick to my plan, and honestly don’t know why on some of it. Sometimes it’s based on length of line. My targets in the 11:00 hour were Alec Mills and Steve Cishek, but the Cishek line was super long. I went downstairs and got Sean Marshall on a baseball.

I was able to double dip and also get an 8×10 signed by Bob Howry.

As expected the 12:00 Daniel Descalso line was extremely long. Dave Otto and Tim Stoddard were doubled up so that’s where I headed first and got an Iowa Cubs 8×10 of Otto signed.

And a Tim Stoddard baseball.

Downstairs I was able to grab Randy Wells on an 8×10.

Kendall Graveman was my 1:00 target and his line was surprisingly short. He was very engaging and asked me a couple questions (where I’m from, if I’m a Packers fan). He signed a baseball for me.

The Randy Rosario line was long, and I think I got him on a baseball last year. This was my time to wander. In the 2:00 hour I got an Augie Ojeda baseball signed.

In the 3:00 hour I had Brian McRae sign a baseball.

Larry Biitner signed a baseball, too. I missed out on a Biitner autograph last year.

My top targets this weekend were a pair of members of the 1969 Cubs: Paul Popovich and Rich Nye. The duo were signing in the same line so I was able to pick them both off on baseballs. Here’s Popovich.

Here’s Rich Nye.

During the last signing hour of the day I got Todd Haney on a baseball.

And Gene Hiser on a baseball.

This was my second year of skipping out on bingo. I just despise standing in line shoulder to shoulder for two or more hours. It was bittersweet, as I saw this tweet of my Club 400 cohorts.

Three more autographs were picked off in the hotel lobby. First, was another Brian McRae baseball.

My first autograph of Jason McLeod.

And a signed Jon Lieber card.

Sunday is a slow day at the Cubs Convention. The autograph lines can be hit or miss in terms of length. This year some were unexpectedly long, and others really short. The Steve Trout line was surprisingly long.

Trout was my target for the day. Last year, he bought pizza for a few people that were in his autograph line and I was able to get a goofy picture of us posing during our “pizza party.” Trout signed an 8×10 for me.

Then I jumped into Augie Ojeda’s line and got an 8×10 signed.

Mike Fontenot was my next target and he signed a baseball.

Finally, I had some cards of Larry Biitner and he was gracious to sign all three for me.

Once again an absolute blast at Cubs Convention. I would say I can’t wait until next year, but now I am excited for spring training and opening day!

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