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Ben Zobrist Among a 6-Pack of Cubs at Club 400

When it was first announced Ben Zobrist was appearing at a Club 400 event, I initially was going to pass. And then Stewart McVicar, owner of Club 400, announced a couple more Cubs were coming. In all, SIX Cubs would be appearing at the May 2, 2019 event.

The ticket itself is a collector’s item. These are so cool!

Along with the headlining Ben Zobrist, Club 400 welcomed Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, Gary Matthews, Bob Dernier, Randy Hundley, and Ray Burris. What an event! For the cost of a $250 ticket fans were given an autographed World Series baseball of Zobrist…

As well as a copy of “1969 Cubs: Long Remembered – Not Forgotten,” signed by Fergie Jenkins.

Plus, you were up close to Matthews, Dernier, Hundley, and Burris who all signed for fans in attendance.

Since this was my fifth or sixth time at Club 400, the scene of a large event such as this did not take me by surprise as it did some others in line with me at check in. As I headed down to the backyard, my buddy Crawly was making another appearance on the Comcast Chicago show, “Beer Money,” hosted by Kelly Crull and Luke Stuckmeyer.

Later, George Castle played the game with Stuckmeyer. Castle has written numerous books about the Cubs through the years. My favorite is “The Million-To-One Team,” which may have been the first book I actually read (those wonderful yellow Cliffs Notes got me through high school English).

It was a chilly 45 degrees, so I meandered back and forth between the back yard and inside Club 400. Here’s a shot of the bar area.

And the bar is lined with Cubs game-used bats. So cool.

Outside, Beaner’s Mexican BBQ in Hebron, Illinois was offering up some of their fare. Delicious!

Since the weather has not been very cooperative in northern Illinois this spring, a huge tent was in Stu’s backyard, where the main festivities took place.

Randy Hundley, Bob Dernier, Gary Matthews, and Ray Burris had autograph tables set up under the big top. Burris is shown signing here, and you might be wondering why he’s wearing a Phillies shirt. Burris is a roving pitching instructor for the Phillies.

This is what I had Burris sign. Great vintage 1970’s photo. He remarked, “man…look at those lamb chops. The ladies loved the lamb chops.”

“Sarge” Gary Matthews offers a thumbs up to Burris.

I loved the added touch on the table covers using photos of baseball cards. Images from 1987 Topps were used for Dernier and Matthews.

Matthews signed by Unocal 76 photo poster.

Dernier also signed the same Unocal 76 photo poster from the same set.

Dernier is a great guy, and I’ve had the honor to have several conversations with him the past few years. Two years ago at the Cubs Convention I sat with him and his wife for an hour and spent a lot of time talking about Italy (my wife and I later honeymooned in Italy).

After autographs it was photo time. They move the lines nice and swiftly. A professional photographer snaps photos, and they also have a volunteer that will take photos with your cell phone. I really got a kick out of this nice candid shot.

Here’s the more professional looking posed photo.

Following the photos with Zobrist, a Q&A was held. First on the stage was Fergie Jenkins and Gary Matthews (joined by Hundley, Burris, and Dernier) hosted by one half of the Club 400 Podcast, Sir William Gehren.

What makes these events so great is how approachable the older players are. All five stuck around and mingled with fans. Fergie Jenkins even took part in some magic by David Boothe.

All of the proceeds from this event went to the Jacob Keltner family. Kelnter was shot and killed serving a warrant in Rockford, Illinois in March. Keltner was from nearby Crystal Lake, Illinois.

By the way, another big event is coming up this July featuring Willson Contreras. You can count me in! These Club 400 events have raised more than $300,000 for charity. Thank you so much, McVicar family!

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