What’s your favorite celebrity experience? As you may know I am a big Chicago Cubs fan, and have been fortunate to meet many former and current Cubs. Most of my interactions have taken place in the past five years after moving closer to Chicago (still 2.5 hours, but much better than four hours through rural western Illinois).
A lot of my player interactions have occurred at the Cubs Convention and Club 400. Since 2015, I’ve been attending the convention and on the first night Kerry Wood and his foundation host a fundraiser at Harry Caray’s. It’s called Woody’s Winter Warmup and has seen several Cubs players work as celebrity bartenders for tips.
As the event matured, and the Cubs started winning, the warmup fundraiser has become less intimate, but is still well worth the price of admission. For this story, we go back to January 2015 at my first event held at Harry Caray’s in Water Tower Place.
My friend, Dave, is an experienced Cubs Convention veteran, and has attended each of the Woody’s Winter Warmups since the fundraiser’s inception in 2012. His advice was to get in line early, and race to the bar where we post up to have front row access to the bartenders.
At that time, it was a tight squeeze to get changed from our Cubs gear into the casual chic clothes for the event. The fundraiser has since encouraged Cubs gear, so it’s a mix of Cubs jerseys and casual chic (I had to look it up – I wasn’t as up to date on my fashion as my wife and I had just started dating). The timing was tough after changing, then either hailing a taxi or walking. I think we walked that first year, and it’s a hike from the Sheraton to Water Tower Place. Still, we were able to get a decent spot in line and bellied up to the bar upon doors opening.
It was a great time, and we had conversations with former Rookie of the Year Ron Kittle of the White Sox. He talked about buying barrels of Jack Daniels ($10,000), and his inventions. One of his inventions is a tool that drops a lime into a bottle of Corona without the mess.
At one point, I turned around and realized I was shoulder-to-shoulder with a recently drafted Kyle Schwarber. He and I briefly conversed over a Bud Light. He was with Pierce Johnson, then a top Cubs pitching prospect.
One of our friends we met through these events, Mary, is a season ticket holder and knows many of the Cubs players personally. Towards the end of the night we visited with her and she was with Kyle Hendricks and Zac Rosscup.
As we approached, Mary introduced us to Kyle and Zac saying, “this is Dave and Beau.” It’s still surreal thinking back as Hendricks reached out his hand and says, “Hey, Beau. I’m Kyle.” It was one of those moments that leaves you speechless and thinking in your head, “yeah…I know.”
Kyle signed a baseball for me, and it’s one of my favorite autographed items because of the story behind it. Most of my Cubs baseball cards don’t have much sentimental value. You buy them, you trade them, etc. Not too many stories. But, with autographs, there can be many stories behind them.
Many of the signed baseballs on my “ball wall” have great stories attached. When friends or visitors take a look they see a bunch of baseballs, but I can share some of my favorite stories behind the signature.