Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 1 at the Hilton

Just finished the first day of the Cubs Convention here at the Hilton Chicago. Wow, what a day!

After checking in, getting my full schedule of events and convention pass, winning the autograph scratch off (Carlos Zambrano!), and grabbing my two Cubs grab bags ($30 each- one included an autograph, Andrew Cashner, other stuff in the bag included a Cubs lunch pail, notebook, 2009 Cubs media guide, a stuffed animal, Cubs believe bracelet, some pencils, t-shirts, and hats/visors) I moved on to the Opening Ceremonies in the Grand Ball Room.

The ceremonies were great. They are always my favorite part of the amazing weekend. Pat Hughes, the voice of the Cubs, came to the mic and said the words we've been waiting all winter to hear, "Chicago Cubs baseball is on the air!" Then, the Ricketts family was introduced. Tom said that he and his siblings are looking forward to Opening Day. Up next, Wayne Messmer performed his booming rendition of the National Antheme. Finally, the large crowd got to meet the Cubs of year's past. Pat introduced all of those guys, but then asked, "Are you ready to meet some legends?" before announcing the bad news, that Ron Santo is a little under the weather. Ronny wrote a great letter to the fans, which Pat read. Other "legends" introduced include Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins, and lastly the newest member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, Andre Dawson. After the former Cubs were out, Hughes read the names of the 2010 Cubbies. Crane Kenney and Jim Hendry received mixed reactions, but most of the other guys got nice cheers. Carlos Zambrano, the last Cub introduced, received one of the biggest and loudest rounds of applause of the night. The Ricketts family received the honor of tossing out this year's ceremonial first pitches. Next, WGN-TV unveiled their annual video. This year the highlights of 2009 were followed by highlights of the Ricketts press conference, Andre Dawson's HOF announcement, highlights of the first 25 Cubs Conventions, and finally the 2009 Take Me Out to the Ballgame reel. The singing of Go Cubs Go, for the first time of hopefully many in 2010.

On the way out of the Opening Ceremonies, we received an autograph treasure hunt map. The treasure hunt was fun! I got Dempster, Dernier, Johnstone, Cashner, & Moreland, among others, to ink their name.

Day one concluded with "Sports Central Live" hosted by David Kaplan, which was live on WGN Radio. Kap, who had a scratchy throat due to illness, brought in co-host Ryan Theriot, who doubles as the Cubs starting short stop. The two hour program was very interesting and entertaining. Guests included Dempster, Lilly, Sutcliffe, Ricketts, Hendry, Fleita, Lou, Jaramillo, Rothschild, and Marlon Byrd. Marlon showed up late, but made up for it by staying late after the session (which was the last of the show) to sign autographs for many fans. Byrd gave me a good first impression by signing a lot and chatting with me and other fans. I'll have a full recap of the Sports Central show next week!

What a day! And it's just the start.... tomorrow will be a full day of Q&A sessions!

I'll have another recap up tomorrow night!

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