The 2012 Cubs Convention kicked off early this evening at the Hilton Chicago! It is my fourth year attending the Convention and with each one comes new story lines a lots of entertainment. The Convention officially started with the Opening Ceremonies in the Grand Ballroom at 5:00 today.
Pat Hughes once again served as the master of ceremonies. He introduced Tom Ricketts, who spoke on behalf of his family and the entire organization. Then Wayne Messmer performed the National Anthem.
After that, Pat introduced Cubs players of yesteryear, minor leaguers, front office personal, coaches, broadcasters and current players one-by-one. There was a warm reception for most. Crane Kenney received the loudest boos. Tom Ricketts and Starlin Castro both received mostly cheers with some boos mixed in, while Alfonso Soriano received about half and half.
After Hughes introduced Randy Wells he waited a moment and then said the words, "We have some breaking news." At that instant 90% of the fans in the room new what was about to happen. They erupted into loud applause and started chanting "Kerry! Kerry!"
"I'd like to introduce the Cubs newest acquisition... and the name does sound familiar. Welcome back Kerry Wood!" Pat finished. The fan favorite signed a one year deal to remain with the North Siders today. Woody's introduction was a very special moment.
This year's ceremonial first pitches of the Convention were tossed out by new Cubs skipper Dale Sveum and president Theo Epstein. After the Convention wrapped up, Cubs fans went on the Autograph Treasure Hunt. Among the people signing autographs were Milt Pappas, Randy Hundley, Eric Young, Milt Pappas, Rick Monday and Jose Cardenal.
WGN Sports Night live from the Convention started at 7:00 and ran until about 9:15. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Tom Ricketts spent the first hour of the show chatting with David Kaplan, Brian Noonan and Andrea Darlas. The trio was very informative and all three will appear during various sessions tomorrow. Dale Sveum, Chris Bosio and Rudy Jaramillo joined the guys for a half an hour, followed by Bob Brenly and Todd Hollandswoth. The remote was rounded out by Bill Buckner from 9-9:15.
Theo Epstein supporters were all over the place today. The Cubs fans are rallying behind their new leader and are excited about his approach. Various t-shirts and signs with Theo slogans were on display today.
This year's Convention is a sell out. The event has been sold out 26 of its 27 years... the only year it did not sell out was last year.
Tomorrow will be a full day of sessions! I'll have a recap tomorrow night!