As we approach the 25th Annual Cubs Convention, BCBers who have not attended one may be wondering what it looks like.
I've only been to one convention (2007), so I can't speak to much beyond that year. I took lots of photos and have included some here that can give you a little sense of what's in store starting next Friday.
First off: PEOPLE. Lots of them. EVERYWHERE.
These photos are from the vendor section. Lots of CUBS related items to buy if you have the time and cash. The vendor area also has some food, tables to sit down at, batting and pitching cages for the kids, etc. And did I mention there are CUBS things you can buy? If you aren't careful, you can melt your VISA here.
(Below, note the batting cages in the right background)
You'll find former players here too, like Fergie Jenkins touting his foundation (who's that cute girl with him?) and Pat Hughes at the WGN Radio booth (though the image below is from a panel presentation).
And in the main ballroom and secondary conference rooms there are lots of presentations.
Here's an example of the rundown from the main ballroom on Saturday.
Word of advice: if you want a good seat, get there early for the sessions you really want to attend- OR, camp out in one room for the day (though this can be limiting...). When the rooms reach capacity (seating & standing) they close them. And if you decide to camp out in one room, make friends with someone to watch your stuff when you head out to the bathroom between sessions.
Here's what the panel discussions look like. They involve an emcee (Wayne Messmer, Len Kasper, Bob Brenly, Pat Hughes, etc. ) and current and ex-Cubs sitting on risers in the front of the rooms.
Here are some photos of folks you may recognize.
And what does the room look like to the players, coaches and club staff up at the dais? Like this:
And when the presentations are over, there is a mad stampede to the table for autographs, which looks like this:
If you aren't in the first couple of rows of seating, OR if you are passive about asking for autographs, your chances of getting one go WAY DOWN. At least in THIS venue.
Though I will say that I got baseballs autographed by Rich Nye and Glenn Beckert (above, center and right) with no problem. They were sitting off to the side of the risers after their panel sessions and few people were asking them. It was kind of strange and a little sad as people rushed past them with nary a glance to get to the "bigger" names on the panels. And sadly, this is one of the last photos of Gene Oliver (above, left), who passed away shortly after the 2007 Convention.
In the lower levels of the hotel, there are scheduled autograph and photo sessions with current and past players throughout Saturday & Sunday.
Bring a stool. You'll be standing in line a lot.
But you'll be rewarded with one of these moments:
Autograph sessions with Cubs "Legends" like Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams, Mark Grace, Ron Santo, etc. are only available via lottery. You'll find out when you pick up your convention registration packet. There's a scratch-off card- just like the REAL lotto. Good luck. (I have heard of folks trading and even SELLING their winning cards, so all may not be lost if you are willing to invest some time and wheel and deal)
So there you have it. A brief look at the Cubs Convention 2007. Who knows what 2010 holds?
A couple of other notes: If you are staying at the Hilton, you'll become very familiar with the lobby area in front of the main bank of elevators. Lots of people onsite mean long waits to get to your room. And watch out for the collectors. Many will mow you down in pursuit of their autographs and photos. I think their motto is "the weak will be killed and eaten". I've see them literally knock kids out of the way.
Oh, and don't be surprised to see people (more kids than adults) in sleeping bags in the hotel hallways overnight or early morning waiting for sessions to start.
And lastly, did I mention there is a lot of CUBS stuff to buy there?