As the 21st Annual Cubs Convention gets underway today, I thought the CCO should take a look at the past. This is a unique look back at some of the earlier Cubs Conventions that include some UNBELIEVABLE pictures. Just sit back and enjoy this walk down memory lane….
MEMORIES OF CONVENTIONS PAST
The magic of the ’84 team had faded, but that didn’t stop the faithful from filling up the Hyatt Regency for the 4th Annual Cubs Convention in 1989. That may have been the first year to sell out and likely influenced the change to the somewhat larger Hilton Towers thereafter. I can’t locate my paperwork, but I believe a day pass could be had for $5-10, and the weekend pass was included in the hotel package. Today I saw passes averaging about $150 on the resale sites.
That was my first Cubs Convention and thus made a lasting impression. After checking in Friday afternoon, we made our way to the vendor area, where I first realized that I was in Cubs land. My eyes were not prepared for the sea of mature ladies dressed in various outfits of Cubbie blue, replete with Cubs earrings and dozens of Cubs pins stuck on their person. The opening ceremonies were very enthusiastic and photo and autograph sessions followed. Even compared to just a couple years later, the players in ’89 seemed much more approachable, with some seen freely walking around the convention with their families. As we were leaving the area Friday night, we spotted someone sitting off to the edge by himself. It was Vance Law. We casually chatted for a while and had our private photo session (see picture). Vance and Scott Sanderson were two of the ladies’ favorites, and my wife would have been content to end our convention that Friday night after being near both of them.
The overall convention agenda has apparently changed little over the years. Saturday brought the clinic or seminar sessions, and the photo and autograph areas were manned from 9:30am to 5pm. We have not had the opportunity to attend in recent years, but I’ve heard about terminally long waiting lines and the need for a lottery to get access to the most popular players. I recall waiting maybe 25 minutes for the photo session of my choice. The autograph lines seemed somewhat longer and I’ve never appreciated why fans would prefer a scribbled signature to a personal photo memory. Mitch Williams had just signed with the team. One of my favorite pictures (attached) is with the Wild Thing, a then 22 year old Greg Maddux and Harry and Zim. Williams seemed a little different even then, as I don’t recall him cracking a smile the entire convention, including his photo sessions.
Saturday night was the usual rock’n'roll party in the ballroom. Preceding the music, the Cubs players, mostly the rookies such as Joe Girardi, put on some kind of hilarious skit. Forgive me for not being more specific, but my friend Hank and I got an early start to the competition with our neighboring tables in building the tallest beer can pyramid. Periodically during the evening when there was a lull in the entertainment, the thousands present would break out in the “Go Cubs Go” song.
The ’89 Convention was so much fun that we went on to do it again in ’90, ’91 and ’92. I’ve also included a few pictures from that era: Grace, Barryhill and Bilecki from ’90, and in ’91 Santo and the three Bills that won batting titles….Williams, Buckner and Madlock. The ’89 memory was special not just because it was my first, but also for the opportunity to meet some of the players of that season’s surprising division champs. I look forward to attending another convention and would encourage all Cub fans to experience this unique event at least once in their lifetime.
Thank you “Uncle Gerry”!!!!
Don’t forget to check back throughout the weekend for daily recaps from the Cubs Convention here at the CCO. And as always, if any news breaks you will be able to read about your Cubbies here and in ‘Cubs News from the Wire’.