Day one is in the books at the 2006 Cubs Convention and the long Saturday lay ahead for Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker. What will the Cubs Faithful throw at the 2 of them? Derrek Lee threw out the first ball and here is the rest of Friday….
Forty year old men in full Cubs uniforms, seven year old girls rattling off Mark Prior’s stats from 2003, people from all over begging for one minute with Pat Hughes and a twenty-six year old male being more interested in a 30 minute conversation with Bob Dernier than any woman he has met for months….Day ONE of the Cubs Convention. So maybe there has been an awesome woman or two lately, but those 29 minutes I spent with Bob Dernier this evening were absolutely unforgettable. I had just returned to Buckingham’s, an open-air bar in the Hilton lobby, from the Southwest Exhibition room where I had my picture taken with Andre Dawson. YES, that Andre Dawson, number 8, the 1987 National League MVP, and my childhood hero. Every little boy focused on one player’s baseball cards. My friend Craig chased down as many Wally Joyner cards as he could find; for me, it was the Hawk, Andre Dawson.
The half hour I spent with Mr. Dernier this evening was remarkable. The first half of the “Daily Double”, Bob Dernier and Ryne Sandberg, among others, willed the Cubs to the Eastern Division championship in 1984. I asked Bob about being invited to Ryno’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony last summer and he said, “It was one of the greatest honors of my life.” Mr. Dernier spoke of Ryne Sandberg in a tone rarely used by human beings. Basically, in his eyes, Ryne Sandberg is one of the greatest people that he has ever known.
Back to the details, the convention kicked off in the main ballroom with introductions. Pat Hughes emceed the event and introduced Cubs legends and players, past and present. As I expected, both Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker received a few boos, but mainly a nice applause. The crowd went crazy when Hughes introduced Carlos Zambrano; however, it was nothing compared to Pat Hughes saying, “Could this be his Cy Young Year? –Cubs Pitcher, Mark Prior!” That was the type of ovation I have not heard for awhile. Miguel Tejada is a heck of a shortstop, but don’t get confused, the Cubs Faithful worship Prior. Though this was all enjoyable, the house came down when Wayne Messmer led the crowd in a rendition of “Happy Birthday” for Mr. Cub, the immortal Ernie Banks.
Tonight, I saw over one hundred people in line waiting for Mike Bielecki’s autograph. Sure he has been on a post game show or two, but it has been over 16 years since he dominated the San Francisco Giants in Game 2 of the 1989 NLCS. That sums up the Cubs convention, Cubs fans from all over the globe replaying the good times, the great times, the times they thought, “Maybe THIS is the year!” Well my friends, it IS a new year!
Stay Classy Cubs Fans