I’ve been to one Cubs Convention in my life, four years ago. At the time, the Cubs were a client of the company I work for (that makes three client mentions in two days), the passes were free, and the Cubs strongly encouraged me and my co-workers to attend since the Convention is such a rare opportunity to see all of the most wild Cub fans in a native habitat.
It was fascinating to watch the Cubs people describe the conventioneers, with a mix of admiration, fascination, amusement, and contempt. In their eyes, many of the fans were foregoing other vacations during the year so they could afford the three-day passes, two nights lodging at the Hilton, and however many broken Ted Sizemore bats or game-worn Jody Davis socks they wound up buying from the souvenir sellers.
“It’s just amazing,” one of the Cubs front office guys explained to us. “(The fans) show up for two nights, and their luggage carts are filled up to the roof. Plus, they’re walking through the lobby of the Hilton, this nice hotel, and they’re carting around toaster ovens they’ve brought from home! You’d think they’re moving into the place.”
The Cubs staff also marveled at the fans’ ability to sniff out anyone who ever wore the blue jersey. They described the frenzy that could be set loose on a crowded elevator as whispers spread that Tarzan Joe Wallis or Luis Salazar had just boarded the car.
Anyway, I went to the Convention on a Saturday morning, and I would say my expectations were met. At the time, my sons were fairly young for that kind of event (9 and 7), and we only stayed a few hours. The highlight was walking through a magnificent traveling exhibit from the Baseball Hall of Fame that featured dozens of actual artifacts from throughout the game’s history. I recall a Babe Ruth jersey, a Ty Cobb bat and a number of pieces that dated back to Honus Wagner. At no point during our time in that exhibit were there more than five people, including the three of us. That’s about 2% of the crowd we later saw waiting in line for Milt Pappas’ autograph.
I’m sure most of the Cub blogs and Web sites will have coverage of this weekend’s convention, if not reports from people who actually attended. I will be content to experience the convention through their eyes and ears.
If I ever get really, really desperate to have Augie Ojeda sign a baseball for me, I figure I can always go on eBay.