1/8 Cubs Convention kicks off Friday

Many Cubs fans will get their first chance to talk to Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Dale Sveum and many of the newest players at the 27th annual Cubs Convention, which opens Friday at the Hilton Chicago. Opening ceremonies will begin at 5 p.m. CT in the Grand Ballroom.

Players scheduled to attend include Starlin Castro, Marlon Byrd, David DeJesus, Ian Stewart, Chris Volstad, Travis Wood, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Marmol, Darwin Barney, Tony Campana, Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur and Josh Vitters. In total, more than 80 current and former members of the Cubs, coaches and prospects are scheduled to interact in the three-day fan fest.

After the opening ceremonies Friday, there will be the Autograph Treasure Hunt, Cubs Bingo and a chance to sit in on WGN Radio’s live two-hour broadcast of “WGN Sports Night” featuring some of the players and staff.

On Saturday, Epstein, the new president of baseball operations, will kick off a “Behind the Scenes” seminar at 9 a.m. CT in the Grand Ballroom, followed at 10 a.m. CT by “Meet Cubs Baseball Management” featuring Sveum, Hoyer and assistant GM Randy Bush in the Continental Ballroom.
Additional Saturday sessions include:

* “Player Development: From the Dominican Republic to Mesa,” featuring Starlin Castro, Welington Castillo and Jeff Samardzija discussing their experiences in the Dominican Republic and Mesa, AZ, as well as front office leadership providing an update to the progress of each site.

* “From the Field to the Booth,” featuring host Dave Otto talking with Bob Brenly, Todd Hollandsworth, Gary Matthews, Keith Moreland and Rick Sutcliffe about the benefits and challenges of taking the player perspective to the broadcast booth.

* “For Kids Only Press Conference,” presented by Advocate Health Care, with Darwin Barney, Tony Campana, Reed Johnson, Todd Walker and newcomer David DeJesus facing questions from a room of pint-sized reporters.

* “Ron Santo: Beyond the Game,” featuring host Pat Hughes talking with widow Vicki Santo, son Ron Santo Jr., and friends and teammates Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley and Billy Williams about the late broadcaster and third baseman and his recent Hall of Fame election.

* “Coaches’ Den,” featuring Sveum, new bench coach Jamie Quirk, new pitching coach Chris Bosio, new first base coach Dave McKay, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and bullpen coach Lester Strode discussing their coaching philosophies, moderated by Bob Brenly.

* “Outside the Foul Lines,” featuring Tony Campana, Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto and Randy Wells sharing their personalities and experiences beyond the game.

* “The Ricketts’ Family Forum,” featuring Ricketts family members Tom, Laura, Pete and Todd discussing their journey as team owners and what they hope to accomplish in the coming years.

* “When Super Fans Unite,” a session dedicated to the fans and their questions targeted to members of the legendary 1984 team, including Bob Dernier, Gary Matthews, Keith Moreland and Lee Smith.

* “The Scouting Formula,” featuring Jason McLeod, senior VP of scouting and player development; Oneri Fleita, VP of player personnel; Tim Wilken, director of amateur scouting; and Joe Bohringer, director of professional scouting, discussing their secrets behind scouting and player development.

* “Meet Cubs Business Management,” offering a look toward the future of the Cubs and Wrigley Field with Crane Kenney, Cubs president of business operations; Wally Hayward, executive VP, chief sales & marketing officer; Mike Lufrano, VP of community affairs; Carl Rice, VP of stadium operations; Colin Faulkner, VP of ticket sales; Alex Sugarman, VP of business development; and Jahaan Blake, director of fan experiences.

Saturday’s programs will conclude with a live two-hour broadcast of WGN Radio’s Sports Central from 4-6 p.m. CT, featuring a variety of current, former and new Cubs players. Guests can then head over to the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Revue” for a night of dancing, singing and plenty of laughter during a live show from Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press.
* On Sunday, the sessions include “Down on the Farm,” which highlights each team in the Minor League system with players  Jeff Beliveau, Brett Jackson, Junior Lake, Matt Szczur and Josh Vitters. Former Cub Shawon Dunston and his son Shawon Dunston Jr. will be joined by Bob Brenly and his son, prospect Michael Brenly, and Cubs scout Keith Lockhart and his son, prospect Daniel Lockhart, to discuss the pros and cons of “The Father-Son Connection” in Major League Baseball.
Among the new activities this year:

*  The LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is a LEGO building area that will feature Master Model Builder Jayson Mueller as he constructs impressive creations, shows different building techniques and answers questions from fellow builders of all ages.

* The Best Buy Experience will allow fans to try their hand at a number of gaming consoles with the latest sports titles; discover their musical talents at an interactive DJ station; and connect at a computer cyber bar and charge their mobile devices.

* The Baseball Interactive Zone, hosted by Illinois Baseball Academy, provides an opportunity for fans to learn a few tricks of the game in a live setting. Professional instructors and special Cubs guests will give lessons to fans of all ages in designated areas for baseball skills, batting and pitching.

Proceeds from the Convention benefit Chicago Cubs Charities.  The Cubs Convention has helped generate more than $4 million for charity since its inception in 1986.

— Carrie Muskat 


Rizzo tweeted that he’ll be there?

Any update on Castro’s questioning?

Wow! Congratulations to whomever put the convention together–unlike any baseball gathering for fans that I have ever been around. Insight unlimited! I will be there.

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