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Monday, December 4

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Cubs Mon Jan 17 2011

Cubs Convention Starts 2011 With Sea of Blue

Thumbnail image for cubs.gifThe calendar says January, but for Cubs fans at the Chicago Hilton on Friday night, thoughts of spring and summer filled the air. A sea of blue filled the grand ballroom as Cubs radio broadcaster Pat Hughes emceed the opening ceremonies for the 2011 Cubs Convention. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts addressed the crowd with a sense of optimism for 2011.

"Unfortunately 2010 wasn't so great on the field," Ricketts said. "Last year we saw the emergence of several very talented young players and by the end of last season we were playing baseball as well as anyone in the league.

"As we look forward to 2011 we look forward to bringing that momentum from the end of last season into next season," he said. "In addition to that we've added key players that are going to play significant roles on our team next year."

For a first timer the experience can be a bit overwhelming to say the least. It is an experience unlike any other. If you think Cubs fans are passionate about their team, you haven't seen anything until you attend the convention. If there were was any ill will left over from 2010 you wouldn't know it as Cubs fans both young and old had smiles on their faces -- smiles that accompanied that familiar sense of optimism that seems to be renewed at the convention.

The convention offers fans a wide variety of activities ranging from games, Q&A sessions, autograph signings and photo sessions. Additionally there are a number of presentations that give fans an inside look at life in the big leagues on and off the field. There is also a plethora of Cubs merchandise and souvenirs available.

While this event is usually a joyous celebration it was marred by the Dec. 3 passing of Cubs legend Ron Santo. Ricketts announced Friday the team will honor the beloved former third baseman and broadcaster with a statue on Aug. 10.

After honoring Santo with a moment of silence, the Cubs introduced a host of ex-players, including Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Bill Buckner, Doug Glanville and Todd Walker. Then there were the members of the 2011 team. Some of the biggest cheers came for Carlos Zambrano, Starlin Castro and the two newest Cubs, Carlos Pena and Matt Garza.

However, they would pale in comparison to the rousing ovation that prodigal son Kerry Wood received. It was one that nearly blew the roof off the grand ballroom. Flash bulbs popped and chants of, "Kerry, Kerry, Kerry" became almost deafening.

Cubs fans are always optimistic and there is no greater sign of that than the sizable turnouts each year at this convention. Few baseball experts are thinking of the Cubs as 2011 title contenders, but their diehard fans will forever keep the faith.

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