I used to have an ongoing argument with one of my co-workers; which franchise is cooler…Star Wars or Star Trek? Having seen Star Wars (now referred to as Episode IV: A New Hope) three times in the theater as an eight year old, it’s pretty obvious where I stood on the divide. I never had any interest in Star Trek as a kid, although I may have had a toy or two. As I aged, and “Trekkies” and their conventions were labeled as gatherings of basement dwelling nerds, (see the classic William Shatner SNL sketch) I became further entrenched in my Star Wars preference. (In my defense this was prior to the putrid prequels… Damn you, Lucas!) Perhaps I was stereotyping Star Trek fans…but I never planned on attending a convention to validate or refute my preconceptions.
I had also never attended the convention for my favorite baseball team until last year. (I really don’t have a phobia of conventions…I did go to Beatle Fest when I was in college.) However, after authoring a semi-successful (and very well- reviewed) book, I was “chosen” to be a vendor at the 2014 Cubs’ Convention. Unfortunately when you are “chosen”, you still have to pay for the booth and hotel room…but that’s what my accountant is for. It was a great experience, and I came away with three overarching themes for the weekend.
- It was Fun
It was surreal and humbling to be in this place; my booth next to the great Pat Hughes, signing and fortunately selling about 110 copies of my book. The days were long, yet the time flew by as I sat at my booth the entire time, my brothers the beneficiaries of my convention passes to all of the presentations. I loved interacting with the fans, signing my book…people wanting me to sign for them (hence the “surreal” feeling). These types of moments have been the most rewarding part of the book writing experience, just meeting and talking to people.
One family I met was particularly intriguing. They informed me they were close personal friends of the Bartmans. Yes…that Bartman family. Being that I have always been a Steve Bartman sympathizer and never in the least bit held him responsible for the 2003 disaster, (heck…it’s one of the reasons I wrote the book!) I asked if they could get a copy to Steve and they agreed to try. Unfortunately, he declined the offer. Leaving me to wonder if he did not realize my book exonerates him, or that the poor guy is still suffering from shell-shock. If you are out there, Steve Bartman, I would still love to get you a copy!
Other than that missed rare opportunity, the interactions at my booth were wonderful, humbling and just plain fun….and I look forward to it again on Friday, January 16, 2015.
- It was Weird
Okay, here is where the Star Trek connection comes in. I think a portion of Cubs’ fans who attend the convention are the equivalent to Trekkies. I mean this in the nicest way, (Does that sound sincere?) but I felt like I was in an alternate Cubiverse. The outfits: hats that would make Elton John blush, jerseys with names of players who played ten games for the Cubs, and loads and loads of people cavorting in Cubs pajamas. Cubs’ tattoos were also aplenty; in fact, one fellow with the numbers 10, 26, and 14 emblazoned permanently on his shiny dome. (Google it…please)
Yet the weirdest part of my weekend occurred in the men’s room (Insert your own joke). I must warn you, this story borders on the tasteless. If you are easily offended, you may want to skip to the next section. As I was standing at the urinal in one of the luxurious (seriously…they are very nice!) washrooms of the Sheraton, I was startled by an incredible noise emanating from one of the stalls. It sounded…all at once…like a murder taking place, a birth occurring, or some regurgitating an entire marching band. I am NOT exaggerating; it was like nothing I ever heard before or since. (In fact, back to Star Wars…it was a sound possibly reminiscent of what a Wookie’s washroom might sound like). I was honestly frightened, and decided to finish my business and hightail it out of there. Alas…I was too late. The door of the stall flew open like an old western saloon door and out walked an individual I instantly recognized.
I really don’t want to besmirch or embarrass this person too much, so I will conceal his identity as much as possible…and if you don’t want to know, skip ahead to the next section. The man who walked out of the stall was dressed in a full Cubs uniform, is a self-appointed Cubs’ mascot and his name rhymes with Donnie Boo-Boo.
- Pat Hughes is Awesome
I was very excited to find out my booth was located next to the Cubs’ radio play-by-play voice. When he arrived to his booth, I approached him stating, “Mr. Hughes.” He immediately stopped me and said, “Call me Pat.”
Of all the experiences of my initial Cubs’ Convention, my impression of Pat Hughes will always remain the strongest. Even if I were the world’s most proficient writer, I could not do justice to the grace and humility this man showed. Throughout the weekend, he was constantly under siege for photo-ops and autographs…requests that make many celebrities and semi-celebrities run away screaming, as if this is beneath them. “Pat” treated them all as if they were all old friends, remembering many by name, and taking time to engage with each of them. I was truly amazed, and I wish others handled “celebrity status” with the same modesty and elegance. I learned that I should try to emulate Pat in any future endeavors dealing with people, but his is a lofty standard.
The 2015 Convention is almost upon us, and this year should have a much more positive vibe with Joe Maddon, Jon Lester and prospects galore! I highly recommend it if you have the opportunity. I have decided to give it another go this year. I hope to sell some books, meet some people, and hopefully experience all of the weirdness and fun again.