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Cubs Convention offers unique fan opportunities

CHICAGO -- Cubs players past and present will join the coaching staff and Minor Leaguers at the 28th Cubs Convention Jan. 18-20 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. The event will feature more than 100 photo and autograph opportunities for fans.

The opening ceremony will be Jan. 18 at 5 p.m. CT when current players and Cubs alum are introduced on a red carpet runway that will provide special VIP access to children 16 and under. After the festivities, there will be an autograph hunt game, and the first day will conclude with "Cubs Bingo."

Saturday's schedule includes "Cubs Jeopardy," which will pit pitchers Milt Pappas, Scott Sanderson, Lee Smith and Rick Sutcliffe against position players Jose Cardenal, Jody Davis, Randy Hundley and Todd Walker. "Cubs Family Feud" will make its convention debut with former players Bobby Dernier, Jon Lieber, Gary Matthews and Billy Williams taking on current Cubs Michael Bowden, Shawn Camp, Brett Jackson and Ian Stewart.

Fans will have a chance to meet the team's offseason acquisitions at a "Meet the New Cubs" session featuring pitchers Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Edwin Jackson, catcher Dioner Navarro and outfielder Nate Schierholtz, hosted by television play-by-play broadcaster Len Kasper and his new partner, Jim Deshaies.

Other Saturday sessions will include:

• Ricketts Family Forum: Tom, Laura, Pete and Todd Ricketts will talk about their experience as the Cubs owners over the last three years and take questions from fans.

• Meet Cubs Baseball Management: Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, will be joined by general manager Jed Hoyer, assistant general managers Randy Bush and Shiraz Rehman and manager Dale Sveum to talk about the team's recent moves and what lies ahead.

• From Draft Day to the Big Leagues: Minor League prospects Dallas Beeler, Matt Szczur, Robert Whitenack and Tony Zych will discuss what it's like to get drafted by the Cubs and advance through the system.

• Dale Sveum and the coaching staff: Sveum and his staff will talk about the team and answer questions.

• For Kids Only Press Conference, presented by Advocate Health Care: Kids will get to play reporter and ask players questions. The panel will feature Darwin Barney, David DeJesus, Brooks Raley, Anthony Rizzo and Chris Rusin.

• Renew Wrigley Field: Cubs executives will discuss ideas to preserve and renew Wrigley Field based on input from Cubs fans, season ticket holders and the community.

• Not for Women Only: Baker, Feldman, Matt Garza, James Russell and Travis Wood will discuss their personal lives off the field.

• WGN Radio's Sports Central: WGN Radio's Jim Memolo and Glen Kozlowski's live broadcast will feature segments with DeJesus and Garza; Barney and Jeff Samardzija; Tony Campana and Starlin Castro; and Jackson, Jackson and Rizzo in a live broadcast.

Sunday's program will include two sessions to close out the convention, including "Down on the Farm," in which Jason McLeod, senior vice president of scouting and player development, plus pro scouting director Joe Bohringer, and director of player development Brandon Hyde will talk about the Minor League system. They will be joined by prospects Chris Rusin and Josh Vitters.

Kasper and Deshaies will lead a discussion called "Stat Sundays," which will offer insight into the statistics they analyze and feature during Sunday Cubs broadcasts.

On Saturday night, families can snack on popcorn and watch the movie, "Rookie of the Year." Kids will be able to practice batting, play pick-up wiffle ball games, or participate in clinics at "Walgreens Field," part of the Baseball Interactive Zone. Cubs players and coaches will pair up with Illinois Baseball Academy instructors to conduct a series of training opportunities.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago will give fans the chance to test their play-by-play broadcasting skills in a custom-built Fantasy Broadcasting Booth. Guests can call a pre-recorded play in the booth, then download a copy of their work to keep.

MLB Network's Strike Zone will allow fans to test their arm speed and win prizes at an inflatable speed pitch. will sponsor a "Bucks on the Pond" trivia game that combines contestants' knowledge with Major League Baseball, and the chance to win some money. You'll also be able to play "MLB 12 The Show" at the Sony PlayStation Gaming Zone.

Fans also can learn about or contribute to the history of the Cubs in collaboration with team archivists. Historical pieces of memorabilia will be on display, and guests can receive professional tips on how to preserve their own keepsakes. Attendees are invited to share their personal stories with a video crew, which may be used in future promotions or publications.

The team also is accepting founding donations to the Chicago Cubs Archives. Assets will not be appraised for monetary value or purchase. The Cubs are seeking photographs; uniforms and equipment, such as jerseys, gloves, bats and balls; ballpark and grounds materials such as seating charts and employee uniforms; banners and flags; game day and event tickets; commemorative objects, such as bobbleheads and hats.

Limited individual weekend passes are available for $60 per pass plus convenience fees. A percentage of the proceeds from the Cubs Convention benefits Chicago Cubs Charities. To date, Cubs Convention has raised approximately $4 million for Chicago Cubs Charities.

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