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The Chicago Cubs 2012 Convention: The Inside Report

Friday  January 13th, 2012

Brian Bernardoni (Guest Writer – MLB reports):  The tour begins.  As long as baseball is played….

For 15 years I have given tours at Wrigley Field to literally thousands of Cub Fans, tourists and the occasional Canadian.  And since 1998 I have always started them the same way; with this soliloquy:

“As long as baseball is played, the memory will live of a bulbous man on matchstick leg pointing in an elegant gesture to Wrigley Field’s faraway centerfield barrier, the jibes of 50,000 Chicago fans searing his ears.  There were two strikes on George Herman (Babe) Ruth like there had been many times in his career.  The score was 4 to 4 in the fifth, and Ruth’s Yankees were gunning for their third straight win.  Two called strikes and there stood baseball’s greatest hitter in the sunset of his career, majestically drawing a bead on a spot 400 feet away.  Contemptuously the Babe held up two fingers, then pointed to the centerfield flagpole.  Charlie Root pitched.  He shouldn’t have done it.  Like a projectile the ball left the Ruthian bat to scream on a line over the right centerfield wall.” 

Any true baseball fan will recognize the story immediately.  The story is of course the “Called Shot”. 

The story is really part of American folklore; its “Casey at Bat” except Casey hits the home run.  Personally I have long contended that the “Called Shot” story is the work of Ruth and the massive public relations team that supported him.  Charlie Root and Gabby Hartnett both presented full course presses during and after their careers were over that the story was false, as did a significant volume of others.  Heck; Ruth even admitted it.  But when you strip away the grandiose story, the drama of the World Series and the great imagery the myth provided Ruth with the setting for what a star is supposed do.   A star, when provided the opportunity shines. 

Now there are undeniable facts about the story.  Fact 1: Charlie Root pitched the ball and Ruth hit it out on Sheffield Avenue.

But as a Cub fan, and a Wrigley Field tour guide the part of the story that grabs me the most is that the Ruth’s pinnacle moment didn’t happen at Ebbets Field, or Fenway, or even the house he himself built – Yankee Stadium.  No.  The moment that was the exclamation mark on his extraordinary career happened in Chicago and it happened at Wrigley Field, and that is Fact 2. 

The 27th Annual Cubs Convention will take place Friday, January 13 through Sunday, January 15, 2012, at the Hilton Chicago, located at 720 S. Michigan Avenue.  The hours of the Convention are as follows:     Friday – 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday – 9 a.m. to midnight; Sunday – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For Cub fans interested in what is happening at Wrigley Field during the off-season the can’t miss session is “Meet Cubs Business Management,” offering a look toward the future of the Cubs and Wrigley Field with Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney, Executive Vice President, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Wally Hayward, Executive Vice President of Community Affairs Mike Lufrano, Vice President of Stadium Operations Carl Rice, Vice President of Ticket Sales Colin Faulkner, Vice President of Business Development Alex Sugarman and Director of Fan Experiences Jahaan Blake.

The ballpark is much more than a building for me.  It’s part of my own family history as my grandmother played softball there in 1933 during the World’s Fair in Chicago.  My daughter took her first step on the field on Father’s Day just a few feet away from where her grandmother once played.  It’s also a cruel mistress – who takes me from my family.  I leave hours before I should so I can gaze upon her and sing her praises.  So as I embark on blogging about her and Chicago ballparks and their rich history  – I hope you enjoy the tour. 

I will be tweeting at the event (should the Hilton have WiFi).  Follow me on Twitter (@brianbernardoni)

ABOUT:  BRIAN A. BERNARDONI

2010 Jerome Holtzman Award Recipient

In 2012 Brian A. Bernardoni will enter his fifteenth year as a Wrigley Field Tour Guide.  He is a native Chicagoan and is widely recognized and highly regarded as an expert on both the West Side Grounds and Wrigley Field.

Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cub fan who along with his colleague Michael Reischl and the “Way Out of Left Field Society” coordinated efforts to place a historic marker at the location of the West Side Grounds, where the Chicago Cubs played (1885 -1915).  He has testified on behalf of the Chicago Cubs on land marking matters at before the Chicago Landmarks Commission and the Chicago City Council Committee on Buildings.  He is a member of the Emil Verban Society, the Emil Rothe Chapter of SABR, the Ballparks Committee and the Old Timer’s Baseball Association of Chicago of which he was the 2008 “Old Timer of the Year”.  For these efforts Brian was awarded in 2010 with the Pitch and Hit Club of Chicago’s “Jerome Holtzman” Award.  

A vigorous researcher he has contributed to several books including The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball, Haunted Baseball, Field of Screams: Haunted Tales from the Baseball Diamond, the Locker Room, and Beyond, Classic Cubs ¬– A Tribute to the Men and Magic of Wrigley Field, Hoodoo: Unraveling the 100-Year Mystery of the Chicago Cubs and ¬Living the Dream – An Inside Account of the 2008 Cubs Season.  His poetry on the Cubs can be found on Bardball.com and he is a blogger for MLB Reports.  His own book on Wrigley Field with Elliott Harris is anticipated soon.  

Brian and his efforts to preserve the history of Chicago Cubs ballparks have also been featured in two recent films on the Chicago Cubs; “We Believe” and “Chicago Cubs: The Heart & Soul of Chicago.” Brian was also a contributor on both films.

Brian is not only a serious baseball historian but also has played a role in some interesting Cub related events including “Burying the Curse” where he performed in a funeral home with legendary performer Tom Dressen and a séance in the room where Billy Jurges was shot at the Hotel Carlos; an inspiration for the book and subsequent film “The Natural.”

Brian and his wife Carrie are residents in the Chicagoland area and are the parents of four daughters.

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About Jonathan Hacohen

I practice daily yoga. Most foods are organic. If you catch me in the supermarket, it will be in the produce aisle. Warrior 1 Yoga was born from my wish to help people be healthy and happy. I preach the 4 key's to life: nutrition, exercise, water and sleep. This is my journey - I am hope to meet you along the way to share a similar path!

Posted on January 13, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Brian, I took the tour of Wrigley Field and it’s worth every penny. I really enjoyed learning about the stories of putting lights in and the tiff that the Cubs had with the rooftop home owners. The Babe Ruth called shot is a great story, even more so as the truth about it is known.

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