All weekend, I am ensconced in pop culture insanity at C2E2, but I will take a break Sunday midafternoon for a special event. Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins will be making an appearance at Wrigleyville Sports, conveniently just a few miles north of C2E2. Wrigleyville Sports, at 959 West Addison Street (just across from Wrigley Field), is hosting Fergie's appearance, which is courtesy of AUTOGRAPH1, from 1 pm to 3 pm. I previewed this Fergie appearance on the Patch at Fergie Jenkins Is Coming to Wrigleyville.
Fergie was in the middle of his historic 6 consecutive 20 win seasons when I got interested in baseball. Still in his early 20's you knew Fergie was on a path to the Hall of Fame. During those years, the Cubs had great pitchers like Ken Holtzman and Milt Pappas and young future stars like Burt Hooton, Rick Reuschel, and Larry Gura, but Fergie was always the ace.
Then the unthinkable happened and he was traded to the Texas Rangers. I remember seeing his hatless 1974 Topps baseball card (a common thing for players traded in the offseason). Even worse was actually seeing him in a Rangers uniform on his 1975 card. Fergie was always supposed to be in Cubs' blue.
Fergie would spend two seasons with the Rangers, followed by two seasons with the Boston Red Sox, before returning to the Rangers for four more seasons. By then, Fergie had a record of 264 and 202. Clearly a lock for the Hall of Fame, the free agent Fergie chose to end his career with the Cubs.
Fergie pitched two more seasons, contributing 20 wins, while helping the Cubs through the Dallas Green transition, which led them to the 1983 NL championship series. He retired after the 1983 season.
Back in my childhood days, a player appearance was a rare thing. Fans were lucky if we could get a quick autograph at the game. Pictures with the players were not even possible in the age prior to selfies. I would never have dreamed of meeting Fergie, let alone talking to him and getting a picture with him.
Fortunately, times and technology have changed. Thanks to athletes like Fergie and businesses like Wrigleyville Sports and AUTOGRAPH1, we can not only meet our favorites, we can spend a little time with them, hearing some fun baseball stories.
Believe me, Fergie has great stories. In addition to his own interesting career, he played with and against many Hall of Fame players and other fun characters. Despite having met Fergie several times already, I still hear new stories every time.
Adding to the fun, Fergie isn't coming alone. Also appearing is Marla McKenna, author of Mom's Big Catch, a wonderful children's book and a great collectible for older Cubs fans. Marla has her own fun stories to share.
For me, there is one more reason to catch this event. My longtime friend Steve Gassman is Fergie's Personal Assistant and we will do a bit of catching up there. It's always great seeing Steve.
I have previously attended appearances at Wrigleyville Sports and their events are always very well run. They always have plenty of merchandise for sale to be signed by the celebrity guest. I am really looking forward to seeing Fergie, Marla, Steve and hopefully many of my other friends, too.
Fergie Jenkins and me in Chicago, IL-February 2018.