ARLINGTON HEIGHTS - This Friday will mark Larry Morton's 15th consecutive Cubs Convention. This year, at the Sheridan Towers, Morton plans on showing up with a new philosophy: no apologies.
Every year, the die-hard Cubs fan has been on the front lines of aggressive autograph seekers. For years, he's been more than willing to give space to a kid who cuts in line...or a father looking for that final autograph for his son.
Not this year.
"If any kid gets between me and Jeff Fassero, shit's gonna get real," said the 75 year old Cubs fan. "I'm 75. I'm sick and tired of kids cutting in and grabbing autographs. Last year was the final straw."
What happened last year? Well, Morton was in line to receive an autograph from Anthony Rizzo when several kids cut in line. Just before Morton reached Rizzo, the session came to a close. For the past 12 months, Morton has been stewing.
Usually, I'd just get over these things. The Cubs would be in the pennant race or at least they'd be active in the trade market. Last year, I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just 100 losses and the thought...that look...that look on Rizzo's agents face...those smiling kids...those smiling kids...I'm gonna make sure I don't lose out to no kids!"
Every year, Morton makes sure he lines up 30 autographs from current and former players. He finds the times and the rooms. He sets up a plan of attack. He hires people to stand in line. His plan for 2013 is intense...and involves many souvenirs.
"Well, I've got 10,000 things from Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie, Ryno, etc...those aren't what I'm looking for. What I'm looking for are personalized messages from second tier players. You know, things I can frame and give my kids. For instance, in Ballroom A on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. is Jeff Fassero. I have a picture of him in his windup. I want him to autograph it, 'here it comes...long...sweeping...changeup...about to be hit 400 feet.' Any grandchild can look up stats on Jeff Fassero, but I want my kids to know the story of Jeff Fassero!"
Morton plans on getting a toilet seat that he stole from the upper deck in 1986 autographed by Dave Otto. Why? As Morton states, 'Who would have a Wrigley Field toilet autographed by Dave Otto?'
Steve Trout will autograph the stationary bike he fell off of, Lee Smith will autograph the locker room bench he used to take naps on, and Todd Hundley will autograph the locker room stall where he used to do coke. All of this, and more, in just three days!
"This is what America is all about; entrepreneurialism!
Let's just hope the kids know that entrepreneurialism sometimes involves elbows and boxing out.