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Cubs' skipper property of Glen Ellyn school for a day
By Marco Santana | Daily Herald Staff

Connor Cummings, right, chats with Cubs manager Lou Pienella at Churchill Elementary School in Glen Ellyn. Connor won the "Take Lou Piniella to School" contest and was rewarded Friday with a visit from the Cubs manager.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

Cubs manager Lou Piniella asks Connor Cummings' classmates who their favorite Cubs during his visit to Churchill Elementary School in Glen Ellyn. Connor won the "Take Lou Piniella to School" contest.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

Connor Cummings and his autographed baseball briefly became TV stars Friday while chatting with Cubs manager Lou Piniella at Churchill Elementary School in Glen Ellyn. Connor won the "Take Lou Piniella to School" contest.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

Connor Cummings chats with Cubs manager Lou Piniella at Churchill Elementary School in Glen Ellyn. Connor won the "Take Lou Piniella to School" contest, and was rewarded with a visit from the Cubs manager.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

Connor Cummings walks Cubs manager Lou Piniella to his fourth-grade classroom to meet other students at Churchill Elementary School in Glen Ellyn. Connor won the "Take Lou Piniella to School" contest and was rewarded by visit from the Top Cub.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

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Published: 12/11/2009 1:13 PM

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For the first time in a while, Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella fielded questions that had nothing to do with Milton Bradley.

Instead, Piniella took a small break from baseball business to visit Churchill Elementary School in Glen Ellyn as part of an online contest to host the fiery Cubs manager.

Churchill fourth-grader Connor Cummings won the contest. The 9-year-old said he screamed when found out he had won three months ago. And Connor's friends - mostly Cubs fans - also were excited.

"We started making posters," said Connor, decked out in his Alfonso Soriano jersey signed by Sean Marshall. "They were very happy."

The contest seems to have picked an appropriate winner. Connor is a sports fanatic who can, on cue, recite Chicago Bears scores from years ago.

He said he attended about 12 Cubs games this year and has served as the team's bat boy several times. In fact, Connor said the only time he can remember when he was not a Cubs fan was about a minute after his birth.

"I have to fight him for the sports page every day," said his father, Mark Cummings.

Connor's grandmother, Kathy Harbison, entered Connor in the contest. In September, she called Mark and told him the good news. Connor and his twin sister, Katie, were ecstatic.

Piniella's visit comes days after the Major League Baseball winter meetings in Indianapolis. With rumors of a Milton Bradley trade popping up seemingly every day, he said the day at Churchill was a nice break from business.

"I was a kid once," Piniella said. "I would have been thrilled when I was a young man if I could have had a professional athlete or a person I admire come over to the school."

Piniella arrived in the morning and met briefly with Connor's family and signed a 1970 rookie card for Connor.

He then visited Connor's class, taking questions on topics that ranged from his career and his childhood (he was a Red Sox fan in Tampa, Fla.) to whether he had ever met Babe Ruth (before his time).

One student even brought up the Billy Goat Curse.

"I don't believe in curses," Piniella told the class. "If you're good enough, the curse is not going to bother anybody."

Afterward, he signed autographs for the class and posed for a class photo before heading to the school's gymnasium to meet with all Churchill students.

As Connor led Piniella through the halls toward the gymnasium, with a smile that remained on his face all morning, teachers and students stared in awe.

Connor said he felt great that Piniella visited. And, he said, despite a disappointing 2009 season, his spirits were still high on the team.

"I still see them winning everything if they play hard," he said.