10/14/2003 7:10 PM ET
Cubs fans' turn to make some noise
CHICAGO -- Remember all of those ThunderStix that were slapped together by Anaheim Angels fans during the last World Series? The manufacturer was only glad to raise the decibel level and help those fans celebrate their first world championship in franchise history, but now it is that company's turn to make some noise.
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Vonco Products Inc. is based in Lake Villa, Ill., an hour's drive from Wrigley Field, and its representatives were all over Wrigleyville Tuesday to distribute more than 5,000 pairs of red-and-blue ThunderStix to Cubs fans. This is a franchise that has waited even longer than Anaheim, much longer. Work just got more fun at Vonco.
"They were hot for the Angels last year, and we've been handing them out here in the streets during the playoffs," said Les Laske, Vonco's vice president of sales and marketing, while handing out the inflatable ThunderStix to patrons at the "Cubby Bear" bar across from the stadium's main gate. "Being a local business, we're kind of rooting for the Cubs." More than "kind of," actually.
If you are watching Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on TV, then you probably will see them in the crowd. Not that this breed of fan needs any extra noisemaking tool, of course. One side reads: "GO CHICAGO". The other reads: "WE'RE HAVING FISH FOR DINNER!"
Vonco describes itself as "The innovative manufacturer of thermoplastic custom packaging and specialties since 1955." Its products range from liquid-tight specimen bags to hand puppets, and Laske says it is the only company that manufactures these ThunderStix that appear everywhere from sports events to political conventions.
Perhaps never, however, has the company had such a vested interest in this particular distribution channel. Maybe that's why they're given away free.
"The business has been based in Lake Villa since 1955, and we're all born around here and grew up Cub fans," Laske said. "We're ready for some good news, and this is our way of being part of it. I was a student at Iowa State in 1984, and I remember how the Padres came back on the Cubs to get to the World Series. This is our turn."
Of course, Cub fans have waited even longer to play in a World Series than Anaheim, which made it to -- and won -- its first Fall Classic last fall. Dusty Baker and Kenny Lofton were part of that Giants team that heard all those ThunderStix clacking in the stands last year for Game 6 and 7, and they probably will be much happier to hear them making noise on behalf of them this time.
The ThunderStix are not an official Cub giveaway at the ballpark, so they will not be as omnipresent as they were in Anaheim. It is more of a goodwill gesture by the local company, and they are especially visible around the streets.
Mark Newman is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.