Jim O’Donnell: Ambitious 1984 Cubs reunion skips Wrigley, set for Lake in the Hills

WHAT'S AN HVAC GUY from Lake in the Hills doing outhustling the Cubs front office?

That question will be air-conditioned Monday and Tuesday when Stu McVicar and his charity-oriented Club 400 host a two-day homemade reunion of the 1984 Cubs.

McVicar has drawn an impressive array of at least 11 members of the landmark NL-East champs. That roster includes such unforgetables as Gary Matthews, Jody Davis, Bob Dernier and the inimitable Leon Durham.

Ryne Sandberg — the 1984 NL MVP — remains a game-time decision. Sandberg is battling prostate cancer and, according to McVicar, wants to see where his energy level is at after a statue forever honoring Chicago's “other” No. 23 is unveiled at Wrigley Field Sunday.

PERHAPS THE MOST AMAZING THING is that the primary batter's box for everything is the Cubbie-intense man cave bar that McVicar and wife Lisa maintain at their 2,300-square foot home in the far northwest suburb.

“I organized 'Club 400' as a 501(c) 10 years ago totally themed around the Cubs,” the 50-year-old Northern Illinois grad ('96) said. “We've held close to 40 events and raised $851,000 for a bunch of charities, all essentially at my house. But this may be the most ambitious of all. Tom Ricketts has been out here twice but is not a definite for this one.”

  Wayne Messmer sings the national anthem during opening night Friday of the 2019 Chicago Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Grand in Chicago. Patrick Kunzer/

“This one” will consist of a golf outing Monday at Pinecrest in Huntley. That'll be followed by the main event Tuesday night — a four-hour gala at McVicar's house. Wayne Messmer will emcee both.

Other '84 Cubs who've said they'll attend are: Richie Hebner, Thad Bosley, Steve Trout, Tim Stoddard, Wayne Brusstar, Rich Bordi and Chuck Rainey.

GREATLY ASSISTING VICAR have been Bob Ibach — the '84 team's P.R. chief — plus head trainer Tony Garofalo and Sharon Pannozzo, an Ibach assistant who went on to a fabulous first-string career at NBC.

“I was 10 years old when the '84 Cubs happened,” McVicar said. “It's impossible to describe how important and exciting that team was to the history of the franchise. They were magical, mesmerizing. Jim Frey and that bunch signaled a new era was in play. Harry Caray energized all of it. They paved the way to 2016.”

ALSO ENERGIZING THAT MEMORABLE SEASON was ballgirl Marla Collins, who got her start in MLB as a beer-and-wine seller at Comiskey Park. She joined the Cubs sideliners in 1982 (at $100 per game).

Caray and then-superstation WGN Ch. 9 made her nationally renown.

Collins is expected at the Tuesday night headliner. She left the team midway through the 1986 season after posing for Playboy. (Steve Stone didn't have to go anywhere after posing for Playgirl in 1983.)

Later, Collins married Joe Evans, a Barrington Hills-based real estate developer who died in 2012. She spent more than 20 years working as a diagnostic medical sonographer. Adult daughters Autumn and Callan both live in the Midwest.

ONLY 200 TICKETS WERE OFFERED for public purchase to McVicar's latest charitable home run try. A handful — at $300 each — remain available. Full information can be viewed at

Maybe the Cubs front office can send a scout.

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