Basket auction helps fans know Cubs better

Basket auction helps fans know Cubs better

CHICAGO -- Did you know that Cubs rookie Kris Bryant has a sweet tooth? Or that pitcher James Russell is from Texas and loves barbeque? Or that manager Joe Maddon likes photography?

Fans can find out some of the Cubs' favorite things on Saturday at Wrigley Field when their wives and girlfriends will sell personalized baskets filled with the goodies. Proceeds will benefit Cubs Charities and go toward purchasing books for the library of a Chicago inner-city school.

The baskets will be sold in the main concourse at Wrigley Field near Gate F from 1:05 p.m. CT through the seventh inning. There are two baskets for each participating Cub, and the other will be auctioned online, starting Saturday at 8 p.m. To place an online bid, visit www.cubs.com/authentics. Opening bids are $400, and last year, the event raised nearly $20,000.

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Maddon's is loaded with the lineup card from the July 4 win over the Marlins, a gift card for vitamins, a small camera, a jersey and three books, including two by Malcolm Gladwell, "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" and "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference."

Among the items Jake Arrieta's wife, Brittany, packaged in his basket are the pitcher's favorite socks, which feature the Chicago skyline, a healthy chocolate-chip-cookie mix and a koozie from his school, TCU.

"This gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at who we are as people rather than just players," Arrieta said. "All the wives and girlfriends took a lot of time and effort to put them together, and [they] stayed on us to provide them with ideas and stuff for the baskets. They did a tremendous job. There are some nice surprises in there."

Jon Lester's basket has a grilling theme, thanks to wife Farrah. There's barbeque sauce, a cooler and some movie DVDs, including "The Big Lebowski" and "Dumb and Dumber." Edwin Jackson loves music, and his wife, Erika, packed headphones and small speakers in the pitcher's basket as well as an espresso maker. Miguel Montero's basket even has a catcher's mask.

Bryant's basket has plenty of candy plus some golf balls, cleats, an autographed baseball and a Zac Brown Band CD.

"I have a sweet tooth, and I like any sort of candy," the All-Star said. "Whoever gets it will have exactly what I like."

Bryant's girlfriend, Jessica Delp, compiled the goodies.

"Fans don't really have a chance to get to know you on a personal level, but they can know you based on what you like and what music you listen to and what hobbies you have," Bryant said. "I think it's pretty cool."

Anthony Rizzo's mother, Laurie, knew exactly what her son likes, and she put together his basket, including some sweet cereal. There's also a Rizzo jersey, autographed cap and bat and a bobblehead from the All-Star first baseman.

Other Cubs players taking part include Mike Baxter, Chris Coghlan, Dexter Fowler, Justin Grimm, Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks, Neil Ramirez, David Ross, Addison Russell and Travis Wood.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.