Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts hopes to extend his wild trophy tour into 2018

And you thought Todd would be the Ricketts brother most likely to share headlines with a head of state.

Yet Tom Ricketts, the Cubs chairman, came dangerously close last January while taking the World Series trophy into the office of Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina.

"It's fragile, and you can't grab the flags because you can pull one of them out of the trophy," Ricketts recalled Wednesday. "He got up and, without asking, grabbed the trophy and pulled on the flags. Our head of security, who was watching, stood up. Suddenly, the president's head of security stood up."

Ricketts laughed retelling the story like a guy who has enjoyed every minute of the last 11 months lugging around the 24-inch, 30-pound sterling silver Commissioner's Trophy.

"But the president realized the flags were loose and quickly put it back down and picked it up the right way," Ricketts said. "It was almost an international incident."

Not every place Ricketts traveled with the trophy left such a unique impression but many created special memories, such the line of Cubs fans that snaked around the block in March at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. Later in the summer, Ricketts just showed up one night with the trophy in tow at his buddy's local bar, and, another time, at a Lake in the Hills man cave for a fundraiser for a 17-year-old heart-transplant recipient.

He occasionally surprised more than a few Cubs fans at birthdays and anniversaries and randomly appeared at parties that produced actual World Series hangovers. He took it to a cigar plantation in the Dominican after leaving the president's office. He posed next to it at hospitals and legion halls, hockey rinks and basketball gyms, in parades and on stage.

At least Ricketts never allowed the trophy to be damaged on his watch like Cubs President Theo Epstein, who passed it around in June at his benefit concert in Boston, where several flags were broken — and repaired before the next scheduled appearance. Every Cubs minor-league affiliate spent a day with the reminder of what every young player is chasing. Officially, the Cubs counted 232 stops with the World Series trophy since winning it last Nov. 2 but, unofficially, Ricketts guesses that's low.

"It's been an amazing year," Ricketts said. "When people tell you their story about how they sat with their father or grandfather to watch the game or would bring a family member, it is really meaningful and emotional. There's no way anyone can anticipate how much that trophy means to so many people."

No experiences with the trophy meant more to Ricketts than his first two: in Cleveland minutes after Game 7 and on the Cubs parade route that began at Wrigley Field and ended at Grant Park. Upon hoisting the hardware for the first time, victoriously, it struck Ricketts how his world immediately had changed — a sensation he remembered every time he introduced himself to a grateful Cubs fan.

"When you're finally holding that trophy in the Indians clubhouse, for me it was being able to pay back all the people who stayed patient and stuck with us, not just the seven years of the Ricketts era but all the years before that," Ricketts said.

The Commissioner's Trophy isn't like the Stanley Cup. It stays with the rightful owner rather than rotating after each season depending on what team wins. Its only keeper is the winner, forever. So while the Cubs don't have to give anything back to the league, Ricketts does feel like he would miss the responsibility of spreading goodwill, one photo op at a time.

"Obviously, we have to get another trophy if we want to take the trophy around again," Ricketts said. "But I think we're as well-positioned as we can be to do that. We're pretty healthy, very confident, playing well."

Elaborating, Ricketts credited Cubs players for fighting through the "World Series hangover" and Maddon for keeping "his eyes on the horizon." Ricketts' positive assessment of the state of the Cubs heading into the postseason fell short of the guarantee his more outspoken brother issued June 28 during a White House visit. With several players, coaches and front office members around President Donald Trump, Cubs board member Todd Ricketts was caught on camera saying of the Nationals: "We're going to run into these guys in the playoffs and you'll ... see them crumble."

A little more than three months later, Tom Ricketts merely chuckled when asked if he had to tell Todd to be a little more silent of a partner.

"He was just making smart talk, just joking around," Ricketts said. "I was like, 'You know everything you say gets picked up by somebody.' We know how good the Nationals are. They are loaded. It's going to be a great series."

Potentially too great — and too close — to add anything to the agenda no matter how close Nationals Park is to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"Ha, no plans for any White House trips this time, all baseball," Ricketts said. "Hopefully win a couple games, come back home and be in LA the following weekend."

Spoken like a guy not ready yet to end his trophy tour.

dhaugh@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @DavidHaugh

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