Wrigleyville: Our first trip to Wrigley

It’s been almost two weeks since Heather and I visited Wrigley Field. So, it is past time for a blog, but I guess I wanted to just hold those memories in my mind as long as I could. It’s interesting being a Cubs fan. I’ve been one now for 17 years. People often ask me how I became a Cubs fan. Let us begin with that story.The answer is simply: they were my remedy for boredom. My family moved in June of 1991 to Enid, OK as my dad became the pastor at Christ UMC. While there were a bunch of boys my age at the church, I was still making friends (2nd Grade) and my sister and I had a babysitter during the day, while both my parents were working. This made for some long days. (Mind you this was before my mom caved in and bought us a video game system). So, during the day I might play with my sister, or my ghostbusters, or outside, or something similar, I noticed that often at about 1:05 I could watch baseball, which I was playing for the first time that summer. Almost everyday at 1:05 on WGN the Cubs would be on TV in my living room. I didn’t care much about winning and losing. If you would have asked me about the team, I probably would have told you that the Cubs won most of their games, but I cared more about Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace, Andre Dawson, and George Bell. These were the Cubbies that I came to love, and that is when I started to Bleed Cubbie Blue.
This love affair continued as I was growing up. It was also as I was growing up that I begin to notice the Cubs lost, a lot. But my love for the Cubs continued. I remember the 1998 season. It is a special one for all of us Cubs fans. First, came the Kerry Wood game. Kerry Wood, a rookie, with a blazing fastball and a wicked slurve (slider/curve in the same pitch) struck out 20 Astros allowing just 1 measly infield hit (that should have been called an error). He did not just strike out 20 batters. He made 20 batters look foolish. This game broadcast on WGN is on my top 5 games I have ever watched. I remember after the game printing off pictures and making myself a flyer for my locker (that’s how cool I was). This was also the Summer of 66. As Sammy Sosa hit 66 home runs in a magical season (we all ignored the obvious effects of steroids, and we didn’t know or care that he was a selfish jerk), and we loved Slammin Sammy Sosa. That was a magical summer, but the best part was the Cubs made the playoffs. (though they got swept) Some teams have periods that they were good, the Cubs have seasons that we talk about. 84, 89, 98, 2003. 2003- 5 outs away from the World Series, we don’t have the space to talk about that. Basically, my love for the Cubs have grown and grown and grown as I have watched hundreds of games at Wrigley Field, but have never been to the corner of Sheffield and Addison before, but April 2, 2008 we finally arrived.
Actually, we drove by Wrigley the day before. When we pulled up, we saw the lights and I squealed with glee. We drove by and saw the marquee, we saw the statues of Harry Carey and Ernie Banks. I knew it was close. So, the next day after breakfast, we drove to Wrigleyville. Going to Wrigley Field is unlike going to almost every other major sporting event. When you go to most stadiums, they have a clearly marked exit on a major highway where you can see the stadium from that highway, not so with Wrigley. As you pull closer, you have your own special “Stadium Road,” not so with Wrigley. As you look to park you can choose the green lot, or the blue lot that charges you $30, not so with Wrigley. We exited the highway and drove 3 miles on Addison until we got close to Wrigley. Instead of a huge parking lot area, you parked on the street. We parked about a 1/2 mile away for free. Yes for FREE! Try doing that at most of your other ballparks. Anyway, we walked up to Wrigley Field. We saw the famous marque and went to see the new statue of Ernie Banks. Then we went to the other side of Wrigley and saw the Harry Carey statue. While we were there, we got a chance to have a good view of the rooftop seats. We saw Harry Carey’s bar (where they blew up the Bartman ball). We went to a few shops across the street from the stadium, where there were endless rows of Cubbie blue, and no shortage of Fukudome shirts. After our purchase at one of the stops, we decided to enter Cubby Bear, where I got carded. It was, well, what you expected loud, lots of blue, and lots of beer. That is not Heather and I, so went to a place called Salt and Peppers, where the server still work a Cubs shirt and we split a hamburger. (Really good by the way).
Finally, it was time to enter Wrigley. We walked in the under part of the Field and saw the banners of the great Cubs like Ryno, Hawk, and Santo. Then, we walked towards our seat down the first base line in section 239. We walked through the tunnel and there it was: a slice of baseball heaven. It was like we saw on TV, but crisper. It had a freshness to it. Heather kept asking what do you want me to get a picture of. I said everything. Did you get the flags on the Foul Poles? How about the Harry sign under the brodcasting booth? Did you get the scoreboard? How about the rooftop seats, the lights, oh look their is Soriano, get the Fukudome fanatics, and on it went. It was so exciting to be able to live the history that is Wrigley. I wouldn’t call Wrigley a holy place, but maybe a magical place. There is something about the Friendly Confines. We eventually went to our seats, got out the program and the scorecard and watched the players warm up. It was for me being that 7 year old boy from the living room now actually seating in Wrigley. I could see the nuances. I could feel the wind (blowing in that day). I saw the full bleachers. We were experiencing Wrigleyville.
The game began with a bang, literally a first pitch fastball hit out of the ballpark by the Brewers. I kept score, which was a lot of fun and made me feel intimately part of the game. The game itself was disappointing though as the Cubs did not play well and lost 8-2. I did get to see D Lee hit his first homerun of the season though and that was exciting. If you listen to rumors they will tell you that a lot of people get drunk at Wrigley, that rumor is fact. We saw a Brewers fand and a Cubs fan get in a scuffle and get kicked out as half the stadium looked at what was going on followed by one Cubs fan flipping the double bird for the next 5 minutes before, graciously, security told him to put them down, so his hands went to his side, while his 8 year old daughter looked on. Oh, Wrigleyville.
The highlight of my time was the 7th Inning Stretch. I was living a dream. This was the experience that solidified me as a Cub fan for life. There you are with the rest of the stadium singing about baseball, the classic American game, “I don’t care if I ever get back.” But more than that I was at Wrigley with my wife by my side, and I was living the American dream cheering on the Cubs, “For it’s root, root, root for the CUBBIES, if they don’t win it’s a shame.” Reflecting back on my experience, I think it would have been a shame if the Cubbies had won, I mean how arrogant was I to think that my first trip to Wrigley should be a win, for these infamous losers. Being a Cubs fan is not about winning and losing (though we are starting to get used to winning, and we are closer to winning our next World Series than we’ve ever been before). No being a Cubs fan is about experiecing 100 years of losing with joy. It’s about singing loud and experiencing life and making memories. Something we all should do. “For it’s 1, 2, 3 strikes you’re out in the old ball game…. Let’s get some runs!!!!”

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2 Comments

Filed under Life Lessons, Sports

2 responses to “Wrigleyville: Our first trip to Wrigley

  1. Shannon

    I always think it’s bad when the Cubbies win;)

    I’m glad you had a great trip to Chicago and to see the Cubs. I hope to go to Busch Stadium one day. Maybe in the fall.

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