One of my bucket-list items is to go to a game at every Major League ballpark. I haven’t made it too far in this endeavor – O.Co Coliseum (Oakland), AT&T in San Francisco, Chase Field in Phoenix, Petco here in San Diego, Angels Stadium in Anaheim, Chavez Ravine in LA, and Fenway have all been covered. I have some traveling to do, right?
A few weeks back, I made my seventh visit to Chicago. In all those visits, I’d never been to Wrigley, nor to US Cellular Field. When talk turned to a Cubs game, I was all in. And so, on my last full day in Chicago this time out, we jumped on the train and headed to Wrigley.
I’ve grown up going to baseball games. I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked into a stadium. But there’s nothing like a ballpark in the middle of a town/city, nor is there anything like a ballpark that holds history such as Fenway or Wrigley. When we went to Fenway in 1999, I almost passed out with excitement as we walked up to the back side of the Green Monster. Fairly sure I had that same look when I had my first glimpse of Wrigley from the train, much less as we walked up to the famous Cubs marquee.
Spouse describes Wrigley as “a dump”. Yeah, there are much newer, much nicer ballparks around. But new doesn’t have the history of old. I can’t go to Petco and imagine Babe Ruth playing there. Wrigley is old. It has the old style to it. The bathrooms are small. There’s a different smell entirely. But let me just tell you, when we walked up the steps, out into the stands, and I saw the field for the first time, my heart raced, and I took a deep breath, smelling the grass, the leather, the heat, the hot dogs, the beer.
In an old ballpark, the sounds of the game are intensified. Bat hitting ball, ball hitting glove, the crowd singing “Take me Out to the Ballgame”, the calls of “Ball!” and “Strike!”…..they just don’t sound the same as they do in a new park. There’s a measure of tradition that goes with the history in an old ballpark. My A’s have *only* been around since the 60’s. The Cubs have been around since the beginning of baseball. I looked around at EVERYONE wearing their Cubs gear. I stared at the field where countless legends have played. I saw the scoreboard I’d only ever seen on television before. I watched the fans in the seats on top of the buildings around the park. I ate a Chicago-style hotdog. I recalled watching the Cubs BEFORE they had lights at Wrigley. I took it all in.
The Cubs didn’t win the game, but the loss wasn’t without excitement. There were two calls challenged. There was a lot of yelling. The entire stadium sang Take Me Out during the 7th Inning Stretch. I bought gifts for the kids and my Cubs-loving Spouse. The Cubs came up with too little, too late. But oh man, it went down as one of the best days of my life. This baseball fan lived a dream for a few hours in Chicago.