I grew up in a baseball-cheering family. My dad grew up on the outskirts of New York City and absorbed Yankee mania. I first remember listening to games when I was maybe four or five. By that time we lived in Pennsylvania and we were Pirate fans. Well, Dad was become a Pirate fan and so by osmosis, so was I.
Dad had a shortwave radio and sometimes at night, I would go to sleep listening to some random game between two obscure (to us) teams like the Cardinals and the Dodgers.
And so by the time we moved to Illinois and by the time the school took all the fifth grade safety patrols to a Cubs game, I was immersed in the rules and easily picked up on what was happening. What was happening was the Cubs played the Pirates, Ernie Banks hit a home run, the Cubs won and Ernie became my hero.
That was it. I was a Cubs fan. And I remained a Cubs fan though I married a Pirates fan, we lived in the middle of Tiger fans and then lived in the middle of Brewer fans. So the rule was – if the Cubs played the Pirates, Ken cheered for the Pirates – any other time he cheered for the Cubs and vice versa. Or if Cubs were playing the Tigers or Brewers, we cheered for the Cubs – any other time we cheered for the Tigers or Brewers. Yes, we had a strict baseball-cheering system.
Once or twice a summer (as a kid), we’d get in the car and drive to Wrigley Field. Because no one really came to the games in those days (Cubs were a sad team), we could easily find parking and buy tickets.
When we lived in Racine, we occasionally brought the kids down to games (and Kelli physically ran into Harry Carey or wait, Harry Carey ran into her).
Since I’m back in the area I again get to one or two games a year.
And I’ve gotten to some cool games …
We were at the Lee Smith game with the “immaculate deflection” play (that’s what it’s called).
We were at the game where Billy Williams broke the record for most consecutive games played. (Cincinnati)
We were at the one where the Cubs and the Brewers were vying for a place in the playoffs – Brewers were winning until two outs in the ninth and Cubs rallied and won. (Talking about screaming fans!)
Being there is fun. Getting there is crazy.
I do not mind driving in the city. I do mind parking in the city.
We have done driving, remote parking, nearby parking lot (say $30 – $40), Redline, bus from suburban shopping mall and taxi. None are ideal. Unlike many ballparks, Wrigley is in a residential area with no parking lot. But at the same time, we have always managed to actually get to the game.
Just beware – if you’ve never been there.
Once you arrive, the neighborhood is chaos. People everywhere, swarming around, trying to sell you tickets or buy your tickets, or offering you ice water (don’t believe that part about there being no bottled water in the stadium), or programs.
Like any stadium/museum these days, you have to grow through security – actually twice. They checked out bags and then you put your stuff in another container and go walk through the metal detector machine (which for some reason, I had to walk through four times – have no idea why).
And then you’re inside. You feel people jostling against you as everyone wants to get where they’re going. You smell the mixture of hotdogs, nachos and peanuts. You hear surround sound snippets of conversation.
My first game.
Where is our seats?
Let’s get some food.
Stay with me! Don’t get lost. I’ll never find you.
And then you walk up the ramp and into the bright sunlight. You see the iconic field, ivy on the wall. Sandberg, Banks, Williams (plus) flags flying, the guys warming up on the grass.
You find your way to your seat and you relax …
Friday’s game was just about perfect (for a ballgame).
Kyle Hendricks pitched (my favorite pitcher). Ben Zobrist (a favorite) led off with a hit and then came through with a bases-loaded double – which pushed the Cubs ahead. Kris Bryant (another favorite) followed behind with another hit. Now, if Steve Cishek had pitched …
And they won.