I have always loved baseball. From as far back as I can remember, I have had a fascination with the game, and have enjoyed playing and watching baseball anytime I can. Growing up in North Texas, I faithfully followed the Texas Rangers every night during the summer. But before the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field had lights installed I would spend my summer days inside watching the Cubs play on WGN, building a soft spot in my baseball heart for the Cubbies.
So when my wife and I decided to go visit some friends in Indianapolis, followed by a couple of days together in Chicago, I made sure that we made it to a Cubs game. Very rarely in life do your wildest expectations turn out exactly how you hoped. That trip to Wrigley Field was one of those.
Of course all the tickets were sold out so I hopped on StubHub and bought my tickets. I was able to get some tickets to a day game down the first base line in front of the columns that hold up the second deck. In case you've never been there, there is a section of seats down low which have a walkway behind them. We were 4 rows up from the walkway. They were wonderful seats that I would recommend to someone looking to make a trip to Wrigley Field. The view was not obstructed but the cost of the tickets was not exorbitant, even on an after-market basis.
If you are a baseball fan making your first pilgrimage to Wrigley Field I would suggest getting their early. We were staying downtown so we took the train to the stadium and got there just as the gates opened. This allowed us to take our time going in and to take some pictures. Just be careful how excited you get. The train will let you off at the right field corner and if you are too excited you will just walk right in. I caught myself and realized that I needed to go in at home plate so I could get a picture of the famous marquee pictured above.
Once inside you get a feel of old-time baseball. The stadium is very small and intimate. The concourse areas have lots of concrete and not much room. But this just adds to the charm. Also adding to the charm is the aroma of the Chicago hot dogs being cooked at carts throughout the concourses.
If you get there early, the ushers will allow you to walk down towards the field, although we were asked not to stand in the front row. Naturally, if the seat holder comes down they will want you to move, but until then you are free to stand and watch batting practice from close to the field.
Once the game began it was like watching baseball the way it was supposed to be watched. We got lucky and went on a sunny, 80 degree day with no clouds to be seen. The atmosphere was festive despite the fact is was a random game in the middle of June. I know there is no way to guarantee what the weather will be like when you attend a game at Wrigley Field, but if you are fortunate to go to a game with great weather you are in for a treat.
The thing that struck me the most was just how simple the stadium feels. It is just like you would imagine. As a baseball fan you sit there and cannot believe that you are looking at the actual ivy-covered outfield walls. Or that you can see the rooftop seats. If you are like me, and grew up watching the Cubs from afar, the sense of nostalgia is overwhelming.
And it would not be a trip to Wrigley Field without a rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Just as you see on television, everyone stands up, sings, and counts the strikes with their fingers. If you think about it, try to get a picture of everyone with their fingers in the air. The one I took turned out really well and is a neat way to remember that day.
The capper for this day was that the Cubs won the game. Not only did they win, they won in the last at bat. When the Cubs win the team raises a white flag with a blue "W." If you see a Cubs victory, make sure you catch the raising of the flag. It is a cool thing to see. It is raised right above the manual scoreboard, so right out there in centerfield you see all of the old time charm that make Wrigley Field special.
Like the weather, the final outcome is not something that can be predicted. But when you go to a game that you have no rooting interest in, it is always more fun to see the home team win. The excitement is great to watch, and the people leave in a better mood, which is always a plus when you have to hop back on a train.
The train ride back was not bad. The line moved quickly and we did not have to wait long. Just make sure you have your subway card handy and ready to use. I made the mistake of fumbling my card which did not make everyone behind me happy. But on the way back to our hotel, other than some angry street vendors who were selling water from a cooler we did not encounter anything crazy.
I have also seen games in Fenway Park and old Yankee Stadium. Like Wrigley Field, they each have their own plusses and minuses. But I had waited my entire life to make a trip to Wrigley Field. It was a special moment when I first got the tickets and it brought back memories of childhood to walk through those gates for the first time.
If you are a baseball fan, or even a sports fan in general, you must get to Chicago and Wrigley Field to take in a game.