Passionate Major League Baseball fans will relate…
…Approaching 103-year-old Wrigley Field for the first time (June 2017), its history washed over me, much like every game I take in at the legendary Fenway Park — two years older than the home of Cubs.
Soaking in the oldest ballparks in Major League Baseball, the fans that came before all of us, and the players who performed many decades ago at this pair of institutions seem to speak to you. And we had not yet gone inside the home of the Chicago Cubs. No rush. After all, it was only around 3 p.m. The night game did not start until 7:10.
Gave us a few hours to check out Wrigleyville as well as Wrigley Field’s exterior, where took lots of photos and mingled with Cub fans at a Draft Kings pub and eatery attached to the ballpark. To our pleasant surprise, fans can actually enter Wrigley through the back of the pub. They let us in around a half-hour or so before first pitch.
Outside Wrigley are statues of four Hall of Famers: legendary announcer Harry Caray, “let’s” play two Ernie Banks, sweet swinging Billy Williams, and third baseman great Ron Santo, who later became a long-time Cubs broadcaster for WGN Radio.
Instantly, I began comparing Wrigley to my hometown baseball stadium, Petco Park. First off, there are no obstructed views at the Padres park. Not so at Wrigley. We ended up sitting near one of them, forcing us to look around the concrete pillars. Not fun but it did not ruin our experience. Similar obstructions at Granddaddy Fenway.
Unaware of other MLB stadiums with such glaring obstructed views. If anyone out there can prove me wrong, I’ll update this post.
Technology at Wrigley has improved but does not come close to the newer ballparks, especially Petco, which provides a ton of digital information throughout the game. The Padres giant video screen must be the biggest in the Majors. Again, prove me wrong.
In the meantime, Cub fans were a joy to chat with while we were waiting to be let inside their Chicago shrine to see the game. They were not talking smack about the Padres.
One exception. And that was our doing. We brought up the infamous 1984 National League Championship Series. Back then, the NLCS was a best-of-five series. Cubs won the first two at Wrigley, then traveled to San Diego where the Padres shocked Cub fans when San Diego won the last three of the series, catapulting the team into the World Series. Pitted against the Detroit Tigers, San Diego managed to win only one game in that Series.
Footnote: Ironically, the Cub fans official victory song, “Go Cubs Go,” was written in 1984 by Chicago native/folk singer /fanatic Cub fan Steve Goodman, who passed away the same year at the young age of 36.)
Although 1984 was a tragic year for the Cubs and their fans, 2016 certainly eased their pain. Chicago fans we spoke with before game time relished talking about their 2016 Cubs World Series championship. They kept it short and sweet.
Local fans were well aware that their stud third baseman, Kris Bryant, is a University of San Diego alum. As travel bud Joe and I approached the stadium, he noted the entire exterior had been painted. Ditto for Wrigley’s interior. he had been to Wrigley nearly 12 years ago, noticed changes to Wrigley, including the technological improvements.
As travel bud Joe and I approached the stadium, he noted the entire exterior had a new paint job. Ditto for Wrigley’s interior. he had been to Wrigley nearly 12 years ago, noticed changes to Wrigley, including the technological improvements.
We both realized that Wrigleyville, the immediate surrounding neighborhood, had a similar feel to the happening East Village alongside Petco Park. Also, we observed the construction of a bowling alley. As with San Diego’s East Village, Wrigleyville has its share of pubs and eateries.
And what of Wrigleyville’s infamous rooftop bleachers? In 2015, team owner/CEO Tom Ricketts purchased three of the rooftop bleachers, located across two narrow streets bordering the ballpark’s outfield seating. Purchase of the rooftops was critical because rooftop bleacher viewing would be blocked from game action once the giant video screen and large video board were installed just beyond outfield seating.
Purchase of the rooftops was critical because rooftop bleacher viewing would be blocked from game action once the giant video screen and large video board were installed just beyond outfield seating. Ownership purchased three more rooftop bleachers in 2016. Back to
Back to the game we attended… To our delight, we spotted a couple dozen Padre fans at the game. Easy to pick out in the crowd because they were decked out in Padres gear. That leaves 10 more rooftops with bleachers.
For refreshment, we discovered 312 Urban Pale Ale, brewed by Goose Island of Chicago. Not surprisingly, Goose Island brews were served at the 2017 San Diego International Beer Festival.
Outcome of the mid-June game:
Cubs beat the Swinging Friars, but not before Cub first baseman Anthony Rizzo (a former Padre), injured San Diego’s catcher, Austin Hedges. The home plate collision appeared deliberate, and MLB deemed it a violation. But Rizzo was not fined or suspended. Hmm… Meanwhile, injured Hedges missed a few games.
In 2011, Padres traded Rizzo for starting pitcher Andrew Cashner, considered among the worst trades that San Diego has made.