Sunday, June 17, 2012

Preserving Wrigley Field

Last month, I took my first trip to Chicago in many years for a chance to see my Cubbies take on the Phillies. My girlfriend and her parents have never been and they were generous enough to allow me to see my favorite baseball team play in their home park for the first time since before my age was in the double digits. The Cubs were destined to have a bad season, yet the excitement was building as we boarded the Red Line to Wrigley.

We exited the subway. We walked around the park. Walking down Sheffield Avenue, we passed several bars filled with Cub fans living out pre-game rituals. The famous "Eamus Catuli" sign had a lot of numbers, reminding all of the World Series drought. We walked down Waveland Avenue, and the history began to consume me. I began to think of how packed and crazy that very street was nine years ago during the NLCS. I stood in awe at the famous "Welcome to Wrigley Field" entrance and as we walked in, it felt like so much more than just a baseball game.

I have been to other ball parks, such as Great American in Cincinnati. It is a very beautiful park, but doesn't come close in comparison to how Wrigley made me feel when I first laid eyes on the field. The ivy was perfectly green, the old scoreboard stood out like the national monument that it was and the sounds of the organs gave it the old-timey baseball feel. Which brings me to my next point, parks like Great American feel obligated, I guess, to play parts of a song in between every pitch. They have to do "scoreboard games" and on-camera interviews in between innings on the jumbotron. Wrigley gives you baseball, just plain baseball. It is what makes it special and one of the nation's landmarks. A baseball game in Wrigley takes you back in time, to the glory days of baseball, if you will. There is so much history. It's where Babe Ruth called his shot. It's where the highest scoring game in baseball happened in 1922. It's where the Bears won the NFL's first East-West Championship game. It's where Steve Bartman happened and it's where Cubs legend Ron Santo's ashes lay.

The Ricketts family has talked in the past about renovating the ballpark and they have started by adding an electronic scoreboard on the right field wall. I wasn't a fan of that. I will not be a fan of any more renovations. The place sells out almost every game; people love it because of it's historic value, not for the fancy glowing lights of an electronic scoreboard. People go for the experience I had, a chance to see baseball in its simplest   yet most rewarding form. The friendly confines provide that and more.

****The Cubs lost that day....go figure.

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