04.13.2009

Opening Day


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In honor of Opening Day at Wrigley, below is an excerpt of an essay I wrote (I forget what the assignment was) back in college in the Spring of 2003, (hence the Sosa reference):

But people don’t come to see games simply because of Wrigley’s prime location. They come to see what exactly it is like to experience a game inside the “Friendly Confines.” Walking through the main entrance, one can signalways be welcomed with the chant of the same vendor that has been there seemingly as long as Wrigley Field. He shouts, “Hey now! Line-ups!” to help sell his programs as he greets newcomers and welcomes back regulars. The distinct scent of stale beer seeping into cement is always prevalent in the dampness of the lower concourse upon first entering. The mixed smells of fresh popcorn, Chicago-style hot dogs, peanuts, nachos, and cracker jacks soon follow.

 

Walking up the stairs into the ball park is my favorite thing to do. The transition from down below to up into the field always seems so pronounced to me. Coming off a city street I walk everyday and entering a stadium filled with so many people is always quite amazing. I’ve probably seen around a million games, yet each time I can’t help but smile when I first look out onto the field, and then around into the stands. After dodging many vendors and fans on the walkway in the stands from fieldbehind home plate to down the first base line, I can settle into my seat. Looking around me I recognize many people who have had the same season tickets for years, like my family. After exchanging friendly conversation, we focus on the field. As Sammy Sosa comes out into right field, everyone cheers, hoping that he’ll throw his practice ball up into the stands.

Sometimes the actual game seems secondary to coming to Wrigley Field, since watching a Cubs game doesn‘t necessarily always involve watching the actual players. Whether it’s the drunk guys with their shirts off in 30 degree weather, the little kids with their mitts on the whole game hoping to catch a ball, or the businessmen discussing important matters with clients, there is always something going on, or someone providing a great dose of people watching. Sitting on the first base line is advantageous because it is where the opposing teams relief pitcher warms up. The heckling from the crowd is non-stop, and occasionally there is even a new, creative comment thrown out instead of the typical, “You suck!” A lot of people find baseball to be a boring sport, but at Wrigley there is never a dull moment. Someone is always getting kicked out of what they thought were their seats, getting too drunk, passing “the cup” around and betting on each play, scrambling for a foul ball, attempting to flag down a vendor, yelling at someone for standing in their way or for wearing a Chicago White Sox jersey, trying to smoke in the stands, or daring each other to run out onto the field, (which is one of the most entertaining things that I outfieldhave been fortunate enough to experience more than once).

But all these different sorts of people aren’t together in one huge arena for no reason. There is a reason they are all able to get along, (well for the most part), and sing “Take me Out to the Ball Game” at the seventh inning stretch together. It is the Cubs, Wrigley Field, and the feeling that they get when they go there. Going to a game is a familiar thing, the players aren’t far from you, and it seems like it could just be your friends playing a game in front of you. Nothing seems extravagant or outrageous. It is all very simple: people going out just to see a ball game. In a time when everything is expanding, and becoming more technical, I think it’s important that Wrigley has managed to keep its charm. Sure they put up lights about 10 or so years ago in order to accommodate night games, but that’s pretty much been the last most drastic change. (Well, some consider the death of the great Harry Caray a drag…) Going to a game at Wrigley Field is like going to see a baseball game in your backyard, (whether it actually is yours, like for me, or not doesn’t matter). You know you’ll have a good time, see some old friends, and make some new ones.

Every year around November my dad debates whether or not he should re-order our season tickets. He always wonders if it is worth it, since there’s a lot of games where the tickets go unused. Yet this too now seems part of the Wrigley Field tradition because I know when it comes down to it, he will always end up ordering the tickets again. Whether the Cubs just had a horrible season or not, we both know it’s hard to deny a seemingly innate urge to witness first hand what they are capable of doing next season. And what better place to witness history than Wrigley Field? Opening day is just around the corner on April 7th, and like the past how many years, I won’t be at school, but rather sitting in Wrigley Field, watching my favorite baseball team kick off the best season of their careers.

Pet Peeve of the Day: Mock turtlenecks

Quote of the Day: “This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.” –Terence Mann, Field of Dreams

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Comments

  1. Leggies on 2009.04.14

    I think that entry just gave me the goosebumps a little bit. I love that this piece rings true year after year. Timeless!

  2. Karol on 2009.04.16

    Re the bucket boys: If you love them some much, take ’em home with you.
    Raygun

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