A Love Letter to Wrigley Field: Home of the Chicago Cubs

Have you ever fallen in love and thought, this can’t be happening? We have absolutely nothing in common. What will we even talk about? I fell into a lifelong love affair starting in my 20s that took me by surprise.

With the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field turning 100 this month, I’m outing myself and publicly declaring my love for this monument of baseball.

I am an avid hater of professional sports. Most people are gonzo for their special team, even considering it a member of the family. However, I grew up avoiding sports on television. There were a million things I would rather be doing. About the only sport on my family’s television was tennis. It was the heyday of the sport with McEnroe, Connors, Evert and Navratilova. Who wouldn’t have wanted to watch?

And then I had a life-altering event — I moved to Chicago. The Chicago Bulls had six recent championships under their belt. The Chicago White Sox now had three World Series championships. But it was the ever floundering Chicago Cubs that caught my heart.

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When I moved to Chicago, I found myself in the neighborhood of Lakeview. This neighborhood is made up of a number of unofficial sections, including Wrigleyville where Wrigley Field is located. The field was close enough for me to hop a 10-minute bus andΒ  just far enough away that I didn’t have to fight the summer parking schedule and tourists.

The first time I had the chance to go to see the Chicago Cubs play, I figured it would be a great way to spend some time with the girls. A friend of mine had managed to wrangle seats a few rows back from the field right next to first base. The clear, sunny sky was a brilliant blue, which made the shock of green on the playing field that much more bold. The older stadium doesn’t have all of the huge private boxes and architecture muddying the view. Instead, you feel like you’re taking a step back into time to the heart of where baseball began. Wrigley Field, no matter what you think of baseball, is truly a sight to behold.

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Chicagoans will be the first to tell you — if you are a true baseball nut, you follow the Chicago White Sox. You will know all of the stats, the history of each player and watch every game. If you are not, you follow the Chicago Cubs. What many Sox fans don’t necessarily understand is that going to a Chicago Cubs baseball game isn’t just about going to see baseball — it’s about community, family and Chicago.

Going to a game is a full blown experience. When I was in my 20s, it meant grabbing a drink with friends to kick off a wonderfully lazy afternoon of sunning myself in the bleachers before heading on to the locals bars well into the evening. Were the Cubs winning during the game? Probably not, but we still held them close to our hearts. In my 30s, it felt like coming home every time I entered the stadium. By then I lived within an easy walk to Wrigley Field with my husband and reveled being so close to the neighborhood. Gone were the marathon days of hanging out with friends but not the love of going.

Now that I’m in my 40s, I can’t wait for my kids to go to their first baseball game. What better gift than to have it be at Wrigley Field. We’ll hop the red line down on the L to take in the game. I can’t wait to see their expressions as they’re delightfully overwhelmed by the whole spectacle of the stadium. It’s a moment no parent should have to miss.

I still don’t know who the players are and I don’t necessarily know their current stats. That’s not particularly important to me. The love of what baseball represents, the community of experiencing a game together and the intertwined connection to Chicago is what has kept this love affair with Wrigley Field going for 16 years.

For me, Wrigley Field isn’t just a revered baseball stadium. It is a place I felt embraced as being a part of the kick-ass city of Chicago. It is a magical experience I shared with friends. It is what makes me proud to say that although I wasn’t born in Chicago and now live in the ‘burbs, I am a Chicago citizen through my core.

7 Comments

  1. Great post.

    You are so lucky to be near one of the great ballparks from the “Golden Age of Ballparks” that is still standing.

    Take them as soon as possible. I took my daughter to her first A’s game at four months, my son at nine months (he was born at the end of the season) and have had many great moments at the yard. Now, they take turns getting to the park hours before it opens on big give-a-away days, just to make sure we get one.

    I have taken my kids to college, minor league and both major-league parks in my area. It is memories that they will cherish forever.

  2. I’ve lived just a short distance from the IL/IN border, and practically in Chicago’s backyard my entire life. I’m in that part of Indiana that is more Illinois – and especially Chicago – than Indiana. While the rest of Indiana is on EST and until recently didn’t change time back and forth with Daylight Savings Time, we are on CST and have always kept pace with Chicago. The South Shore Line carries hundreds of people into the Loop daily – and is pretty much the only public transportation we have. You see cars and mini-vans with stickers and specialty license plates showing pride for the various Chicago sports teams (with a few Colts fans thrown in the mix – especially after they beat the Bears in the Super Bowl a few years ago).

    When it came to baseball, my dad and brother were White Sox fans, while my mom – and me, by default, rooted for the Cubs. I remember when Fergie Jenkins came to my grade school and I was able to meet him (I kick myself now that I didn’t have foresight, as a kid, to get his autograph). I remember my mom listening to Cubs games on the radio while she did housework, and playing the record album that came out in 1069 when the Cubs were doing so well (and still failed to go all the way). My older sister stayed out of the North Side – South Side debate.

    Every Chicago sports team has had a championship in my lifetime (the Bulls with their amazing run had me listening to the games on the radio in my mini-van while my oldest was at her rehearsals for the Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker). Neither my father or brother were here to see the Sox win the World Series, and my mom was never able to celebrate a Cubs championship. I’m still hopeful I’ll see the Cubs take it all – one of these years. According to the movie Back to the Future II, the Cubs will win next year. Wouldn’t it be unbelievable if they actually did? LOL!

    I don’t get to many games, but will definitely be going to at least one this year. I need to celebrate 100 years at Wrigley Field. I’m glad they haven’t modernized it more than adding lights for night games. It’s not just a stadium. It’s a piece of history. After all, I cringe every time I drive past Solider Field and see the monstrosity that looks like a giant UFO has landed on what used to be a beautiful stadium. I just hope Wrigley Field stays as it is for many years to come.

    1. Linda — I just loved reading your comment. It’s true that every Chicago sports team has had a championship but the Cubs! (Do we really need to bring a goal into the field to get one?) And I didn’t remember the part in Back to the Future II… I’ll have to go check it out! πŸ™‚

      1. In Back to the Future II, it’s shortly after Marty first goes to the future. He’s by the clock tower and the old man asked him for a donation to save the tower. On a big video screen, it flashes “Cubs win the World Series”. The old man makes the comment that if only he could go back to the beginning of the season and bet on them – that’s what gives Marty the idea to get the book that ends up causing all the trouble.

  3. You are lucky to have that connection with something so full of Culture. Chicago in itself is culture filled, but to have that sense of pride and bond with Wrigley is amazing and I’m completely jelly! We don’t have anything like that where I’m from… πŸ˜€

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