I remember being five years old and sitting in the left-field bleachers of Wrigley Field with my father and his friend, sipping on a pop. With my mitt on my left hand, my Cubs hat on my head, and my Mark Grace t-shirt jersey on, I was ready for any possible ball that would come my way.
It was May 6th, 1998, and the Chicago Cubs were playing the Houston Astros. On that day Kerry Wood would strike out 20 hitters and give up just one hit in what was one of the most dominating pitching performances in baseball history. It was the first Cubs game I ever attended.
The historic Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, turns 100 this year, and ever since my first Cubs game in 1998, I’ve loved visiting that park.
Living in Northwest Indiana all my life I vividly remember taking the South Shore train from East Chicago to Millennium station, walking a few blocks to the Red Line and taking that to Wrigleyville to go see the Cubs play. It was a lot of fun as a teenager to go to Cubs games. It was relatively cheap, and visiting the city was always a welcome change to the respectable but sometimes boring lifestyle that is Midwestern living.
Wrigleyville always seemed to come alive on game days. Vendors are out in force, selling anything from self-printed t-shirts to peanuts, and are strategically placed at every street corner. If you were smart, you knew to buy a bag of peanuts outside the gate rather than inside.
Wrigley Field is a landmark if you’re a Cubs fan. To many others it’s a dump. Sure, the park probably needs to be renovated, but it had and still does have character. The only people who will tear down the field are the fans when, in an act of gleeful anarchy, the Cubs finally win another World Series. At that point we may will burn it down.
Back when I was younger, the park sold out every game no matter what the Cubs’ record was, making the walking areas too small for the 40,000-ish people the park can hold. The bathrooms are notorious for their trough-style urinals. Going to a Cubs game typically meant seeing the Cubs lose and 10-12 other guys’ junk while visiting the restroom in between innings.
Nowadays, the attendance has waned, and for good reason – the Cubs still suck. I may not consider myself a Cubs fan, but I do consider myself a Wrigley Field fan. It’s a park that carries a lot of memories for me. Not ones of the Cubs winning, but of ones where friendships strengthened and timeless memories were made, and that’s perfectly fine with me.