Watching A Game At Historic Wrigley Field

I’m not one of those people who has a goal of watching a baseball game in every stadium around the country, but I do love to watch games in different ballparks if I have the chance. I’ve seen games at Camden Yards in Baltimore (beautiful), Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (dump), and several other stadiums in between. While I don’t care to see baseball games at every ballpark, there were some key locations I always wanted to hit.

Historic Wrigley Field In Chicago

Wrigley Field

Old Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field were always my ‘must-see’ ballparks. I checked Yankee Stadium off the list first in 2007 (I saw Alex Rodriguez hit a walk-off grand slam against the Orioles), watched a game at Fenway Park in 2009, and then knocked Wrigley Field off the list in June.

Wrigley Field is so different than any other ball park I’ve ever been visited (aside from maybe Fenway Park). It’s old (built in 1914), jam-packed with history, and it literally sits in a neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. Wrigley Field is surrounded by homes, apartments and bars — lots of bars — in Wrigleyville. It probably sounds strange, but it’s actually an awesome atmosphere.

Wrigley Field Sign For Chicago Cubs

The backside of Wrigley Field

The first stop we made after strolling around Wrigley Field was Murphy’s Bleachers, which is located across the street from the bleacher entrance to the stadium. Murphy’s was much bigger than I expected, especially when you judge it from the outside. The main bar wraps around to a backside where you can find yet another bar. There was even a special guest at Murphy’s before the game — former Chicago Cubs closer Lee Smith. I’m a huge fan of 1980s baseball, so I jumped at the chance to meet him. Smith wound up leading the Wrigley Field crowd in the singing of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game‘ during the seventh-inning stretch as well.

After Murphy’s, we strolled around the park some more and eventually stopped at the Captain Morgan Club, which is attached to Wrigley Field on Addison. WARNING: Don’t be lured in by the beautiful bartenders (it’s easier said than done) – beers (even a cans of Old Style — yes, Old Style) are $9, while mixed drinks are $12. It’s just not worth it (not that you needed me to tell you that).

We wanted to scope the inside of Wrigley Field as well, so we went into the ballpark early. Right before the game, my dad and I went down to the bullpen and talked to Chicago Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio. We’d met him several years before when he was a pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, but he definitely didn’t remember us (not that I expected him to). I even saw him give a look to one of the ushers like he was saying, “Who are these guys?” With that said, it was still cool to chat with another 1980s baller.

Wrigley Field Chicago | First Pitch Between The Cubs and Red Sox

First pitch between the Red Sox and Cubs

The Cubs were playing the final game of an interleague series with Boston the night we were there, so we had an awesome matchup to watch (it was only the second regular season series the Red Sox had ever played at Wrigley Field). I really loved that Wrigley Field is so intimate. It fits 41,000 fans, but it feels like 20,000 when you’re in the building. It didn’t hurt that the game was a blast as well. The Red Sox beat the Cubs that night 7-4. I even called a David Ortiz home run — on the exact pitch — in the fourth inning (click here for video — it’s at the :36 mark). I was a little disappointed in the Cubs fans though. Chicago was down late, but shortstop Starlin Castro only needed a triple to hit for the cycle. Even with the accomplishment on the line (which is almost as rare as a no-hitter) – the fans still filtered out of the ballpark before his final at bat. He didn’t end up getting it, but that was still lamest part of the night.

I’m a little embarrassed to tell the next part of my story, but I will anyway. After the game we did as all tourists do and had our pictures taken in Steve Bartman’s seat (Section 4, Row 8, Seat 113). NOTE: I don’t have the time to explain who Steve Bartman is, so click here to learn more. There were a lot of people actually lined up to take pictures in the Bartman seat. I asked an usher if that’s what it’s like at every home game and he told me that it is (but he did explain the crowd was larger than usual because the Red Sox were in town). The grounds crew didn’t think the Bartman festivities were as funny. I saw one worker look up at the crowd and say, “Seriously? C’mon, people”.

Steve Bartman Seat At Wrigley Field In Chicago

Fans taking pictures in Steve Bartman’s seat

After taking the Bartman pictures, we strolled back into Wrigleyville for a nightcap. I was expecting a much more popping postgame atmosphere, but it was actually fairly slow (it was a Sunday night though). We had some fun bouncing around to different Wrigleyville bars (I don’t remember the names of the places we went), but we eventually called it good, bringing an end to an incredible night.

For years, and years, and years I wanted to see a game at Wrigley Field, and I finally got it done. It was honestly everything I dreamed it would be. I loved everything about Wrigley Field — inside and out, so I’ll definitely be back for more!

Have you ever watched a game at Wrigley Field? What do you think of the old ballpark? I would love to hear from you! Leave a message below or connect with me on Google+, Twitter and Facebook. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on my sports and travel adventures.

Lee Smith | Meeting A Baseball Legend

I love 1980s baseball. There’s no hiding that fact. My buddies and I can throw around names from that era for hours. I’ll even go through my old baseball cards every so often just to relive the “glory days”. That means it’s a real treat when I get to meet one of the guys I idolized back then — and to some extent – still do today. Enter –> Lee Smith.

I just got back from a trip to Chicago with my dad and my brother. It was strictly a baseball vacation. We watched the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox at Wrigley Field on Sunday, June 17th, and then had tickets to all three games of the Chicago Cubs versus Chicago White Sox crosstown rivalry at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday that week.

Lee Smith Baseball

Lee Smith and me at Murphy’s Bleachers in Wrigleyville

I have to admit there’s no place in baseball that matches Wrigleyville for pregame atmosphere. I’ve been to ballparks all over the country, and the only place that even comes remotely close is Fenway Park in Boston.

It was my first trip to Wrigley Field, so we strolled around Wrigleyville before finally posting up at Murphy’s (Murphy’s Bleachers to be exact) for a couple beers. Well, luck would have it, Lee Smith was there to sign autgraphs and take pictures with fans.

SIDENOTE (for those who don’t remember or don’t know Lee Smith) >> Lee Smith is one of the best relief pitchers in Major League Baseball history. He recorded 478 saves in an 18-year career with the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, California Angels, Cincinnati Reds and Montreal Expos. He held the career saves record from 1993 to 2006, before San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman finally took the top spot (since passed by New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera). Not in the Baseball Hall of Fame yet (he’s been on the ballot since 2003), there’s an ongoing debate if Smith belongs with the game’s elite or not.

I didn’t hesitate at the chance to shake hands and get my picture taken with a legend (remember my passion for 1980s baseball). Smith, who looks more like a defensive end than a pitcher, was a friendly guy in our brief encounter. He even let me snap my picture with him for free instead of paying the $20 rate he was charging everyone else.

My Lee Smith story doesn’t end there. A different celebrity sings “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th inning stretch of every Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. It’s a tradition first started by long-time broadcaster Harry Caray, who passed away in 1998. The special guest that night we were there to see the Cubs against the Red Sox was – you guessed it (or at least you should have) — Lee Smith. Here’s the video I shot at the game (you can hear my excitement at the start of the clip):

It’s not the best rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” ever, but it was still a cool experience to hear Lee Smith lead the Wrigley Field crowd during the 7th inning stretch.

Lee Smith isn’t the only legendary baseball player I met on the trip, but that story is for another day/blog post. I’ll give you a hint though – his first name starts with an F and his last name starts with a T. Any guesses?

Have you ever met Lee Smith? How about any other 1980s baseball players? I would love to hear your stories. You can leave a comment right here, or reach me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+. As I mentioned before, I’m down to talk 80s baseball anytime!