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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.