Chicago Cubs

It’s a Temple to me

   In 2006 Adam Niemi took the eight hour trip with his family to finally see a game at Wrigley Field. Adam shares his experience and offers insight to the big effect that a new ballpark name would do to the most loyal fans on earth.    For as long as I can remember, I was mesmerized by the Cubs baseball games on WGN. Even at a young age, I realized that they don’t play many night games at home. Do the Chicago Cubs ever play night games at Wrigley? I wondered.

    I always found myself cheering for these Cubs. I grew to like the white uniform with the blue pinstripes. I’d never been to a Major League baseball game up to that time, but I’d been able to get a hint of the ballpark’s smell when the cameras panned the crowd. After watching Mark Grace hit a home run, I knew that someday Wrigley Field had to be a destination point for me.

    After a Wrigley visit became my dream, I was teased by watching them every chance I could. Derrek Lee hit a walkoff home run, Michael Barrett hit a grand slam in the late innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. At that point, I wanted to be there more than ever.

    My fortunes changed when my parents made the decision to make a Chicago trip; eight-hour drive there, eight-hour drive back home. The game I chose to get tickets for was in late August, during my football season. It wasn’t even a close decision. The day after I ordered tickets, I told my coach at practice I wouldn’t be at practice for three days. I was recovering from three broken ribs in June and a rebreak during the first week of August, so football wasn’t fun anyway.

    The game took place on Aug. 22 against the Philadelphia Phillies. My uncle Shane and his wife-to-be, Apryl, joined us hours after we had arrived, I had ordered six tickets and invited them along.

    We were all going to stay at a friend’s house in St. Charles and take a train into Chicago, which would be an hour’s ride. The family’s place we stayed at owns a cabin up here, on the beaches of Lake Superior, across the road from my house.

    The Cubs were in the midst of what would end up being a 96-loss season. The Phillies were rolling and Ryan Howard was working on his fifty-eight home run season.

    We took the train into Chicago in the morning, so we had most of the day to explore the town a bit. Shane and Apryl went to check out the aquarium while we went to the Field Museum.

    Blah blah blah, I was waiting to get to Wrigley!

    After our three-hour tour of the museum, we had eaten at a McDonald’s under the museum and then I got very pumped up when my mom said, “Let’s take a taxi to Wrigley.” Now you’re talking, Mom!

    We hopped in a cab and disappointed the cab driver when he learned that he had to take us across the city. After taking Lakeshore Drive, I watched for street signs and I started feeling anxious when we turned onto West Addison.

    It’s hard to expect to see a ballpark while driving by apartments and bars. There’s a fire department a block away from Wrigley’s left field. We drove by another fire department on Addison. I kept watching for Wrigley to pop up out of the apartment skyline.

    We drove under the red line train and then I knew we were close. I started seeing more people, and my surprises climaxed when Wrigley jutted out from the apartments and bars.

    I smirked.

    The cab driver let us out, and my dad gave him an extra tip for having to take us a long way. I took control of the camera and took as many pictures as I could. Pictures that would last me until I could get back there, if I ever could.

    After checking out the small stores and sellers on the sidewalk, I split off from my family and got in line to get into Wrigley–two hours and twenty minutes before the first pitch. Gotta watch batting practice! You just have to – it’s when you can get close to the players and take in the stadium at the same time.

    Later on, my family came in and found me in the general area I said I’d be. The view in person was amazing. The ivy walls, the jutting classic scoreboard in center. Most of the best players of all-time have walked that same field and took in the same sights.

    Wrigley Field is the last standing National League ballpark that Jackie Robinson played in. It’s a complete understatement to say it’s a special place. I’ll never forget the narrow concourse with the brick walkway, like a European street.

    The 6:05 game started and our seats were magical. I put us in one of the last rows of section 209, on the third base side. They were awesome seats because you could listen to the echo of the crowd, but I remember the unique view of the game. There’s a private suite section that hangs below the upper deck, narrowing the vertical view of people farther back in the lower deck (our seats).

     That, coupled with the support beams on either side of my view of the infield and the crowd on the bottom, it made a sort of frame to look through onto the game. I’ve never forgotten how enchanting it was to finally experience a Cubs game at Wrigley.

    The Cubs lost the game 6-3,  but who hadn’t seen a Cubs’ loss in 2006? I still had an awesome time. I always tell people that being a big Cubs fan and going to a game at Wrigley is like being a devout Christian going to the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

    Wrigley Field is an icon for baseball, a monastery for fans wanting to see a glorious game played in a heavenly setting.

    Who would think to change its name and smear its history? It reminds me of that little kid who took the gum out of his mouth and stuck it on the Mona Lisa. Thanks, ya little jerk!

    Corporate invasion of Wrigley is like the world’s nicest lady being mugged by a man who bought rights to do it. The Under Armour ads on the doors in the outfield hurt my eyes enough. If a new name will be changed by a company, then I think fans should group up to buy naming rights for the company that purchased the naming rights for Wrigley. Wouldn’t that be sweet?

     That company would try changing the name to, for example: Wrigley Field by Sprint. The fans change Sprint’s name to, “Sprint sucks.” Something simple, long names aren’t attractive. Besides, there’s not much room for long titles at the top of skyscrapers.

    If Wrigley’s name were changed, I wouldn’t stop watching games. I wouldn’t stop rooting for the Cubs. I would be offended. Advertisements are like mosquitoes that I want to slap away.

     Wrigley Field is great, and ballparks are designed to bring the experience that Wrigley does, but they just doesn’t compare. Why? Because you don’t see advertisements around the field. Besides the Under Armour ads in the doors and the small LED boards on both sides of the upper deck, try spotting me an ad in the ballpark. You can’t do it.

     Fans love Wrigley mostly for its beauty, but also because they feel safe from companies hounding and molesting their eyes during the game.

     Isn’t baseball supposed to be entertainment away from our lives? Isn’t it supposed to be a place to walk into and forget about life on the outside?

     The only advertising I want to see at any point during the game, are the vendors walking the aisles and people selling programs and team merchandise. And taxi cabs advertising their yellow signs on the tops of their cars after the game. That’s it.

     The ivy in the outfield hasn’t bloomed yet this spring, some seats are empty beacuse of the frigid cold.

    Let’s hope those are some of the only changes that happen at Wrigley Field.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *