Chicago – Wrigley Field – Ballpark #3
As the fireworks disappeared from our rear view mirrors and we were on our way to Chicago, via St. Louis, Chuck started noticing that the truck wasn’t handling good. A look at the gauges showed us that there was a tire that was more than a little low. A not so quick stop for air, plus some gas and a couple 5 hour energy’s for Chuck and we were back on the road and running smoothly. The drive was long and not that easy at all. I really feel that people have no idea how hard a trip like this is to do until you have done it. It’s not just all fun & games and I was getting my first taste of this night # 2. I can drive forever, I can drive until I run outta gas without any issues. In the last 3 summers I have made runs to the Bay Area, either Oakland or San Francisco for games, which is about a 12 hour drive from where I live, without blinking an eye. However, when you are going on fumes after flying 1/2 way across the country, being up all day and then knowing you have a long drive ahead of you, it just makes you that much more tired. There were a few highlights on the drive though. Be that seeing the Arch in St. Louis all lit up, or when Chuck started to realize that even while driving a Dodge Ram truck, we were burning through gas in a hurry, so we pulled into a station to fill up and I noticed a knob on the dash that indicated that were were in full on 4-wheel drive and once it sunk into Chuck he yells out, “Holy Fuck, EH!?” I honestly thought I was going to piss my pants laughing at that! Little did we know that #HFE would go on to become a big part of our time on the road.
After putting the truck into 2-wheel drive we noticed a big difference in gas mileage, thankfully. The rest of the trip, up until the crack of dawn, was filled with short stops at either rest areas, gas stations or even one time we stopped at a 7-11 for a quick cat nap. It’s funny how a 15-20 minute nap can really refresh you to go another hour or so, if not longer. This is what we did right up until the sun finally came up and it hit us, to quote the movie “Rookie Of The Year”, “WE’RE GOING TO THE CUBS GAME!”
Just outside of Chicago we started running over the game plan again. Chuck would drop me off at O’Hare, I would take a couple of our bags with me, the smaller ones (easier to carry) and I would catch the shuttle out to get our new car from Advantage. He would go return the truck, load up the rest of our stuff on the shuttle there, then meet me back where he dropped me off for the shuttle at O’Hare. I would then pick him up, load up the car and make our way towards Wrigley Field. The plan was executed to near perfection. The only glitch, a minor one at that, was that the shuttle I needed didn’t pick up where I was and I had to go chasing after it while, but I did eventually catch up to it a few blocks away. I bet I was a sight to see, running up the block in my crocks, red Oklahoma jacket on, wearing shorts, with a duffle bag strapped over my shoulder, briefcase in one hand and a laptop case in the other. Honestly, who cares?! I mean, I had to catch that shuttle so I could get the car and meet Chuck. Nothing was going to stop me!
The drive from O’Hare to Wrigley was pretty uneventful, which is always nice. The closer we would get to the North Side, the more our juices started flowing. Once we could see the lights at Wrigley, forget about it, we were full blown going crazy! Parking around Wrigley, well, sucks. You either pay an arm and a leg, or you pay 2 arms and a leg. Your choice. We chose to go with the later, that put us in a lot that guaranteed us an easy out and that we wouldn’t be blocked in. It was $5 more than the normal spots, so we jumped on it. We were attempting the 1st doubleheader of my trip today (Wrigley/Miller), an important one for Doug that he needed to nail and to be able to get out of our parking spot easily would be well worth the extra $5 in the end run. As it was our parking spot was super close to Wrigley Field. Closer than I have ever parked before. Was kinda cool.
There is something special about going to a game at Wrigley Field, sitting in the bleachers with the rest of the “Bleacher Bums” and just enjoying the game. Win or Lose, it’s awesome. Today, however, would be more special as we were meeting up with Wrigley Field Ballpark Expert Bob DeVries and his friend Dan. The plan was to meet before the game at Murphy’s Bleachers, just across Sheffield Avenue from the entrance to the bleachers at Wrigley. After we parked our car, we made our walk up Addison, turned on Sheffield and headed straight to Murphy’s. The scene outside of Wrigley is a crazy one that close to game time. People buying souvenirs, people trying to buy or sell tickets to the game and just general merriment. Always fun walking through that. However, our mission was to get to Murphy’s and partake of a few cold ones. Once we got there it was, of course, packed! That didn’t stop us and once we finally made our way through the thick crowd and got inside we found Bob and Dan awaiting.
Murphy’s Bleachers is a great place for a pregame beer or 4. The history alone of this place is so cool. All the Cubs memorabilia they have inside is just awesome. As we stood there talking with Bob & Dan, Chuck was sharing road stories and we discussed our exit plan for after the game, it hit me: I WAS GOING TO A GAME AT WRIGLEY FIELD! I was so excited. I took everything in that I could. While people watching I noticed this guy walking around wearing a Twins jacket that kinda looked familiar. A few minutes after I spotted him, he walks up to the bar right next to me. Since I was going to be in Minneapolis the next two days and was curious if he had any suggestions for things to do or an off beat place to eat, I asked him “Are you from Minneapolis?” He replied with, “No, but when your brother is the teams manager, you kinda gotta be a fan.” AH HA! That’s why he looked familiar, he looks a lot like his brother, Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire. We talked for a few minutes, that was kinda cool. Good guy.
After what was probably too many beers (is that possible?) at 11:30am (on a Saturday, and I’m on vacation!) we headed over to the ballpark. We grabbed what was the last row of seats in the lower section of the bleachers, right against the back railing (which is nice because we were able to lean up against it during the game). The main problem with these seats is that we were right by the section where you walk down, so the wind would blow right up that concourse and straight on to us! It got kinda chilly in a hurry. It’s freakin’ Chicago in April, what did you expect?!?
I have said for years, since my first game at Wrigley, that there is something magical about being there. I have gone to as many games as I possibly could at Wrigley. Heck, even my wife has joined me for a couple games. I am often asked which ballpark I like the best: Wrigley or Fenway. I do so love my Red Sox, but nothing beats an afternoon at Wrigley Field, in the bleachers, with your friends. Today, that is exactly what I was going to do.
The game was a good one, exciting to start off as the Reds got a run in the 1st, but the Cubs tied it up in the bottom half. In the 2nd inning the Cubs scored 4 runs on 5 hits, including a 2B by Barney and a 3B by Castro! HR’s are nice and all, but watching someone leg out a 3B is awesome! The Cubs added another run in the 7th as well to win 6-1.
The majority of the afternoon was spent just talking with Chuck, Bob & Dan. I can’t really even remember who it was that did the 7th Inning Stretch that day, how sad is that? A big reason for that though is that a couple innings prior to this a group of guys started chanting for one of them to put a Cubs helmet on. Oh, but this wasn’t just any Cubs helmet, it was one of those souvenir helmets that people can get now filled with nachos. Someone had ate maybe 1/2 of them and dared this guy to put it on his head. What we found out is that he said he would for $200, so people started collecting $ to get this done. It became a really big thing out in the bleachers with people chanting “Na-cho Hat! Na-cho Hat! Na-cho Hat!” The best part is when the finally collected the money, just over $260 actually, it looked like he wasn’t going to do it after all, and this gal in front of us yelled, “Do it nacho bitch”! Finally, after the stretch, he donned the hat. I gotta say, I was hoping to see nacho cheese running down his face, with the occasional falling jalepeno… but nothing! While people were going nuts over it, I was kinda disappointed really.
Before I knew it, it was time to get ready to go. We started our walk towards the gate and as we got up the women in front of us freaked out! Funny thing is that when you have big guys like us blocking the wind all game for you, when we leave, it hits you! So funny to hear them screaming how cold it was, yeah, no kidding, huh!? Wanna feel my ass? It’s a frozen rock! For some reason, even though Doug was riding with Bob and Dan, I went ahead and left a little early to get to my car and be ready to go by the final out. I did, however, take my time as I walked through Wrigleyville. I took it all in, stopped for a few pictures. Just enjoyed it while I could before getting to the car. The $ Chuck spent on that parking spot was well worth it as I was able to pull right out onto Addision and I was almost to the freeway before I realized it. Funny thing is that any time I am in that area after a Cubs game, my car always makes a stop at White Castle as it is only a couple more blocks to the Kennedy Expressway from there.
With my bag of sliders, I hit I-94 and was off to Milwaukee. Chuck was safely in the car with Bob and Dan and on his way to Milwaukee as well…
Visitors 2, Home 1
Here is a link to my pictures from Wrigley Field.