Celebrating My 10th During Wrigley Field’s 100th

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IMG_2736As many of you know, I spent a recent weekend in the Windy City of Chicago.  I spent a lot of time walking around Chicago with my dad and doing touristy things. But the highlight of my trip was going to two baseball games at historic Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs take on my hometown Washington Nationals.  I went to both games of the day-night double header on Saturday, June 28.  That was an awesome baseball experience that I want to tell you about.

I have been very lucky to see baseball games at many major league ballparks, including Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, and AT&T Park.  I have also previously seen my favorite team, the Nats, play in their road grays in Baltimore, Miami, and Pittsburgh.  Since I turn ten later in the summer, for my birthday present I got to choose to go with my dad on a father and son trip to any ballpark in the country I wanted to go to. Because I had never been there, and because it is in the middle of its 100th birthday celebration this year, I picked to go Wrigley Field in Chicago. And thanks to the Cubs, who gave me batting practice passes for the game, I had an awesome time.

 

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We had awesome seats for the game. You see, at Wrigley Field, there are no bad seats (except for the few that are actually behind the poles that hold up the upper deck).  Unlike the newer ballparks that have 3 of 4 levels, there are only two decks of seating areas. The 200 level seats are basically on the same level as the “00 level” and the “100 level” on the 1st deck, and at most ballparks would be considered lower level.  The 400 and 500 level seats are on the 2nd deck are very long and stretch almost onto the concourse. Those seats and the bleachers out in center field are the reason the Cubs can fit 41,159 people but still feel like a Spring Training stadium.  Our seats were in Section 126, which was lower level, in the shade, and at Nationals Park would have been almost in the area of the PNC Diamond Club.

Since the 1st game and the game I went on the field was at 12:05 CDT, we got there at 9:30 local time to have enough time to walk around the ballpark, get souvenirs and meet the people from the Cubs who were taking us onto the field. We hopped on the train at Chicago-Red L train at 9 am and very soon we were at the Addison station.  At precisely 9:57 AM, even before the gates opened to the fans, we went through the Executive Entrance and met Brittany, who took us onto the field.

We didn’t go into the behind the scenes tunnels that some of the ballparks I’ve visited have.  We walked on the concourse, out to the field level seating area and then right up to the field.   I had an open expression on my face basically stating “Wow!” I stepped on the field– the same field where Babe Ruth called his shot in the 1932 World Series.  I took a few pretend practice swings because I was actually standing on Wrigley Field!

I was staring at the ivy on the wall and the rooftops out on Waveland and Sheffield Avenues.  You see, there were houses behind the stadium but the people converted their houses’ roofs into extra seating spaces. It must be awesome to sit up there. We were there for what seemed like only 20 minutes but was really an hour and 20 minutes.  The Cubs took BP, but not the Nationals, and I joked that you needed a “C” on your hat to get player to throw you a ball. The Nats were warming up in the field and taking BP in the inside batting cage which is behind a secret door built into brick wall in right field.  You can see it in this picture.

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Most teams don’t let you wear the opposing team’s logo when you go on the field.  After a while, I couldn’t take it any more and hat to put on a Nats hat.  One adult asked me after I tried to get Denard Span’s attention “Why would you want to get the Nats’ attention?” I replied “Because I am a Nats fan!” and I pointed to the big, white curly “W” on my hat.

Cubs Dugout

Cubs Dugout

When I was down on the field I noticed something very interesting: the benches in the Cubs dugout is padded with cushions and straight, while the visitors dugout is curved and has a regular bench with no cushion.  Also, the Cubs’ dugout is on the third base side because since they had no night games when Wrigley Field was built.  During the day, the sun would be shining on the 1st base side. That would put the sun in their eyes, so they made the first base side for the visitors.

After we left the field, but before the game started, I walked down to the Nationals dugout to maybe get autographs, but I was getting fried like a chicken so I decided to go back to our seats in the shade.  The Cubs’ Communications Manager, Kevin Saghy, came by to say hi and he brought me a really cool book called “A Century of Wrigley Field” as a birthday present.  He was surprised that we changed into Nats jerseys because he thought we would be changed into Cubs fans!IMG_2768

 

The game started to go by very quickly. Dallas Beeler, a righty hailing from Tulsa, made his MLB debut, and he did not disappoint. His first MLB pitch was a two seam fastball at 89 mph low and away ball 1 to Denard Span. He later struck out Ryan Zimmerman for his 1st MLB K and they threw the ball into the dugout for him.  The same thing happened after he got his first major league hit off Gio Gonzalez.  Gio was equally good that day. In the bottom of the fourth, Justin Ruggiano killed a 2-0 fastball for what looked like a home run, but Denard Span leaped and made a sensational catch.  Two batters later he turned an 8-3 double play to put the cherry on top. Finally, in the 6th, after striking out Gio and picking off Denard Span from 1st, Anthony Rendon, who doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch, scored on a Beeler changeup that got away. In the eighth, Rendon tripled home Denard Span and scored on a Zimmerman sacrifice fly. The Nats’ bullpen relieved Gio’s outstanding performance, and the Nats blanked the Cubs 3-0. It was a tough luck loss for Beeler, who pitched so well until that one ball got away. The bullpen allowed the other two runs.  The Nationals took game 1 of the double header.

Also, I know why they call Wrigley Field “the Friendly Confines.”  It’s because the Cubs fans who go to games there are so friendly.  Even when we were wearing our Nats gear, people only joked with us in a friendly way.  Can you imagine what would happen if you wore the opponent’s jersey to Yankee Stadium or Citizens Bank Park?  The Cubs fans we met were all really, really nice.  One of them even gave us his tickets for the night game of the double header because he knew that we were visiting and it was my birthday trip.  We only planned to go to one game, but we got to go to two because of the great fans.

After the game we trekked to the left field gate and out to the Ernie Banks statue to meet up with Nats fans who were also in Chicago to watch the series.  IMG_2740We found our way down Clark Street until we found a little place to have “dunch” (dinner/lunch).  We stopped into another store to get some souvenirs before hearing back into Wrigley Field. As we walked in, we bought a scorecard and a pencil for me to score the game. I also got a certificate that said “My first Wrigley Field game.”

We got there right when the gates open so there was no line.  We watched the pregame festivities.  Cubs ace Jeff Samardzjia took the hill at 6:15  Central time, and unlike game 1, the action took off almost immediately. Samardzjia and Blake Treinen, who got the call for the Nats, both pitched 1-2-3 1st innings, but that would change in the top of the 2nd. Adam LaRoche connected on a 2-2 pitch for a solo shot, the 2nd by LaRoche  that series and the 2nd the entire 4 game series. The next inning, Rendon sac flied home Nate McLouth, who was taking Denard Span’s role in CF for that game. In the bottom of the 4th, Luis Valbuena hit a line drive that usually would have bounced off the wall, but due to the massive winds it sailed to Sheffield Avenue for a souvenir for a ballhawk. It started getting very windy and dark clouds moved in very fast.  It started to drizzle.  Later that inning, after a 87 mph changeup dealt by Treinen to Nate Schierholtz, home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt called the Nats off the field and for the tarp to be placed on the historic field. We waited through a 55-minute rain delay, highlighted by a person who was “swimming,” as in doing freestyle stroke on top of the Budweiser Bleachers in pouring rain. That was entertaining to the half that did not rush to the concourse during the delay.

The game resumed at 8:10 CDT, with a foul ball by Schierholtz. Treinen later struck him out. To lead off the 5th, Wilson Ramos got a fastball and drove it out of the park to give the Nats a 3-2 lead. After that the offense exploded, with three other runners coming home and some sloppy defense by Anthony Rizzo at first with some balls that should’ve ended the inning but instead brought more and more runners home. The offense settled down after that, Nate McLouth hitting a double off the glove of Rizzo. In the bottom half of that inning, Rizzo skied a deep fly ball that again looked like it would be a home run, but McLouth jumped and like Denard Span earlier, he made a sensational jumping catch.

After the Cubs got out of the Top of the 7th, the WGN 720 AM radio team sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”  Below is a picture from the day game.  If you look closely, you can see F.P. Santangelo and Bob Carpenter and then Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler two boxes over.

7th Inning Stretch at Wrigley Field.

7th Inning Stretch at Wrigley Field.

The Nats ended up winning the second game of the double-header too, and split the series with the Cubs 2-2.  It was awesome to celebrate my birthday in Chicago and actually go on Wrigley Field.  How many kids my age can say they “called their shot” there? I am really thankful that the Cubs organization made this trip so special for me.

I was really lucky to visit Wrigley Field on its 100th birthday.  In the future, I am going to write a review of the awesome book Kevin gave me.  If you and your kids can’t wait, I also wrote about the history of Wrigley Field and Fenway Park in these books for kids.

I really recommend a visit to Wrigley Field.  It is historic and there are great views of the game.  The fans are also so nice.

Keep reading to see some other pictures we took at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

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Between-innings entertainment at Wrigley Field. There are no t-shirt cannons and no games.

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Thanks to Kevin Saghy and the Cubs for the great birthday present!

 

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