Behind the scenes at Wrigley

As I get ready for my upcoming trip to Chicago in a couple of weeks, one of the things I’m really looking forward to is (weather permitting) getting to my second Cubs game at Wrigley field.   Four years ago, my wife and I snagged upper deck seats for a late season afternoon game against the Cardinals and had a great time.   We also carved out some time to do a tour of Wrigley Field to see it in a quieter setting and to get a bit of a behind the scenes peek.

The morning tour started in the famed bleachers, and from here, you can fairly easily feel the history of the place:

Bleachers at Wrigley Field

Turning around while standing in the back row of the bleachers, you realize how close the rooftop seats on top of the houses across the street are.  On nice summer days, those seats are packed with fans peeking in on the game from outside the stadium.  There would probably be a pretty nice view from up there:

Wrigley rooftops

Wrigley was originally opened in 1914 and became the home of the Cubs in 1916.  In all of those years, the Cubs have never won a World Series.  To digress for a moment, when I feel bad about never having cheered for a championship winning team, I think about Cubs fans and feel a bit better.  Then I remember that they at least haven’t lost their team.  Allow me a brief moment of silence for my Expos.

Now, where was I?  Right, the friendly confines of Wrigley…..

The tour moved on from the bleachers into the Wrigley press box.  The day of the tour was the day after the last Cubs home game, so they were installing the glass back on the press box windows to seal it up for the winter.  Perched high above home plate, you have a great view out over the stadium, the ivy covered outfield walls and the iconic scoreboard in centre field:

View from Wrigley Field press box

If you ever have a chance to tour Wrigley and are even remotely interested in baseball, you have to take this tour.  The guides are all well versed in Cubs and baseball history.  I wished there was time after the tour to buy our guide a beer so I could keep listening to his stories of watching games over the years.

The tour continued downstairs and into the Cubs dressing room.  Not at all spacious or luxurious in this very old stadium:

Chicago Cubs clubhouse

A great feature of this tour is getting to set foot on the field and to actually be able to spend quite a bit of time down there.  I loved hopping up onto the bench in the visitor’s dugout to get the ballplayer view.  I also couldn’t resist taking a drink from the water fountain in the dugout either:

Being on the field at Wrigley was something really special.   I loved seeing the perspective from field level – the size of the park, how close the upper deck and the bleachers were.  What was striking was just how small the park is.  I can imagine visiting players are able to hear all of the taunting given how close the fans are:

Field level at Wrigley Field

Spinning around, here’s the view down the left field line.  From here you can pick out the seat that “Bartman” sat in when he obstructed a sure out the last time the Cubs were in the playoffs, possibly costing them a trip to the World Series.  Seeing how close the foul line is to the seats, I probably would have done the same thing.  Shame for him that he had to go into witness protection for years for his transgression:

Field level at Wrigley Field

The charm of Wrigley is that it is a relatively unchanged environment for watching baseball throughout the years.   There’s been some seats added, the lights were installed in the late eighties for night games, and there are now a few digital scoreboards, but you have the sense that being here isn’t that much different than it would have been for Cubs fans in the 40s or 50s.   The tour, full of history, just reinforced that.  It was easily the most comprehensive stadium tour I’ve been on.  I can’t wait to set foot in Wrigley again in two weeks to see another game!

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