I didn’t have a Ferrari at my disposal, and wouldn’t make it to the Art Institute until later in the trip, but spending a midweek afternoon at Wrigley Field had me feeling at least a little bit like Ferris on his famous day off. Ferris certainly had a much nicer day to take in a ballgame than I ended up with. But I was on vacation, the rain mostly held off, and in all honesty, it’s pretty hard to have a bad time taking in a game at the virtually 100 year old Wrigley Field.
Shortly after the gates opened on a very blustery and damp early April day, I took a seat to catch a bit of Pittsburgh’s batting practice:
I love getting to the game early to watch batting practice. The last time I was at Wrigley, the wind was blowing straight in from centre so no one hit a BP home run. On this visit, the first thing I noticed were the flags on the top of the scoreboard: the wind was fiercely blowing to straight away centre and ball after ball was carrying out of the park. It made for a very fun batting practice. With so few people around at this early hour of the morning, I moved a little closer for a better view:
One of the great charms of Wrigley Field are its ushers. I think they are the friendliest of any park I’ve been to and most of them are great fans and historians of baseball. I had a nice conversation with a couple of ushers in the right field stands after one took this picture of me with some of the Pirates warming up behind me:
Watching BP can work up an appetite, and with the first pitch at 1:20pm, I knew lunch for me would be some ballpark fare. Wrigley isn’t really known for its food, but a Chicago staple was my lunch for this day. A traditional Chicago hot dog – neon relish, mustard, hot peppers and celery salt. It’s was mighty tasty and helped warm me up a bit:
As the Pirates were finishing their pregame warmups, their catcher (and Canadian!) Russell Martin was approached by a couple of my fellow Canadians looking for an autograph. They had brought along a Montreal Expos cap just for him to sign. This scene made me smile ear to ear:
The grounds crew took to the field to get it ready for the game and I made my way into the upper deck where my ticket said I should sit. I knew there would be a small crowd, so I got an upper deck seat with the intention to move down a bit later in the game. Wrigley is a beautiful park, and is perhaps best viewed in its entirety from the cheap seats:
I was very particular in choosing a seat for this second visit to see the Cubs. You see, the first time I took in a game here four years ago, I had the single worst seat I’ve ever had for a sporting event. There was limited selection for a late season match up with their rivals from St. Louis, and when I saw my ticket said “obstructed view” I was worried. Luckily, the nice people beside me slid down a few seats so I didn’t have to suffer with this view of that game:
I took my (much better) front row seat in the upper deck, but only after finding a delicious Goose Island 312 Urban Pale Ale. Beer and baseball go so well together!
Preliminaries out of the way, it was time for the first pitch of the game. Notice that the flags on top of the scoreboard are now showing the wind blowing straight in… that would change a few times on this very windy day:
A little bit later in the game, here are the Cubs threatening to score with runners on the corners:
The game was a great one to watch, and pretty symbolic of the Cubs existence. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead only to watch the Pirates claw back with pinch hit two-run and three-run home runs in the 7th inning to take a 5-4 lead. By that time I had made my way down to the lower level seats for the rest of the game (partly for a different view, partly to escape the frigid winds whipping through the upper deck). The announced crowd was about 25,000, but there was nowhere near that many that actually made it out to the park:
The Cubs tantalized their hometown faithful in the bottom of the 9th. Down a run, they loaded the bases to get the crowd on its feet:
But, in true Cubs fashion, the last hitter of the game weakly grounded out to first to seal a 5-4 loss. The loyal Cubs fans, let down once again, seemed resigned to this as a fact of their existence. For me, it was a great day at the old ball game.