Three friends who love the Michigan State Spartans took a road trip to see a baseball game at Wrigley Field. Not one of us is a self-proclaimed Cubs fan, but instead root for the Tigers, Blue Jays, and White Sox. Even so, as baseball fans we wanted to experience the authentic Wrigleyville atmosphere since this would the first time for each of us in the park. Our friend Kurt, fellow New Buffalo teacher, wanted to see a ball game with us this summer and thought that a Cubs game would be a fun adventure.
We picked the date and reserved the Chicago Cubs tickets vs. the Boston Red Sox without knowing just how iconic this game would be. The two oldest and most historic fields in Major League Baseball are Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Today was the first game of the series this weekend that the Red Sox would play the Cubs at Wrigley Field since 2012, a decade ago. The two teams have only played against one another 21 times and only six of them have been in Chicago. It also took almost 100 years of Wrigley’s existence for the Red Sox to play the Cubs in their home stadium for the first time in 2005. Seeing the Boston Red Sox play the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field is very rare. (Chicago Cubs with Rare Series, Da Windy City)
All week we were looking forward to this game. Each day the weather was sunny and warm but Friday forecasted a 40-60% chance of rain and thunderstorms. Hoping that we might dodge the rain and still play ball, we carried on with our plans and carpooled together from Chesterton to Chicago. It was great catching up with Kurt in conversation as we drove a surprisingly low traffic trip to the city. The Cubs’ website uses SpotHero parking so we found a garage less than half a mile from the stadium. We admired the old homes and quaint streets while walking through the neighborhood. Our friend and former NBHS principal, Wayne, who is also a die-hard Cubs fan recommended Sluggers Sports Bar just outside the stadium for lunch where we enjoyed burgers and wings before the game.
We entered Wrigley Field with about an hour until the first pitch so we had time to walk the stadium and watch the players warm up in their dark blue “Wrigleyville” uniforms with light blue socks after the grounds crew prepped the field. We lapped each level checking out the gift shops and restaurants all the while getting a little closer the field to see the stadium from different viewpoints. Kurt struck up a conversation with an usher from Michigan who liked his Detroit Tigers T-Shirt and I bought a Wrigley Field T-Shirt as a souvenir of my own. The stadium felt quite intimate and much smaller in size than other major sporting venues that we’ve attended.
One of the unique Wrigleyville details behind the brick and ivy-covered outfield walls is the manual scoreboard displayed alongside their modern-day billboard screens. Each inning, scores are placed in by hand with number cards displaying the runs. (Inside Wrigley Field, Scorekeepers Stay True to Baseball’s Beginnings, NPR)
As the game kicked off, the Red Sox looked ready to roll for an easy win after the first pitch landed a home run from Jarren Duran. Boston was predicted to win this game coming off a 20-6 winning streak in June. In the second inning, the Red Sox were up 4-0 and the visiting fans were having a field day. We weren’t sure if the Cubs could pull off a W for the day. Then the bases were loaded and the Cubs walked to 1st bringing the score up to 4-3 by the 5th inning. I made a quick concessions run and picked up a bag of my favorite popcorn: the classic Chicago Mix by Garrett with half cheddar and half caramel corn. By the 7th inning stretch, spirits were high and we sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” while swaying to the music. (Ahem…I modified one line of the song by adding Root, root, root for the White Sox!)
The pressure was on and the Cubs fans started getting to their feet cheering as the live organ tunes hummed along for the relief pitchers to keep their fight in the game. The true stars of the game were Christopher Morel who launched a two-run home run and Ian Happ with 4 base hits to take the lead to 6-5.
In the top of the 9th inning, the crowd was on their feet with 2 outs with the Cubs defending the field from the Red Sox up at bat. As the relief pitcher threw the last strike-out, the stadium went into a celebration and the Cubby remerged from his den to wave the victory flag for a comeback win! Despite the rainy forecasts, it had barely sprinkled for a breezy and sunny afternoon game. It was the perfect way to end the day in Wrigleyville together. Go Cubbies!