Today is the celebration of 100 years of Wrigley Field — so much history, so much nostalgia, so much … losing.
But also so much more. I learned so much about baseball while taking in a game at the Friendly Confines. And there’s no better place for a girl to bond with her dad than Wrigley.
My favorite memories of Wrigley include my dad taking me to a Cubs-Mets game for my 15th birthday. It was August 1984 and would be the first time in my memory that the they finished above .500 and also were on their way to making the playoffs. Of course, everyone had in mind the historic collapse of 1969. I was born during that disaster, but I knew the outcome all too well.
It was the Mets who capitalized on that collapse, so this game had particular meaning and lived up to its billing. The Cubs won – after a fight in the stands and Keith Moreland charging the mound in signature fashion – a rolling block worthy of his past as a Texas Longhorn football player. The rivalry with the Cardinals may be the biggest, but it is the conflict with the Mets that is the meanest.
And that brings me to my other favorite memory. My husband and I were in the stands for an early interleague game against the White Sox. As a Cub fan, I am – of course – adamantly against change, so I hate interleague play almost as much as I hate this new replay system.
It was a freezing day in May, but it managed to do the impossible – unite Cubs and Sox fans. We noticed a guy in a luxury box who came out on the concourse. He was so uninterested in the game that he was facing away from the field. For all of us who were freezing and watching the game, this seemed like an outrage. Slowly a murmur spread throughout our section, followed by some choice words being yelled at the privileged and misguided man, and unified chants of “Go inside. Go inside.” Then people started throwing trash at him. They were unsuccessful at first because the plastic beer cups wouldn’t travel that far – until they jammed them with foil hot dog wrappers. Success was greeted with loud cheers when the trash finally reached the luxury box level. Ushers came in and put a stop to the fun, but for 30 minutes, Cubs and Sox fans found a common enemy.
I often tell people that my dad passed down a genetic disease to me – for that is sometimes how I feel about being a Cub fan.
Like anyone who’s stuck with a bad boyfriend for too long, the Cubs and I are taking a break. I can’t be a part of that destructiveness anymore.
But it won’t be long before they suck me back in – promising they’ve changed and that this time they mean it. They’ll promise to treat me better, but I know it won’t last. Yet, I also know that I’ll go back all the same.
Remembering Wrigley wouldn’t be complete without the best quote ever on the park, which not surprisingly preceded yet another heartbreaking disappointment. Vin Scully opened the broadcast of the 1989 playoffs between the Cubs and Giants this way:
“She stands alone at the corner of Clark and Addison, this dowager queen, dressed in basic black and pearls, seventy-five years old, proud head held high and not a hair out of place, awaiting yet another date with destiny, another time for Mr. Right. She dreams as old ladies will of men gone long ago. Joe Tinker. Johnny Evers. Frank Chance. And of those of recent vintage like her man Ernie. And the Lion (Leo Durocher). And Sweet Billy Williams. And she thinks wistfully of what might have been, and the pain is still fresh and new, and her eyes fill, her lips tremble, and she shakes her head ever so slightly. And then she sighs, pulls her shawl tightly around her frail shoulders, and thinks: This time, this time it will be better.”