My visit to Chicago for the 2015 SABR Convention couldn’t be complete without a visit to the legendary Wrigley Field for a Cubs game. And on Thursday, I did just that.
To make it extra special, I was lucky enough to go on the field before the game. It was amazing experience to stand on the dirt behind home plate in what many consider the cathedral of MLB stadiums. As my Nikes shifted in the dirt, I could imagine Babe Ruth calling his shot in the 1932 World Series just feet away from where I was standing.
I stood in line with the other fans and fellow SABR members Jacob Pomrenke and his wife (and huge Cubs fan) Tracy Greer. Jacob’s new book on the Black Sox Scandal, Scandal on the South Side, and his all-around baseball trivia expertise made every corner of the trip extra special. He’s like a smart guy who knows about baseball history from centuries ago but is so nuts about the sport that he’s as enthusiastic as a kid at his first ballgame.
Although the team skipped batting practice after the previous night’s game, I was still able to watch pitchers like Joel Peralta and Mike Bolsinger play catch in the outfield and stretch out before the game. It was especially meaningful to stand right behind the logo that is on the Cubs’ field behind the plate that honors the memory of Cubs legend Ernie Banks, who passed away in January. They are definitely doing their best to remember Mr. Cub and his famous line, “Let’s Play Two!”
It was also great to see how many young kids were at the game, screaming for players on both teams to sign autographs or take selfies. And Bolsinger and Peralta helped make it a special moment by signing and taking shots for the kids who surrounded them.
I was especially excited for the game because it would be the first time I would get to see Kris Bryant, the Cubs’ new up-and-coming star. He is sure to be a power hitter for years to come. But last night, Bryant left the game in the fourth inning with flu-like symptoms.
Still, the other fans and I also got to see Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, who the Cubs signed this offseason to a megadeal with hopes of bringing the team a World Series title. Lester has great potential, but yesterday he was roughed up early in a Cubs loss. The Dodgers won 4-0, having scored all their runs in the first two innings.
Despite the L, I still enjoyed the game and the incredible vibe of Chicago baseball. Even though it’s late June, there were stints when frigid winds or five-minute sun-showers took over the stadium. I definitely learned that Chicago lives up to its “Windy City” nickname!
Max Mannis is a special correspondent for sikids.com and a member of SABR. Check out his contributor page to catch up with his past stories on baseball and SABR events.
Photo courtesy Max Mannis