#Wrigley_Field, #Cubs Home Opener, 2015
Easter Sunday, 2015 marks the home opener of the #Chicago_Cubs. A night game in early April in #Chicago isn’t for the faint of heart. I remember another #Easter long ago. A trip to Wrigley_Field with my dad, sister and her girlfriend in 1974. Shivering in wool caps and gloves, we huddled under a blanket in the near-empty stands. But we were ecstatic—we were at Wrigley. That Easter Sunday game was cancelled on the count of snow.
Despite the chill and called game, it’s a fond memory that forty one years hasn’t erased. Wrigley Field held enchantment for this young boy. My dad, a dyed in the wool Cubs fan, regaled me with tales of his afternoons at Wrigley forty years before that frigid Easter, in the 1930s when the team actually won pennants. And I’m guessing that everyone else who sat in the wooden, forest green seats, with noses trailing steamy hotdog vapors and fingers cracking open salty peanut shells found enchantment as well. Hotdogs and peanuts never tasted better than at Wrigley.
Baseball was then America’s pastime. Some will argue it still is, but I don’t fall into that camp. The game doesn’t have the same pull on me that it once did. Perhaps like I did with the Easter Bunny, I outgrew baseball, or perhaps baseball merely grew old.
Since my youth of $1.75 general admission grandstand seats, quarter programs, and ten-cent pencils, baseball has gone high-tech and high dollar. It’s not the game that matters so much anymore as the marketing. Loyalty to the highest bidder. How many families of four can afford to dump over $200 for a few hours at the old ballpark? How many fans can recite the roster of their favorite team? How many people trek out to Wrigley merely for the ‘scene’, caring nothing about the happenings on the field?
Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and many others that live on in the memories of middle-aged and older fans were the faces of that younger, more innocent game—the sprit of America’s pastime.
Major League Baseball doesn’t need my approval. The game isn’t it any danger of fading from the American landscape. Hordes of fans will converge on Wrigley and every other major league park for that matter again this summer. The snap of the bat, a deep fly ball, the roar of the crowd and wafting odors of hotdogs and newer treats like nachos and micro brews will stir excitement. And for those fans, I wish the game retains its magic. I prefer to imagine an America spending a leisurely afternoon watching baseball than a nation at war, divided by politics.
I hope that something more than legend and myth keep the game alive. What a shame it would be for new generations not to be able to lose themselves for an afternoon (or since 1988, for a night) within the enchanting walls of Wrigley Field.
I’m glad of my memories of Wrigley with my dad, even though I no longer have the baseball autographed by Ernie Banks and Stan Musial that I foolishly batted around my parents’ backyard till it ended its useful life in a puddle, faded and frayed.
In honor of opening day, I’m posting an excerpt from my recent novel, Jell-O and Jackie O. In this chapter, the story’s narrator, Tad Aldenburg reminisces about the special afternoons that he and his dad, Joe spent at #Wrigley_Field. It’s 1971 and baseball is still America’s pastime.
Jell-O and Jackie O by T.D. Arkenberg
Sunday afternoons at Wrigley Field were a summer highlight. Dad felt the same way for sure. Every year the two of us picked a handful of dates to see the Cubs. We chose at least one doubleheader, the thrill of two games for the price of one.
On game days, Dad awakened me early for eight o’clock mass at St. Agnes. “Let’s play two!” he whispered, quoting Ernie Banks. Despite my best efforts to skip church , Dad answered every objection. “No worries,” he said, “we’ll have plenty of time before the gates open.” He tickled my ribs before nudging me out of bed. “Let’s go pray for the Cubs.”
“Let’s pray two!” I replied, trying to tickle him back.
The Cubs needed more than prayers. By the middle of that summer, they teetered between third- and fourth-place. After their heartbreaking dive in 1969, the team finished second behind division champs, the Pirates, in 1970.
After mass, we bought a newspaper and climbed into the Mercury. Dad reached into the back seat, grabbed a fraying Cubs cap, and adjusted it while looking in the rearview mirror. “Let’s play ball,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes, the same blue as the faded cap. “‘ C’ stands for good luck, kiddo.”
“Sure don’t bring any luck to Durocher,” I said with a snicker.
Dad pulled my cap from the backseat and flung it at me. “Durocher’s the guy who said nice guys finish last.” He adjusted my cap and tapped my head.
I scratched my temple. “Cubs players must be super nice.”
Click on the link below for the rest of the chapter.
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