Day 47: A Wrigley Field Farewell to My 30s

Last Saturday, a friend from work called me and asked what I was doing on Tuesday. I explained that we had some old friends from out of state coming by to hang out for the afternoon -- good friends from college we hadn't seen in probably ten years.

Why?

Well, it turned out that he and a few other guys had an extra ticket to the Cubs game and were looking for someone to take it. Under normal circumstances, I would have politely declined since we had friends coming to town, but then he told me that the seats were ten rows directly behind home plate and that there was a possibility we'd be able to get a personal tour of some of the stadium after the game.

Um. Let me call my friends.

. . .

The day was perfect.

It was the kind of day that, during the school year, I call a Ferris Bueller day. You know, the kind where you walk outside, look up at the sky and think, "How could I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this."

The tickets weren't cheap but once we found our way to our seats, I knew right away that it was going to be worth every last penny.


The pre-game rituals began including a ceremonial first pitch thrown out by Jeremy Piven. You probably know him from HBO's Entourage as well as just about every movie John Cusack has ever been in.


Now here's where the day starts to get a little crazy. With the game about to get underway, the stadium had mostly filled in but we still had a handful of empty seats to our right. That is, until Jeremy Piven came and sat down.


He didn't last long, though.

After about a half-inning or so he'd apparently had enough of being mixed with the general population and vacated the seats. That's cool though. This turned our four seats into eight -- enough to spread out and give us some elbow room while we enjoyed the next eight and a half innings of baseball in comfort.


So, yeah, John Lackey got roughed up early and the Cubs took the loss.

But our day was far from over.

. . .

I won't get into the specifics of who and how, but I'll simply say that I know a guy who knows a guy. It just so happened that the guy I know was one of the three I went to the game with and the guy he knows works directly with the Cubs players and management. We were told to stick around after the game and once the place cleared out, he'd show us around a bit.

We waited outside the back gate at Wrigley as instructed which also happens to be the spot where the players leave the stadium. We watched as several of the Cubs players and staff departed through the curtained tunnel and fans requested autographs. While I'm sure that this kind of thing can get old at times for the players, I was pretty surprised to see the number of guys who walked by without even acknowledging the kids yelling their names. On the other hand, there were many who did -- some with a simple wave and others who took the time to stop and sign baseballs and programs for their eager fans.

Ben Zobrist was especially impressive as he spent at least ten minutes signing autographs until it appeared that every kid with a Sharpie was going home happy.


One young fan we saw was clearly disappointed as we overheard him telling his parents, with tears running down his cheeks, that one of his favorite players did not give him an autograph. Just minutes later, though, we turned to see something quite heartwarming.

Members of the crew at the fire station directly across the street from the gate were talking with the boy and his family as one of the firemen motioned to the gate in a light-hearted "forget them" kind of way. The next thing we knew, the boy had a fireman's helmet on his head, a smile on his face, and was posing for a picture in front of the fire engine.

Well done, CFD Engine 78.


. . .

When it comes to the rest of our day, I'll simply say that the wait was well worth it. In due time, we were escorted inside, through a few doors, and around a few corners. Before we knew it, we were standing inside the brand new Cubs clubhouse!

Given strict instructions that no photos were allowed while we were inside, I'll rely on the photos below from around the internet to give you an idea of what we experienced -- everything from the players' clubhouse and the media/video rooms to the training room and managers offices.

Everything state of the art and everything brand new.

This. Was. Nuts.


[Image courtesy of mlb.com]


[Image courtesy of chicagotribune.com]


[Image courtesy of chicagotribune.com]

After a lengthy walk through the bowels of Wrigley Field, we headed up a tunnel and found ourselves in the home dugout looking out over a vacant field and stadium.


Not completely vacant, though.

Jake Arrietta was in the dugout filming a commercial about 20 feet away.


. . .

Whew.

If my last day in my 30s is any indication, my 40s are going to be amazing!

2 comments:

Tim Arndt said...

Awesome recap! Thanks for sharing! Cheers Tim!

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