It started with this crazy idea last year to take my sister-in-law to the movie site of Field of Dreams in Dyersville, IA. Since we were spending that much time in the car, I figured why not take the opportunity to finally visit Wrigley and see my Chicago-based (not Wisconsin!) friend Becca. Throw in an impromptu stop at the home field of the White Sox along with some missed opportunities at touring some Frank Lloyd Wright homes, and it’s suddenly a baseball-themed road trip.
Our first stop into the Windy City had us ushered into U.S. Cellular Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox. I managed to take a picture of the rest place of Comiskey Park (the White Sox home from 1910 to 1990), located in the parking lot across 35th Street. We were provided parking and ushered in with a small crowd, not realizing that a high school all-star game was taking place. Regardless, we were provided free parking as well as an opportunity to wander through a portion of the ballpark.
I’d always been curious about U.S. Cellular, as it has the dubious distinction of being the last ballpark built before Camden Yards, meaning it just missed out on the retro craze. It doesn’t have the character of a warehouse in the outfield, but they’ve certainly put in a fair share of effort renovating the place. I’ll have to reserve judgement for when I actually attend a game.
Next up was Wrigley, and I was grateful to visit it prior to the proposed renovation that is supposed to start next month. I love the fact that the primary souvenir store had to be built across the street (clearly for space issues) and that the game day crowd spilled out onto the streets. It reminds me of the old Yankee Stadium, and harkens to a time in which architects didn’t account for personal space upon approaching a large sporting venue.
Overall, the Friendly Confines are rather quaint. We benefited from the nice breeze coming from Lake Michigan, which was just viewable from our seats. The bullpens flanked the ballpark, similar to another park I saw the previous week.
Escalators? Elevators? None seemed to be found here, as it’s a labyrinth of catwalks to the upper deck. The exposed suite level certainly makes the rest of us feel less bourgeoisie.
I don’t think I’ve come across a more vibrant-looking hot dog than the Vienna Beef dogs at Wrigley. Overall, though, I found the food options relatively sparse.
Other disappointments: walking behind the bleachers and batter’s eye is limited to ticket holders of that area, meaning we couldn’t circumambulate the field. While I liked the hand-operated scoreboard, I found it difficult to find certain stats (I suppose I wasn’t trying hard enough after Pittsburgh started losing). The worst thing, though, was the video screen in left field. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for video post-production folks to design around such a narrow strip of a screen. It seemed like a hollow attempt to bridge this landmark to modern times.
I left out some Cubs fans booing my Orioles hat. While I didn’t understand their beef with an out-of-division non-rival, I suppose a century without a championship can leave any fan base disgruntled.
A spider web blocked entry to a row, and the size of it in such a public place simply blew me away. I suppose Wrigley’s arachnids simply work overtime between games.
Lastly, we (or perhaps I should say primarily Andrew) drove roughly 7 hours round-trip from Chicago to Dyersville. I guess I miscalculated that one.
Is it crazy to drive that far to see a cornfield? Maybe. Some people asked me if I was going during Father’s Day to see Kevin Costner and members of the original cast revisit the field for the film’s 25th anniversary. “Not for the hundreds of dollars they wanted for tickets!”, I’d reply. Now that’s crazy.