Last week I returned to the best ballpark in Major League Baseball (sorry Fenway Park, you’re a close second) for a game between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets. I previously attended a full Cubs-Mets series at Wrigley Field in 2004. This was the first time my wife, Susan, and kids, Peter and Kay, would visit this baseball cathedral. We only intended to attend one game, but the previous night’s game was suspended due to thunderstorms in the 10th inning, so we ended up seeing the last two innings of that game as well.
We got tickets for the bleachers with hopes of catching some home runs. Renovations have significantly changed Wrigley Field since my previous visit when the area under the bleachers was a no-frills area with chain link fences, bare bone concessions, and an ambiance unchanged from 1914. Now everything is beautiful red brick with Cubs memorabilia exhibits and fancy concession stands. Even the restrooms have been modernized, albeit they’ve kept the notorious urinal trenches. The bullpens – once in foul territory right along the baselines – are now hidden under the bleachers (something that will become significant to us later).
Our early arrival meant that we could snag seats in the front row right behind the ivy-covered wall. A light rain fell before the resumption of Tuesday night’s game, but stopped as Michael Conforto came to bat with a count of 2 balls and no strike. Two innings later, the Cubs walked-off the first game on an error by Mets reliever Paul Sewald. Another light rain fell between games.
The official Wednesday afternoon game was an exciting game featuring:
- a first-inning grand slam by Todd Frazier
- a diving catch by Albert Almora, Jr.
- a flock of pigeons gathered on the outfield until Kyle Schwarber chased them away and Austin Jackson drove a single through them
- the Cubs pitcher Brandon Kintzler and 2nd baseman David Bote collided
- a Cubs reliever batted in the 9th inning
- the Cubs Victor Carini hit a last inning home run into our section of the bleachers which was caught by a fan just five rows behind us
The kids didn’t catch any homeruns but Peter did get 2 balls from the outfielders and Kay also got one. The most exciting encounter, though, happened deep under the bleachers when we were getting french fries from the concessions stand. A security guard approached us and said “C.J. Edwards has a ball for the girl.” We approached the back door of the hidden bullpen and saw the Cubs reliever peeking out the crack of the door. His arm shot out and tossed a ball to Kay, and he quickly disappeared behind the closed door. “He likes to do that for the kids sometimes,” said the security guard.
It was a wonderful afternoon at a brilliant ballpark, and the Cubs organization made it a fun experience for the family.
Current ballpark rankings.
- Wrigley Field
- Fenway Park
- AT&T Park
- Oriole Park at Camden Yards
- Petco Park
- Citi Field
- Nationals Park
- Miller Field
- Dodger Stadium
- Citizens Bank Park
- Guaranteed Rate Field
- Yankee Stadium III
Former ballpark rankings
- Tigers Stadium
- Shea Stadium
- Yankees Stadium II
- RFK Stadium
- Stade Olympique
- Veterans Stadium