Aah, Wrigley Field, one of the most hallowed of major-league ballparks. After our extra-inning night in Milwaukee, we attended a day game in the Friendly Confines on August 22, 1997.
And what a day – beautiful, sunny, comfortable, a great view from the front of the upper deck:
What’s not to like? The outfield ivy was in full greenery. The hand-operated scoreboard in center field showed that this was the only day game going on at the moment:
We saw Harry Carey doing his traditional rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch:
Little did we know that we were lucky to be there in 1997, as sadly, Harry would pass away during the off-season, on February 18, 1998. There is now a statue honoring him outside the ballpark:
Oh, yeah, there was a ballgame going on that day. The Cubs were playing the Montreal Expos. Dustin Hermanson was on the mound for the Expos, and pitching for the Cubs that day was the Human Rain Delay, Steve Trachsel. Oddly enough, this game clocked in at a relatively brisk 2:31.
Sammy Sosa hit a two-run homer for the Cubbies in the seventh. Doug Strange hit a solo shot for the Expos in the eighth. [Strange – ha! Another name that could provide ample opportunity for merciless teasing during childhood.] The Cubs would tack on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, and hold on to win 3-1.
Also playing for the Cubs that day was Doug Glanville, who would later become a Phillie. Doug is shown here waiting on deck with Shawon Dunston:
In actuality, this should have been our second visit to Wrigley, rather than our first. In 1994, we were visiting friends in Chicago and had tickets to see the Cubs play the Phillies on September 10. How perfect! Except a little thing called the players strike, which began August 12, got in the way of my plans. Here we are in front of Wrigley holding our useless tickets, instead of seeing a game:
Oddly, my husband looks happy about this. One of the ticket windows was open, so at least we were able to get our money back that day.
We have been back to Wrigley since, to see three games (out of a four game series) between the Phillies and the Cubs in August 2006. We decided to try out three different seating areas of the ballpark.
For the first game, August 21, we gave the left-field bleachers a try. The bleachers in Wrigley are totally separated from the rest of the seating areas, and there is even a separate entrance:
The view from the bleachers is pretty nice. This photo was taken in the top of the first – it seems that there were a lot of late arriving fans that night:
This game featured home runs by Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley for the Phils, and Jacque Jones for the Cubs. This is also the game when Aaron Rowand broke his ankle after colliding with Chase Utley on a fly ball to shallow center field.
The Phils held on to win 6-5. Jon Lieber got the win, and Arthur Rhodes the save. Rich Hill took the loss for the Cubs.
The next night, August 22, we had seats in the lower level behind home plate. This is probably the only area I wouldn’t want to sit in again – the seats are really tight together, there are those annoying support beams that all old ballparks are blessed (cursed) with, and on a hot, humid night the air under there is very stagnant.
Jamie Moyer was making his first start for the Phillies – here is a shot of his first pitch:
No home runs this night, though Jimmy Rollins did hit a triple. The Phils would win 6-3, with Moyer getting the win and Ryan Madson the save. Ryan O’Malley took the loss for the Cubs.
The next night, August 23, we were again in the upper level to see Brett Myers take the mound for the Phils, and Angel Guzman for the Cubs. Here is a photo of Myers that night. He has a weird habit of not looking towards the plate as he releases the pitch:
Homers were hit by Ryan Howard for the Phils, and Matt Murton for the Cubs. The Phils would win again, this time by a score of 2-1. Myers got the win, and Geoff Geary got the save this night. Three saves, three different pitchers. Bob Howry would end up with the loss.
We would leave Chicago the next day, and thankfully not see Cole Hamels give up nine (!) runs in only two innings of work, though only five were earned. 😉 It would later be revealed that Hamels had cut the index finger on his left (pitching) hand with a Swiss Army knife while trying to cut a plastic zip tie in the days prior to the game, and he was unable to properly grip his change-up.
Note to Cole: stay away from cutting implements! Let Heidi do all the cutting!
Coming up next, Turner Field.
(all photos mine)
Yeah, today dawned rather gray and dreary looking, but barring unforeseen circumstances, the Phillies equipment truck should be making its way towards Clearwater even as I write. I would so love to be a stowaway on that truck!
Sunshine, palm trees, beaches – what’s not to love about Spring Training? Where else but Spring Training can you arrive at the ballpark when the gates open, and it looks like this:
but by gametime it looks like this? (Florida weather in March can be pretty fickle!)
Where else but Spring Training can you see synchronized fielding during the pre-game warmups?
Where else but Spring Training can you see Chase Utley and the rest of the Phillies looking more like Christmas Elves than baseball players on St. Patrick’s Day?
Where else but Spring Training can you stand next to Jon Lieber’s monstrously huge truck?
I wonder if he’s still driving that behemoth, considering he’s currently unsigned.
And where else but Spring Training can you sit on top of the dugout after the game is over, and not get shooed away by security?
Yes, my friend does actually have a face, but I didn’t know if she wanted her picture posted on the internet, therefore the homemade smiley.
We have been fortunate enough to take a trip to Clearwater to catch some Spring Training games four times, in 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2007. As much as I would love to make it number five in 2009, the prospects of that happening are currently not looking too good. Our finances resemble the country’s economy (pretty stinky). And now that both our children are school-age, it’s much harder to schedule, what with the kids’ activities and trying to convince the grandparents to stay at our house for an extended period to make sure the kids get to school on time, homework done, etc. So unless I win the lottery, or suddenly find a money tree growing in my backyard, I’ll just continue to dream about it.
Hopefully for some of you this spring your dreams will come true!