John Labombarda
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August 7 - I Made It To Wrigley!!!

A few weeks ago, our esteemed moderator, asked me to list the top
five sports venues I would like to visit.  For those of you who don’t
remember my list, or, more likely, for those of you who didn’t read it,
my list consisted of Wrigley Field, Lambeau Field, Cameron Indoor
Arena, SBC Park and Busch Stadium.  Moments after I hit the send
button, my wife informed me that she had to go Chicago on a
business trip.  I immediately replied “great, I’m coming with you and
I’m going to Wrigley Field!”   She replied, “Wrigley Field, what’s Wrigley
Field?”  First of all, it’s hard to imagine that there is a person out there
who has never heard of Wrigley Field.  Second of all, it’s amazing that I married a woman who has
never heard of Wrigley Field.  Maybe that’s why we get along so well.

I booked my flight and waited somewhat patiently for the day to come.  My wife left for the “windy city”
on a Monday morning, I was going to meet her Wednesday night and attend the Cubs game on
Thursday afternoon.  It’s the most excited I’ve been since I was 14 years old and my father managed
to get tickets to Game Five of the 1976 ALCS.  

It is now Thursday morning, July 28th.  My wife’s alarm clock rings at 6:30 AM, she showers, dresses
and leaves for her conference.  My plan was to sleep late, have breakfast and head out to the “friendly
confines” at about 11 AM.  Well, I was so excited that I could not sleep.  I got out of bed at 7:30 and
paced in my room for an hour.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I left my room at 10 AM and asked the
concierge for directions to Wrigley.  He told me to take the “red line” of the CTA to Addison.    

I hop on the “red line” and head to the ballpark.  It’s about a 30-minute ride, and I enjoy every minute
of it.  I exit the train at Addison and the site of the ballpark is amazing.  I take two laps around the
outside of the stadium and take it all in.  There are thousands of people outside the stadium, and it’s
still two hours before the game.  Doesn’t anybody work in this city?  The first interesting thing I notice
is that there are people out on Sheffield and Waveland with gloves waiting for batting practice balls to
fly out of the stadium onto the street.  How cool is that?

It’s now time to head inside.  Since I am a “privileged” member of the media, my press pass allows
me access to the field.  I get to the field as the Diamondbacks are taking BP.  I am finally inside
Wrigley Field.  A place that I have seen on TV about a thousand times.  A place that I feel I know
intimately despite never being there.  The place is smaller than I thought and so is the centerfield
scoreboard.  I watch the DBacks take BP, first from the visiting dugout, then the home dugout.  I sit
there imagining all the great players that watched games from those benches.  Ernie Banks,
Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Hack Wilson, Ryne Sandberg…Tinkers to Evers to
Chance.  It is 77 degrees and sunny.  A perfect day for a ballgame and I’m in the perfect venue for a

I watch the game from the pressbox.  The game is nothing special, a 6-0 Diamondbacks win.  I don’t
care.  For three hours and five minutes I am a little kid again.  At 4:26 PM, Neifi Perez flies out to Luis
Gonzalez to end the game.  I don’t want to leave.  I take one more lap around the inside of the
stadium, and then another lap around the outside.  I get on the CTA and head back to my downtown
hotel as Wrigley disappears from my view.  I will visit Wrigley again.  I know I will.  I hope I will.