I was born 3 miles from Wrigley Field. Every summer my dad would wake me up in the morning with that look in his eye that meant “baseball.” We would get up early and take a 15 minutes bus ride on the Addison 152 to be first in line to get our tickets. “Bueller seats” he called them. I didn’t know what that referenced at the time, but I knew that it meant lots of foul balls and me yelling “ALOOOOUUU” every time we got an out off of third base. Our uniform was jerseys, caps, and (of course) our mitts. If anyone was going to catch that foul ball it was going to be us.
By the top of the second we had three hotdogs and a diet soda between the two of us. Before I was born my dad would have been a few beers in at this point, however since then he had stopped drinking and now consumed diet soda as if it were the real deal. He told me stories about each player that would come up to bat; talked about their past teams and what their stats meant. I learned all about the announcers and how they came to be at Wrigley; particularly Ron “Ronny” Santo. We were a couple of goofballs trading Harry Carry impressions between innings and betting on all of the trivia questions we could. At the 7th inning stretch we got our exercise by standing, singing, and motioning to the strange creatures who forgot to remove their caps. By the final innings, we were ready for the ultimate indulgence; a Frosty Malt Cup. Our eyes relentlessly searched for the man with the blue bag and the yellow cup in his hand. As soon as I was old enough to count I was counting the number of malt vendors and calculating the likelihood of one coming around at the right time. As soon as we flagged one down I knew exactly what is next. Delicious chocolate malt with a Popsicle stick for a spoon. This was baseball luxury at its finest and none of the delicious concoction would escape my grasp, no matter how much I needed to get on my face first. The game was coming to an end and we could spot the nonbelievers. They decided that they have seen enough to know the outcome of the game and therefore don’t need to watch the final pitch. We knew better. You never know what will happen when a Cub steps up to the plate.
I learned more about life than baseball through going to those games. I learned about rain delays, extra innings, chin music, and how a little base hit can make or break the game. Win or Lose, those summers spent at Wrigley were some of the best I’ve ever had, and no matter what, they will always be with me.