If you know me or if you have been reading this blog for any time, you have probably figured out that I have an affinity for baseball. As a child I caught a bad case of baseball fever and it has never let go.
Every once in a great while I get to feed this fever in a special way by attending a major league baseball stadium at a venue that I have never been to. Tonight was one of those nights as I made a pilgrimage to see the Chicago Cubs at venerable Wrigley Field, “The Friendly Confines” has been the host to major league baseball for over 100 years now. The place is just dripping with history. Yes, there have been night games for many years now, yes there is now a state-of-the art giant scoreboard towering above left field. But this is still the place where Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Don Kessinger, and Ernie Banks played. This is the place that was the site of Babe Ruth’s “called shot” in the 1932 World Series. This is where Pete Rose had hit 4,191 tying him with Ty Cobb. This is where Gabby Hartnett, Greg Maddux, Fergie Jenkins, and Ryne Sandberg played their way into the hearts of the loyal fans. My evening at Wrigley took me to the past as I watched the emerging Cubs stars of the future. The names keep changing, but the game remains, essential the same: three strikes are an out, four balls are a walk, the bases are ninety feet apart.
Yet the evening also made me feel a bit old. It got me thinking about the other palaces of baseball that I have visited. There is Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, The New Bush Stadium in St. Louis and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. These, in addition to Wrigley are the stadiums currently in use that I have been too. What makes me feel old are the stadiums that I have seen major league baseball games in that are no longer in use. This list is composed of Crosley Field AND Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the old Comisky Park in Chicago, Exhibition Park in Toronto, Arlington Stadium in Texas and The Kingdome in Seattle. If I have been to seven stadiums that have been replaced, I must be old. If I have been to three different stadiums in Cincinnati to see the Reds, I must be getting really old!
But the game goes on and the fever remains no matter how old I get.
My gone list: Tiger Stadium, Three Rivers, Busch II, Riverfront, Cleveland, Veterans, Yankee, and (locally) Cooper.
I just keep telling myself, “Change is good; change is good.” Yeah, it’s not working.
The real truth is more this, words that are literally inscribed in stone over one of the doorways to the OSU College of Education: The Old Guard Changeth.
I got to go to Wrigley to see a game some years ago. Ernie Banks was still playing, in fact he was not old. The place was sold out. My younger brother and I had the last two seats in the stadium in left field at the very top of the stadium. one step to the left and I am falling out of the stadium. I still think that is the best seat I ever had in any stadium, except to get beer. I had to go get it. No vendor came up there. BUT I could see every speck of the game as well as the sunbathers in the bleachers, the activity on the roofs, and yes the Reds won that day, but they weren’t in Chicago. Chicago didn’t win either but it was a fun game to watch, especially in what was considered to be the worst seat in the stadium.
Leonard, excellent article! While I’m not as passionate about the game, I love seeing any sport live. You’ve been blessed to have done that and in some of the most historic ballparks. Keep writing – keep those memories alive!
Attention all baseball fans of a certain age: If you have not seen Sunday’s Tank McNamara, you’re most likely missing a story about us – http://www.gocomics.com/tankmcnamara/2015/05/17