Once upon a time, it was common for baseball stadiums to have character. Outfield fences, for instance, used to be fun -- asymmetrical, sharply and inexplicably angled, sometimes really tall, sometimes really far away. Wrigley field, home of the Chicago Cubs, is one of the last of these old parks -- and is perhaps the most distinctive. While most modern parks have padded walls, to protect the multi-million dollar outfielders who are most likely to run into them, Wrigley's famous walls are made of brick. And covered in ivy, in which the ball is sometimes lost. There's no giant scoreboard to offer instant replays, highlights from other games, or (especially) ads. And no retractable roof to prevent the inconvenience of rain.
As a baseball fan, I knew all this already. What I didn't realize was how much a part of the neighborhood Wrigley Field is. It actually sits right on the edge of a residential neighborhood -- "Wrigleyville". Unlike other stadiums, which are built tall and imposing to prevent any possible viewing of the event from outside the stadium, Wrigley's far walls are short enough that viewers sitting on the roofs of bars across the street can see in. During games, fans wait on Waveland avenue, just past the outfield, to catch balls hit out of the stadium. And on any game day, people start drinking at the many local bars well before game time, continue through the game, and then on into the night. Normally this would not be noteworthy, except that most games at Wrigley field are played in the middle of the day, even during the week.
Tickets can be hard to get, as this is one of the smallest stadiums in baseball. But if you're a fan of the game, you'll just have to find a way, because this is one stadium you have to visit. If you’re not a fan, well it's still a pleasant experience, but don't expect a gaudy giant scoreboard or team mascot to entertain you. You'll get to sing "Take me out to the ballgame," led by some manner of celebrity, but mostly you will have to watch the game.
I did see a game while I was here. Wasn't much of a game, but I get the feeling that maybe baseball itself was never really the star at Wrigley to begin with. The Wrigley experience itself is. That might explain how the people of Chicago can continue to have such affection for a team that hasn't won the World Series for 100 years.