Now that the basketball season (college) is over, it is time to shift gears and focus on another sure sign of Spring – the start of the baseball season! That actually came well over a week ago already (March 31), and the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs are well on their way to meeting in the World Series!
I didn’t say this year, for while the Tigers might make it, the Cubs are once again striving for baseball mediocrity. But who cares?! The season is underway and excitement is in the air!
Of special significance this year for Chicago Cubs’ fans and baseball history buffs is the 100th anniversary of that storied stadium, Wrigley Field. May news outlets are carrying special reports on this historic event this month. I picked NPR’s story (see the link above), in part because of the great slide show they have. And, yes, I do plan on visiting the park sometime this summer. :)
In that connection, author George F. Will has also written a book to mark the Wrigley centennial: A Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred (Crown Archetype, 2014), available at your favorite bookstore. And yes, I am purchasing this book – should be a great summer read! Here is part of the publisher’s blurb:
In A Nice Little Place on the North Side, leading columnist George Will returns to baseball with a deeply personal look at his hapless Chicago Cubs and their often beatified home, Wrigley Field, as it turns one hundred years old. Baseball, Will argues, is full of metaphors for life, religion, and happiness, and Wrigley is considered one of its sacred spaces. But what is its true, hyperbole-free history?
Winding beautifully like Wrigley’s iconic ivy, Will’s meditation on “The Friendly Confines” examines both the unforgettable stories that forged the field’s legend and the larger-than-life characters—from Wrigley and Ruth to Veeck, Durocher, and Banks—who brought it glory, heartbreak, and scandal. Drawing upon his trademark knowledge and inimitable sense of humor, Will also explores his childhood connections to the team, the Cubs’ future, and what keeps long-suffering fans rooting for the home team after so many years of futility.
In the end, A Nice Little Place on the North Side is more than just the history of a ballpark. It is the story of Chicago, of baseball, and of America itself.
So, on this Friday, we begin to mark the 2014 MLB season (including the Tigers’ affiliate, the Whitecaps, right here in Grand Rapids). Enjoy your own hometown (or adopted) team. And may the best teams rise and meet in the World Series. Go Cubs and Tigers!
Here is a part of the story that was published at NPR (audio is also available). Be sure and visit the slide show – a great summary of the history of Wrigley Field. O, and don’t neglect the part of the story that ties Wrigley to a Lutheran Seminary!
When the first pitch is thrown between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, it will mark the start of the 100th professional baseball season at iconic Wrigley Field.
The ball park on Chicago’s North Side, known as the Friendly Confines, opened as the home of the Chicago Federals 100 years ago this month.
The Cubs moved there two years later, and in all that time the Cubs have never won a World Series. There hasn’t even been a World Series game played at Wrigley since the end of World War II.
A unique aspect of Wrigley Field is its location — tucked away in a North Side neighborhood, and not in some centrally located downtown area or an island in a sea of parking lots.
Waveland Avenue, just outside the ball park, is surrounded by bars and restaurants and souvenir shops, but it’s also surrounded by single-family homes and small apartment buildings. There’s an elementary school just a block and a half away, and right across the street is a very busy Chicago firehouse.
“We love it. It’s what makes this firehouse special. It’s why I like working here,” says Capt. John Giordano of the Chicago Fire Department’s Engine 78, a lifelong Cubs fan. “Fifty years — I used to walk to the ball park when I was a kid. I grew up in Lincoln Square.”