BY: MATTHEW PRESLAR
Chicago got really real on the early morning of June 17. This was the main “site seeing” day of our time in the Windy City. We had plans later that day to see the Art Institute and take a Chicago River/Lake Michigan architectural boat tour. The morning, however, started with a tour of “The Friendly Confines” of Wrigley Field.
Wrigley Field Tours start roughly every 30 minutes. We were scheduled for the first tour of the day, and I had a strange feeling we would make new friends on our tour. We were pleasantly surprised to see the same tall Canadian gentleman we saw in Indianapolis days before (and sitting a few rows away from us at our Sunday afternoon White Sox game) waiting for the same tour. Surley, he was also on a baseball trip just as we were!
As we gathered in Gallagher Way outside of Wrigley to begin our tour, we indeed met Liz and Dwayne Cowick. Just as his hat indicated, they are Blue Jay fans. What can bring together a 6’4 native of Ottawa, Ontario and a 5’7 resident of rural North Carolina? BASEBALL, of course. We enjoyed swapping stories and hope we can keep in contact and meet up at more parks with Dwayne and Liz!
As we began the tour of Wrigley Field our tour guide told us the story of his first visit to Wrigley as a 6 year old. He said he stepped in from the concourse pretty much where our tour started. As his mom uncovered his eyes, he said he thought Wrigley Field was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen… and that he still thinks the same 18 years later.
The grounds crew was busy working on the field in preparation for the homestand starting the next day. It’s exciting to see the constant work that goes into a Major League presentation as employees pressure washed the seats, trimmed the ivy, and added sand to the infield. There are no days off.
Wrigley highlights included the famous General Admission bleachers, home of the Bleacher Bums. We also got to step in the press box made famous by long time broadcaster Harry Caray. Oddly enough, many stories of both involved excessive alcohol consumption during games.
We also learned about the three registered landmarks of Wrigley Field: the ivy on the outfield wall, the old hand turned scoreboard in centerfield, and the red marquee sign at an entrance. While definitely iconic, I had no idea these were official landmarks.
At the apex of the tour, we went field level and sat in the Cubs dugout. With a stadium that old, I knew we were sitting where EVERY Cubs legend for over 100 years sat: Dawson, Sandberg, Banks, Sosa to current stars Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, anchors of the 2016 World Series Champions.
After completing the tour and exiting the actual stadium, there is a separate building that houses the 2016 World Series trophy. All that builds a love for the team so you can step next door to the team store and brand yourself a part of the franchise.
What a day and what an experience. After seeing all that Wrigley Field offers and the pride of the grounds crew, stadium ushers, and team store employees, it’s hard for the Cubs not to become your favorite team. And for sure, the tour was quite an appetizer for what was to come the next day when we attended an actual game!
Enjoy a few more photos from the tour...