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A Few Links and a Wrigley Request

A few links:

— RIP Tony Gwynn, the artist.

— Martin Kaymer may not have excited the masses with his romp at the U.S. Open. But I think it put him in prime position to do something no one since Tiger has done — become the TRUE best golfer in the world.

— There is still something golfers can learn from Jack Nicklaus.

Got a bunch of other things coming — something on golf and officiating, something on Jurgen, something on Tim Duncan, something on the red-hot Royals, and so on.

I will also tell you that I’ve had a slight change of plans on the Baseball 100. As you probably remember, the original plan was to just list off the 100 best players in 100 days. I wasn’t planning on writing extensive essays on each. But, you know, I can’t help my myself. So the essays started getting more and more involved and elaborate, and I found myself getting pulled in a bunch of different directions.

Well, I kept it up for as long as I could. But, as you might know, in addition to all the other stuff I’m also writing a book about Tom Watson and his rivalry and friendship with Jack Nicklaus (at a bookstore near you Masters time 2015!). So I simply can’t keep up the Top 100 as constructed. Still, I know some people are following the Top 100 so I’m going to start putting them out there one after another but only with very short comments. I will say I have some plans to revisit the 100 in greater depth at a later date.

OK, one other thing. Next Monday and Tuesday, I’m heading to Chicago to write something on the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field. If you have any thoughts on Wrigley Field, any stories, any memories … drop them in the comments.

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64 Responses to A Few Links and a Wrigley Request

  1. Dr. G says:

    Truly enjoying the top 100 as constituted and they’re always worth the wait. I’d have no complaints if they appeared as they have in recent months; they’ve been nice surprises like a hidden Reese’s cup at the bottom of a Halloween bag.

  2. Dave says:

    Just remember that Chicago’s Wrigley is not the original Wrigley (LA, where the AL Angles eventually played and the ’60s home run derby was held), nor was it originally called that way back when, when the Cubs were the west side team and the Federal League opened what is now “Wrigley.”

  3. RickyB says:

    Took my soon-to-be wife to Wrigley for her only trip there in 1998 on May 29. Lucked into a clash between the rookie Kerry Wood and Atlanta’s Tom Glavine. Neither figured into the decision, but neither disappointed, either. Wood struck out 13 in seven innings, Glavine pitched eight frames but surrendered two runs in the eighth to allow the Cubs to take a 3-2 lead into the ninth. Rod Beck then blew the save in style by giving up a leadoff homer to Curtis Pride, who was pinch-hitting for Glavine. Game went extras, but the only problem was I scheduled to meet my mom at a restaurant to celebrate my birthday, and if the game went past the 10th, I would be really late. Sure enough, neither team scored and we had to depart. Only time I have left a MLB game before it ended. Missed Brant Brown hitting a walk-off, two-run homer in the 11th. Still mad I missed that. And yes, I had to look up most of the details in this summary. The one thing I really remember is Kerry Wood striking out a bunch of Braves.

  4. Derrick says:

    Hey Joe, I have a Wrigley memory that I think sums up the place nicely. It was the last day of the 2012 season. The Astros were in town. Both teams had over 100 losses. My soon-to-be-girlfriend and I, without gainful employment, went to the Friday afternoon game with tickets purchased on StubHub for $1 each. For GOOD seats. It was a pretty routine day at the ballpark, pretty sparsely attended. But then, trailing in the bottom of the 9th, the Cubs began to put together a rally. They tied the game up, then won on an Alfonso Soriano RBI single. The people who had come (and stayed to the end) that day cheered and clapped and sang along to “Go Cubs Go” as enthusiastically at the end of that meaningless game as if it was a playoff victory. Even though another disappointing season had just ended, everyone left the ballpark happy. On our way out, Wrigley employees cheerfully said “See you next year!” with the blind optimism for the next season that has characterized the Cubs over so many losing years.

    • Ari says:

      I was at that game too. A lot of fun on a dreary afternoon. But it wasn’t Soriano that got the hit, it was Bryan LaHair. It was a nice finish to a season that started so well for him before he predictably trailed off in the second half.

  5. Lou says:

    Ugh. So disappointed to hear about the top-100. I found myself checking every day for the latest entry. They are terrific.

    • DjangoZ says:

      Same here. I’ll add my vote to the idea that they continue to come out infrequently but with the same level of detail as the first 60 have. Lists of top 100 players are a dime a dozen, what makes this so wonderful is Joe’s writing.

    • buddaley says:

      I feel the same. It is the story that makes each selection so interesting. To me, the specific ranking is relatively insignificant. Of course, I like to know where Joe puts them, because he always has an interesting perspective, but that is secondary.

    • Andrew W. says:

      I’ll fourth that. I don’t care if it takes two years to finally unveil the full top 100 list; the best part about them so far has been the stories and insights Joe provides.

  6. bwclausen says:

    My first trip to Wrigley was in ’99 as an 11 year old. I saw Sosa hit one onto Waveland Ave. and it was truly amazing, no matter what anyone thinks about his steroid use, the man was a joy to watch. I saw both nights of Dave Matthews Band in 2010. Spectacular shows, and certainly an incredible venue for a concert.

    I was there for both nights of Bruce Springsteen in 2012. Near the end of the main set on the second night, Bruce said, “Let’s see if we can work some magic,” and proceeded to play a solo acoustic cover of CCR’s “Who Will Stop the Rain?” It didn’t work, and just as he and Tom Morello slammed into “The Ghose of Tom Joad,” the heavens opened up in a downpour. No one left. Bruce, plugged in and everything, stepped out into the rain despite the objections of band and crew. The entire floor jumped in unison to the beat as “Badlands” closed the main set and the rain continued. By the end of the encore my friend and I were drenched, but it was the greatest concert I’ve ever seen, and I can’t imagine seeing anything better in baseball’s oldest and grandest ballpark.

  7. chuck says:

    I used to get $1 bleacher seats at Wrigley in the 1970s. Happy memories there of the left field vs right field boisterous yelling (“Left field sucks! Left field sucks!”, etc). Seeing a guy in the bleachers during batting practice catch 3 balls in his floppy hat, while fans with gloves all around him strained to no avail. To this day the smell of cigarette smoke outdoors clicks a connection to sitting in those bleachers.
    I was in left field for a Cubs-Reds game in the early-mid 70’s and the fans were giving it to Pete Rose. Amidst the “Rose-y, Rose-y” sing-song chant was another guy who was shouting out personal details of Rose’s non-baseball life. Then somebody threw a crutch (?) out onto the field near him, and at that point he flared, picking up the crutch and hurling it against the wall.

    Jose Cardenal occasionally used to pick the ivy and chew on it during pitching change.

  8. Bob Vorwald says:

    Wrigley is the land of what Bob Brenly called “single day amnesia”. No matter the record, if the Cubs win, it’s fans standing in the 9th and Mardi Gras afterward. If they lose, the despondency lasts only until the next day when the cycle repeats.

    John Thorn via Lawrence Ritter told me “baseball is a game where its yesterdays are on display today and nowhere is that more prevalent than Wrigley Field.” That’s why we love it so. Babe Ruth pointed there, Lou Gehrig hit a ball on Sheffield as a NY high school All-Star, Willie Mays had 54 home runs as a visitor, Pete Rose tied Ty Cobb at 4,191, and Mike Schmidt hit four straight home runs in an 18-16 win and a game-winning HR off Bruce Sutter in a 23-22 win. It’s the best afternoon soap opera in America shared by all of us at WGN-TV.

    My favorite story that combines all things Wrigley is a drive Hank Aaron told me was the hardest hit ball of his career. It was in the 7th inning of a Cubs/Braves game on August 19, 1969 and he crushed it off Ken Holtzman who happened to be pitching a no-hitter at the time. The calls from Jack Brickhouse on TV and Vince Lloyd on the radio were identical: “there goes the no-hitter…”. Legend has it that a fan in bleachers stood up and yelled “blow Bums blow!”, but there is no doubt the ball was out of the ballpark and the wind blew it back in. Billy Williams never gave up. He waited patiently in the well (that area in left-center where the wall juts out) and reached up and caught the ball in the vines. The no-hitter was safe and Aaron kicked the dirt in a manner reminiscent of DiMaggio after the Gionfriddo catch. Two innings later, Aaron hit a ground ball to Glenn Beckert who tossed to Ernie Banks for the last out of the no-hitter. The ’69 Cubs had just beaten the team leading the Western Division and had a 7 1/2 game lead on the Mets. For me, the happiest day in the ballpark’s history.

  9. Pip says:

    …we’re never seeing the Springsteen HoF are we?

  10. In 1998, while in college, I lived on Newport Ave., which is about a block south of Wrigley Field. It was close enough to where, if you were busy and couldn’t watch the game, you could just turn it on when you heard the crowd noise (and thanks to the Directv 7 second delay, you could still see what happened “live”).

    Anyway, one day my afternoon class got cancelled–it was an outdoor Physical Education class we had to take for graduation, and the weather was terrible, so I hopped on the bus and headed home. Riding eastbound on the Addison bus, the presence of a minimal crowd outside Wrigley reminded me of there was a game, and because I had nothing to do that afternoon (when, really, does a college student have anything important to do?) I jumped off the bus and hopped in line for a ticket.

    Since it was a May game and the weather was terrible, there were plenty of seats available. Foregoing the chance to go out that weekend, I splurged and got the best ticket I could: row six, behind the plate. Being six rows from the field and behind the plate cost a hefty sum: a whole $25. However, the opportunity to see the Kid pitch seemed to make it worth it. Kerry Wood was the first player in major league baseball that was actually younger than I was–by a whole month. He was only 2-2 at the time, but at 20 years old, was THE FUTURE of the Cubs (as if there’s anything but the future worth discussing). Even better was the fact that I was sitting next to the speed gun operator, so I got to see, in real time, the fastball so many baseball folks had been talking about.

    What happened over the course of the next two was unlike any baseball experience I ever had, or likely will ever have again. Astro after Astro stepped to the plate, only to look like overmatched 12 year olds in a pony league game against a 15 year old. Derek Bell was particularly spectacular in his flailing; he was like your grandmother attempting to swat a particularly quick fly in the kitchen, and equally unsuccessful. The goofballs in the bleachers, shirtless in what felt like 50 degree weather (the temperature dropped throughout the game, as the rain gave way to a cold front) added to the growing list of Ks that, by the end of the game, populated half the bleachers.

    The only hit the Astros had was a weak groundball past a stuck-in-mud rookie third basemen Kevin Orie (dammit Orie!), and by the end of the game, me and the other 10,000 or so who showed up only had one question that would remain: will he break the record?

    Thanks to a groundout by Craig Biggio, it wasn’t going to happen. Nonetheless, Wood would tie the single game record for strikeouts and have what I still believe is the greatest single pitching performance in the history of the game. To this day, there will never be another game like the one I attended on May 6, 1998. It is the only ticket stub I’ve ever saved, and if I get a chance to meet Kerry Wood again, I’ll make sure to get it signed. Until then, I just need to find that PE teacher and make sure I thank them for cancelling class.

  11. otistaylor89 says:

    Here is my suggestion for Joe: Name a Top 10 player, write something short(good luck!) and sweet on that player, but then ask the readers to write their own essay on that player, pick that one and add it to your shorter version.
    Done and done!

  12. Jeff says:

    About Wrigley, I mostly remember the urine smell, the rude security, and that you couldn’t see real baseball because the Cubs insisted on being involved in every game there. The ivy is pretty, I guess.

  13. It boggles my mind that Joe can be writing a book, and working on a top-100 list, while mixing in columns about Tony Gwynn, Tim Duncan, the Royals, officiating and maybe an iPad review.

  14. guy44 says:

    I grew up not far from Wrigley Field, and in my mind it’s still the place it was in the ’90s. These days Wrigley is a Modern Sports Stadium Experience (TM), from the party patios to the corporate rooftop experiences across the street. But in the ’90s – really, before the Cubs went to the playoffs behind Sammy’s homers in 1998 – Wrigley and it’s immediate surroundings were far more low key. The neighborhood felt like a real neighborhood, a little run down maybe and filled with actual residents and the kind of old-fashioned local sports bars where Mark Grace would grab some beers after games. The stadium itself was still the gorgeous jewel of baseball on the field, but inside the concourse fans chain smoked and it was kind of like a huge damp basement, cracked concrete and all.

    For a couple of summers around this time I was a teenager working at a day camp in walking distance from Wrigley. I spent most of my money going to as many games as possible with my work friends, because teenagers could afford to do that with his meager spending money in the ’90s. You could almost always get walk-up tickets, because the Notre Dame frat boys hadn’t yet graduated and taken up permanent residence in Wrigley. I don’t mean to make this sound like a get-off-my-lawn old man rant, because some things were definitely worse back then: the stadium is much cleaner and better run now; the most exotic food used to be Chicago-style hot dogs (not that I complained); the Cubs were terrible, were always terrible, and there was no hope that they’d ever improve.

    Still, I loved the camaraderie that came from being a true fan of a terrible team in a half-filled stadium. I remember sitting with my friends in upper deck seats right next to the camera well behind home (tickets that cost a fortune now) and making friends with the camera man. The camera man had brought his grade school aged kid to the game, let the kid in the well with him, and even let him operate the camera a little. Whenever the broadcast needed crowd shots, the camera guy pointed the camera right at us, because why not? There were maybe 10,000 people at the stadium, the Cubs were losing to a last place team, the game itself was one of those mid-90s 4 hour slogs. But it was heaven on earth.

    I don’t know what Wrigley was like in the ’80s or earlier, but I feel like there was an informality that’s been lost. There aren’t family-run Cubs bars with regulars and players dropping by anymore, there are chains. The rooftops don’t have used metal bleachers and lawn chairs, they’re annoying corporate entities. The stadium is professional and packed (or it will be again once the Cubs start winning) but the characters and the oddball season ticket holders and the loose enforcement of rules are drowned out by the flip-flops and board shorts crowd. I prefer to remember the stadium the way I liked it.

    That, and the way it was when I went to Kerry Wood’s first game back from Tommy John and he won the game and hit a home run. That was pretty great.

  15. Keith W says:

    I have been to Wrigley twice. The first time I watched Greg Maddux pitching for the Braves during Memorial Day weekend 2000. The second time was in 2006 and Fergie Jenkins threw out the first pitch. So I saw two of the four pitchers to strike out more than 3000 while walking fewer than 1000 on the mound at Wrigley.

  16. Vince says:

    My first game there was in 2005, and the weekend consisted of us getting thrown out of a deep dish pizza place and more beer than I thought I could legitimately consume.
    My other game there was in 2011, with my wife, who was about four months pregnant. It was 95 degrees, and Roy Halladay had to leave the game because of heat exhaustion. My wife was just looking for a place where she could get ice cream in a helmet. She also said, “We can’t see the JumboTron from our seats.” I told her there was no JumboTron. “Then how do people propose?”

  17. NickTaylor says:

    I am in agreement with the people who say we’d prefer the top 100 to come out slowly and infrequently, but keep the same depth of the essay and beautiful writing. We don’t care if it takes another couple of years for you to finish. Just do one per month if you are too busy! We don’t care how long it takes, we want to read the stories!!

  18. Rob says:

    I remember a whole lot of Cardinals/Cubs games from the ’70’s to the present. It’s one of the great baseball rivalries, but in a friendly, low-key, Midwest sort of way. I loved it whenever the Cards won, which was often over the past 30-40 years. (An aside: my favorite Cubs joke: “Wrigley field is the best value in baseball because Cubs fans always get see the bottom of the ninth…”) Anyways, my most vivid memory is of a game that wasn’t actually played. In 2002, Joe Girardi, Cubs catcher at the time, announced to the crowd that that day’s game was canceled due to “a tragedy in the Cardinal family.” The catch in his voice as he said it is still heart-breaking when I hear it today. We later learned that Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile had died that day. The Cards may be the Cubs biggest rivals (though I’m not sure the opposite is true), but there was real class shown by the Cubs and a camaraderie between the teams and the fans that day. I don’t think the friendly confines were ever friendlier to a rival team and its fans.

    • B Whalen says:

      I can second this. I am a lifelong Cards fan originally from Illinois. My family have been season ticket holders in STL since the 70s. Half of my cousins are Cubs fans. It is a friendly rivalry. I went to school at the University of Illinois and my buddies and I took numerous road trips to Chicago for games at Wrigley and old Comiskey. The best days were the ones when both were in town. Park at Comiskey. The L to Wrigleyville for the afternoon game and back for the night game at Comiskey.

      In 2002, I organized a weekend in Chicago for the Cards/Cubs series with a bunch of my college buddies. We all flew/drove in. One of my best friends is a lifelong Red Sox fan from Boston. I had met him in Boston the summer before to see Fenway. I think the Rays were in town but the only thing you heard was rage about the Yankees. It was palpable.

      Fast forward a year and we were at Wrigley on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. There had been a lot of great Jack Buck stories told and beers hoisted in his honor since he had died just a few days before. Among Cards fans there was a bit of an Irish wake atmosphere – a mix of sadness and joy celebrating the passing of a legendary life/voice that we all grew up with.

      In the ballpark, there was a little bit of consternation as the game was late getting started. Shortly before Girardi stepped to the mic, a murmur swept over the crowd. The word had gotten out over an open mic in the KMOX studio and people in the stands with their radios heard it. So we knew what Girardi was about to say. When he did, a sold out crowd of 38,000 sat in absolute silence, save for one jackass down the left field line in the box seats who shouted something when Girardi said the game was cancelled and would everyone please exit quietly. He was immediately shushed and the entire stadium emptied in hushed tones. My Red Sox buddy, whose met his small town Midwestern wife in Champaign, sidled up to me and said in a voice filled with amazement, “I cannot believe that everyone is actually following instructions and being respectful. If this were Boston or NY, it would be a bloodbath.” They played the next night. It was the ESPN Sunday night game. It was awful. None of us wanted to be there and the Cards were slaughtered.

      Cubs fans were fantastic that Saturday. It could have been so ugly. Instead, they made it a sort of terrible beauty as Yeats once wrote.

  19. Robert says:

    Joe, why don’t you open your Top 100 write-ups to your fans? Each day let us know who is next on your list, and then allow us to do up an essay and send it in to you. If you like one, you can post it on the site.

    What do you think?

  20. Doug says:

    The worst game that I ever saw was at Wrigley and it’s still probably my favorite stadium to watch a baseball game at. I was in college (funny how many stories have included that) and took advantage of some student union promotion to get cheap tickets to a game between, I think, the Cubs and the Mets – this was in 2011, so both teams were absolutely wretched. Further, the weather was classic Chicago early spring weather – completely awful, a bone-chilling wind sweeping in from the lake (right through where the seats were) and a light drizzle that seeped through your clothes. It was absolutely awful. No one wanted to be there. I mean, not one single person in the whole stadium – the fans didn’t want to be there, and from the way the teams were playing, it was pretty damn obvious that the players didn’t want to be there. I’ve never seen two baseball teams try less in a game. Both teams put up some runs in the first inning and then basically tried to get out of there as soon as possible. The logical thing to do would have been to leave, I guess, but I’m stubborn. The game was finally called in the 7th – the Mets won, but I don’t think anyone cared at that point, we were just so happy to get out of there. Completely wretched.

    But I still love the ballpark. It’s a great place to watch a game, even if I never experienced it in its ‘glory days’ like some other posters were able to. It’s a piece of history and it’s a great place to watch a day game when the weather’s nice. It’s a beautiful park, without all the cruft that accumulates in most ballparks. And I have many fond college memories of riding the Red Line up with a buddy to catch cheap afternoon games. It completely fits my idea of what a baseball park should be.

    • otistaylor89 says:

      Gotta love those early season games in the North – not!!.
      April 15th at Fenway, weather started not to be that bad and then got worse as the game went on with 15-20 MPH winds in the upper 30’s. Sox pitcher pitcher “OK”, gave up 3 runs in 7 innings with 10 K’s, but the Sox really never got anything going and lost 4-0. Yes, I was at one of the four games Pedro lost in 1999.

  21. Ryan says:

    Joe, I know that this blog is something you do in your free time and we all get the pleasure of reading. You’ll have no complaints from me if you handle the top 100 however you wish. That being said, as a reader I’d much rather wait for the full posts than have the list come quicker with shorter posts. As Dr. G said, your posts are like found Halloween candy, and I always kept my candy well past the subsequent Halloween.

    I think you can safely assume no one here is in to much of a hurry to do anything. If we were we wouldn’t be always checking in for another 1,500 word post on a dating site for farmers!

    • mvandermast says:

      >Joe, I know that this blog is something you do in your free time and we all get the pleasure of reading. You’ll have no complaints from me if you handle the top 100 however you wish. That being said, as a reader I’d much rather wait for the full posts than have the list come quicker with shorter posts.

      Couldn’t have put it better myself! Also happy to hear about the Watson/Nicklaus book.

  22. Will3pin says:

    So very jazzed to hear about the new Watson/Nicklaus book in the works!

    I find it impossible to think of Wrigley Field without instantly reflecting on Steve Goodman.

    And Goodman’s version of Take Me Out to The Ballgame (w/ Jethro Burns scorching mandolin riffs) is probably my fave take on that tune.

  23. First, on Tony Gwynn: I once saw an interview with him and Ted Williams, and of course they adored each other. Williams said he needed to hit more homers and Gwynn talked as he did in Joe’s article. Mr. Ballgame’s response was something like this, “No, it’s your GUT. You’re too FAT. You can’t swing around it!” And he’s demonstrating on himself, since Ted by then had a front porch. And Gwynn was just dissolving in laughter.

    On Wrigley Field, it is a fault and failing of mine that I haven’t gotten there, but I share this for what it’s worth. The day Harry Caray came back from his stroke, I watched. This article talks about what happened in the 7th inning:

    I saw and heard it. The players were starting to laugh as the fans chanted “Har-ry.” It was special. It was what made the Cubs special: the interconnectedness that no longer can be.

  24. Kid A says:

    In 2007, I took my father to Wrigley for his first trip there. We went to see our Milwaukee Brewers take on the Chicago Cubs as a belated Father’s Day gift. It was my 3rd Brewers road game in two seasons.

    The game started off great with a ‘Crew 5 spot in the top of the first, and Gallardo going 6 and giving up 2 runs.

    Of course, when it came to the bottom of the 9th, and Aramis Ramirez hit a walk-off 3 run HR off Francisco Cordero.

    This capped off my 3rd blown Cordero save in the 3 road games I had attended. We were in our seats when the pitch was thrown and I’m pretty sure we were on the Red Line heading back to our car before the HR landed in the bleachers. My dad hadn’t moved that fast in 10 years, and hasn’t moved that fast since.

    Even now, as Ramirez is the Brewers third baseman, I don’t think my dad has forgiven him for costing the Brewers the pennant that year.

  25. Joe, I appreciate that you have time constraints. But could you make sure to write a somewhat longer blurb for my boyhood hero, Tom Seaver, when you reach him in the top 100?

  26. Mike Molitoris says:

    My first trip to Wrigley was in April 2004, I was in my final months in the Air Force stationed in Omaha, and decided to make the 8 hour drive with my eventual wife, to see the Cubs play my beloved Mets. I bought tickets for both the Saturday and Sunday games and ended up going on Saturday by myself while she went shopping with her friend. I decided I would get there early walk around, and maybe meet a Met or two. When I got into Wrigley I stood right by the visitor’s bullpen while the Mets took BP. At the same time my other favorite team (NY Giants), were set to make one of the first picks in the NFL draft, and there was a lot of back and forth that the Giants would go after Eli Manning. So I told my brother to keep me in the loop and give me a call once the draft was going to let me know what the Giants did. So as I am standing in the bullpen area, BP winds down and Tom Glavine walks over and starts signing autographs, he signs my ticket stub, and moves down the line, I am happy that I meant the eventual Hall of Famer and a current Met, thinking this is pretty cool. Then my phone rings and my brother starts going through the deal the Giants just made to get Eli. I am repeating things to him, to confirm I understand him with all the noise, and hang up and mention to the folks around the Giants got Eli. Glavine being within earshot says ‘Oh yeah?’ and walks back down the line to have me give him the details of the trade while he signs autographs. To this day I have that ticket stub, and I will always remember the unique interaction I had with the future Hall of Famer in the friendliest of confines.

  27. Joe Bishop says:

    This is my 46th season as a Cubs fan, and I’ve been to many games at Wrigley, but the first one remains the most memorable. This is because I was an impressionable 14-year-old kid, but also because the game was a microcosm of what it’s like being a Cubs fan. It was in August of 1970 against the Dodgers. We got there late because of a traffic jam on the Dan Ryan expressway, and sat down just in time for the bottom of the first. Don Kessinger got a hit (he was my favorite player in those days), Glenn Beckert got a hit, Billy Williams walked (I think) and the bases were loaded with nobody out. And then mighty Joe Pepitone hit a grand slam, and I was in heaven. And…..they lost the game 13-9. I had to look up the score, I remembered it as 14-8 or 9.

    Wrigley Field, where hopes are born, and die, but somehow never stay dead. I just got a Cubs tee shirt for Father’s Day that says “Just once before I die please”.

  28. Marco says:

    My Wrigley memory:
    2001, my wife gets free tickets from her office and to our surprise they’re two rows back from the Cardinals on deck circle. The two drunk guys next to us heckled all game, and in the 8th inning Pujols turned around.
    They immediately lay in to the guy at bat (Polanco). Nothing creative, just your standard “that guy sucks, he couldn’t fall out of a boat and hit water” crap. Calm as can be, Pujols says “You got it all wrong. I’ll bet you $100 he gets a hit here.” Naturally the drunk guys take him up on it, and of course Polanco raps a single. Pujols turns around, gives all of us a smile and a wink, and goes off to take his at bat.
    This was the absolute highlight in a day where McGuire hit two home runs.

  29. MikeN says:

    The last time you had a book out, there was actually a heavily promoted book on the same topic.

  30. Daniel Louden says:

    I grew up in a small town in Minnesota, but my old man used to live and work in Chicago. He worked for an airline, so we got free standby tickets whenever he wanted. This led to a lot of day trips to Chicago during the summer. We’d fly in early morning, go to the Berghoff, trip around the art museum, take in a game at Wrigley, then fly back at night. Being from a small town (23 kids in my graduating class) it was mind boggling to see so many people and buildings and Wrigley was always the highlight.

    1 baseball memory and 1 non-baseball memory stand out

    August 5th 1999, Cubs v. Expos (also, our last day trip) I saw Vladimir Guerrero single-handedly win that game. He was so quick and strong and forced things so aggressively that he took over the game in a way I’ve never seen. If you look at the Baseball Reference page you’ll see “Double to CF (Ground Ball)”. Literally a dribbler up the middle but he ran with such wild abandon that he was able to slide into second just in time. His limbs were flying around like a propellor. In the previous inning he threw out Sammy Sosa at home from the warning track. Got him by several steps. In the 4th he hustled so much on a routine grounder to third that the third baseman rushed the throw and ended up on 2nd and later scored. I’m a big stat guy, but his final line of 2-4 with 2 runs doesn’t communicate how much he dominated that game.

    2nd memory is from one of our earliest trips. I was very young and had to go to the bathroom. My old mad sends me into those hideous trough urinals. Suffice it to say I had never seen anything quite like that scene and I was probably visibly freaked out. After a few seconds (felt like minutes) of looking unsure, some drunk guy nudges me and says “don’t worry kid; we’re all flying the same equipment”.

    • Daniel Louden says:

      Here’s the link to the BBREF page:

      Top of the 4th, nobody out: Single to 3B (Ground Ball); Guerrero to 2B/Adv on E5
      Top of the 6th, two out: Double to CF (Ground Ball)

      He scores on both of those basically from pure hustle.

      Also, I should note that years later I moved to Chicago and for a time lived a block and a half from Wrigley. Proximity pretty much killed all the allure. Nothing like riding the ‘L’ with a million drunks to kill the romance of nostalgia.

  31. Gabor says:

    My dad and I are Marlins fans. A couple years ago, we were in Chicago for a music festival and intentionally sat in the Bartman seats!

  32. buddaley says:

    I visited Wrigley just once and loved it. I flew in from NY and met my son who flew in from Florida. One feature we particularly liked was that there was relatively little artificial noise from the scoreboard-few if any announcements, commercials, games, musical interludes, incitements to cheer or any other interruptions. Between innings all we heard was crowd noise and vendors. We could talk, reminisce, discuss, analyze and just enjoy the game and the setting.

  33. Matt says:

    I’ve been to Wrigley once in my life. My family took loaded up the station wagon and took a road trip up to Chicago one summer. I can’t remember how old i was, probably around 6-7 years old. of course, a trip to wrigley was on the schedule (we also stopped by old comiskey, and snuck into new comiskey, which was still under construction at the time).

    on game day, we decided to take the L to the stadium. now, being 6-7 years old and from kansas city, i was decidedly unfamiliar with public transit. the train was packed! and, it was a hot day, so conditions were all around unfavorable. one moment i’m standing there holding onto the pole, the next moment i’m sitting in my dad’s lap with someone saying lift his legs up. i had fainted on the train.

    later, my dad told me he was shocked at how fast people stood up to offer him a seat for us and to try and help (the raise his legs comment was in reference to getting blood flowing back towards heart/head). i was just fine after a couple of minutes, if somewhat embarrassed.

    when we got to the stadium and met up with my mom and older brother, my mom insisted that i go to the infirmary to get checked out. my dad takes me, the doc checks me out, tells me to drink some water but that i was otherwise okay. we head back to our seats, and when we get there my brother is freaking out. i guess he and my mom had just been on the jumbotron at the stadium. talk about adding insult to injury.

  34. Mark says:

    I’m joining the consensus above. I’d much rather you take a year or more to release the last 40 with full posts.

  35. Uncle Willy says:

    I’ve only been to Wrigley one time – I believe it was 1990, against the Reds. A college buddy and I went to Chicago to see games at Wrigley and Comiskey. We didn’t have tickets for the Cubs game, so it became the first time I bought from scalpers. As you might imagine, we overpaid for mediocre seats, and it was an overcast and drizzly day. I don’t even remember which team won. My clearest memory was of the discussion of a couple of guys seated behind us, who were convinced that Shawon Dunston was a future Hall of Famer.

  36. Mark Daniel says:

    I once sat in the bleachers at a Cubs game in the early ’00s. Nobody at all was paying attention to the game.

    • ksbeck76 says:

      That’s been my experience with every Cub’s game I’ve been to (or at least the ones when I’ve sat in the bleachers). I am a White Sox fan, though, so I’ll admit to some bias.

  37. Patrick Bohn says:

    I agree. It’s pretty obvious who’s left on the 95% of the list. Anybody can make a list of the Top 100 players ever, and any worth their salt are going to have Mays, Ruth, Gehrig, Johnson, Williams, Wagner, etc near the top. What’s Joe’s ranking of Willie Mays going to tell us about him that every other ranking of baseball players isn’t? His story about Mays, however, will be something few, if any, writers can duplicate

  38. I almost have too many memories of wrigley–skipping school to get in line for the bleachers when it was still day of game only, going with my dad to his office for a half day of work before we would take the train up for a game. Vin Scully’s beautiful line on the game of the week right after the lights were installed “She’s the grand old dame of the game, and now she’s wearing pearls.” The Sandburg game. The march up the third base line the whole team took after Game 2 of the ’84 NLCS, everyone still in the stands, positive in a few days they’d be back in Wrigley for the World Series. The dark days before that, when they used to put up sawhorses to block the upper decks, and the ushers would just tell you to sit where you liked. Sunny afternoons teaching a girl to keep score.

    But please don’t forget maybe the best Wrigley memory (second column down):

    Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t, but print the legend, etc etc. I first read that column maybe 20 years ago and I think of it every single time i walk up to the park. It’s what baseball is about, really.

  39. Will3pin says:

    Thanks for the Royko link, CM!

  40. Harvey Hecht says:

    You said you’re going to write about the red hot Royals. I assume you will not post that until their winning streak ends (don’t want to jinx them). So I hope you don’t post it for another two or three weeks.

  41. greggb says:


  42. nycgeoff says:

    My Wrigley memory comes from 1989. Doug Dascenzo leading off, and Lloyd McClendon doing everything right. Every baffling move that Don Zimmer made seem to pay off. There was a crazy optimism in the stands, everyone knew that none of this should work out, but it worked all season… until it didn’t.

    Looking at Baseball Reference, that team had more talent than I remember – Grace, Sandberg, Maddux, Dawson was still very good – but I remember the Vance Laws and Rick Wronas getting clutch hits to make everything work.

  43. Mark Daniel says:

    I don’t know if the Cubs still do this, but 10 or so years ago, to buy tickets for the upcoming season you had to go down to Wrigley in like February, wait in line, get your ID checked, and then they would give you a number. Then, at some later date, maybe even the next day but I don’t exactly remember, and at some ungodly hour like 5:00am, they drew a number and announced it. Based on the number drawn and your number, you were assigned a time to go buy tickets in person when they went on sale.
    I think there were something like 15,000 numbers drawn a couple of the times I did this, so if 10,000 was the number called, people with numbers 10,000-10,499 were allowed to buy tickets between 9 and 9:30 am (or something like that), with tickets going on sale online at 10am.
    They did this until they reached the highest number given out, then they would go back to #1. So if the number drawn was 10,000, it was not good to have number 9,999.
    If you got a number like 9,999, you might have been assigned a time like 1:30pm. This happened to me once, and so I decided to just buy tickets online. That was a bad idea because I couldn’t get through until the evening.

    Anyway, this seemed to happen ever year, regardless of how good the Cubs were the previous year. I think the large number of day games had something to do with this, since weekend games were really hard to get (and bleacher seats at weekend games were even harder) because you didn’t have to take a day off work to go.

    Luckily, the Cubs stunk most of the time so you could wait until July or so and get tickets on the secondary market, sometimes for less than face value (unless it was bleacher seats). But if the Cubs were for some odd reason a good team (like in 2001), it was hard to get tickets without paying through the nose.

  44. Pat Buck says:

    A day at Wrigley Field is, pardon the cheesy cliché, heaven. As a member of the Outdoor Baseball Extravaganza (and Massacree), a group of friends and I have travelled to Wrigley more times than I can count in the past 29 years. It is typically the centerpiece of our trip. It’s not because of the baseball, although a day at the park, any park, is better than just about anything else. There’s something magical about the place. Yes, it has its flaws, but when you walk through those gates and see that unbelievably green wall, highlighted by a brilliant blue sky, it’s easy to let yourself let all the cares in the world float away. The organ music, kids milling about, hoping to catch a foul ball during BP, pictures being taken, the smell of that grass and the closeness of the apartments beyond the outfield wall. It truly is a community, both in and out of the ballpark. It’s a stadium to be sure, but it’s a ballpark through and through. One special moment? Too many to count. A lifetime of memories? Absolutely.

    I look forward to your piece about Wrigley, Joe. All of the words above, and there are some wonderful things being written, will most likely pale in comparison to what you write. You have a very distinct and wonderful way with words and I’m grateful that we’re all here to read them.

  45. Bobby Mueller says:

    Here’s my Wrigley story. In 1991, I was 20 years old and trying to recover from the first painful break-up of my life (I was acting Emo before it was a thing). I moped around most of the summer between spring quarter and fall quarter at the University of Washington. In late August, I got the bright idea to hop on a motorcycle I’d purchased for $300 back in June and ride to Montana with a box of all the letters, cards, poems, and whatever else Christine had ever given to me. I planned to drive from my place in the suburbs of Seattle to some hill in Montana and read, then burn each thing, one by one. It was going to be so dramatic. So I hopped on my Hondamatic 400 and was on my way east. Yep, an automatic motorcycle. It was ridiculous. I got through Washington and the northern part of Idaho and hit Montana. Montana is incredibly wide, as states go, and at some point I decided to forgo the letter burning and just drive straight on through to Chicago to watch my favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, play the Cubs at Wrigley Field. I finally got through Montana, then Wyoming, then South Dakota, but ran into a detour in Minnesota that sent me through Iowa. Iowa was a foul-smelling place. At this point, I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get to Chicago, and the Pirates were only playing a two-game series there, so I decided it would be a great idea to not sleep and just drive on through the night. Around five in the morning I was getting tired, so I stopped for gas and bought some Jolt cola and Vivarin pills and went on riding for a second day without sleep. Never, before or since, have I ever felt so incredibly alive (do not try this at home). I kept on driving through the corn fields of smelly Iowa in a pounding rain, buzzed out of my brain on a Hondamatic 400, singing “Born to Be Wild”, “You Can’t Touch This”, and “Feelings”. In my head, I sounded terrific. I got to Chicago on Sunday afternoon and realized I was in way over my head. I had never ridden my motorcycle in city traffic before. I could go straight for long distances on the freeway, but when surrounded by Chicago traffic, it suddenly occurred to me that I was probably going to get run over by a taxi cab or city bus (both vehicles had no regard for my safety) before ever making it to Wrigley. I somehow ended up on Lake Shore Drive. Then my motorcycle died. I was not a mechanical sort of person. It revved up but the wheels did not move. I had no idea what was wrong, so I pushed the bike to the side of the road. At this point, I hadn’t slept for two days, I was miserable, smelly, tired, scared, and had no idea what was wrong with my cycle. I decided I would remove the license plate, gather up my things, and take a train back home, utterly defeated. Then, at my lowest point, a man came jogging up, asked what was wrong, looked at the bike for about 10 seconds, and fixed it. The chain had fallen off. All I could think was, ‘there’s a chain on this thing?’ He pointed me in the direction of a motel and I was on my way. I found a cheap hotel where I could finally get some sleep. It was, and still is, the most disgusting hotel I’ve ever stayed in. The first of the two-game series between the Pirates and Cubs was a day game the next day, Monday. I got up so incredibly excited that I was about to see my Pittsburgh Pirates play in person for the first time and at Wrigley Field to boot. It was a dream come true. And then it wasn’t. Once again, Chicago traffic did me in. I was headed towards Wrigley Field on a freeway of some sort (I have no idea now where I was then). I was in the far left lane, chugging along on my Hondamatic 400, when I saw the exit sign for Wrigley Field. I looked to my right at what seemed like a thousand lanes of traffic and knew there was no way I would be able to get over in time to take the exit, so I just kept on going, leaving Wrigley Field and Chicago behind me. Oh, man, it was devastating. I thought about turning around and trying to make my way back there, but Chicago was just way too much city for me. I took I-65 out of Chicago and headed south. I had two brothers who lived in Indianapolis, so I decided I’d head down to Indy and see them. On the way, I saw a sign for Gary, Indiana. I had seen the movie “Music Man” in which little Opie Cunningham sings, “Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, let me say it once again…” I figured I should stop in Gary, Indiana, and see what it’s like. About 30 seconds later, I was back on I-65, heading to Indianapolis. Eventually, I got to Indianapolis, surprising the heck out of my brothers, and told them story of my trip. The next morning, my oldest brother, Ted, drove me up to Chicago to watch the Pirates play the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Pirates lost, 6-2, but I got to see the ivy-covered walls and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with Harry Caray and about 30,000 others. It was amazing.

  46. mitch says:

    I went to Wrigley back in the late nineties for a game against the Dodgers. During bp, one of the Dodgers relievers, I can’t remember who, started playing catch with the bleacher bums. He’d throw it to the crowd, they threw it back, etc. Predictably, after one throw into the stands, the fan decides to keep it. Rather than letting the fan keep it, the player walked over to the wall along the right field line, hopped into the stands and made his way to the fan to get the ball back. I’m a Giants fan and it is still one of the best thing I’ve ever seen a player do. After, he decided to throw the ball through one of the holes in the manual scoreboard which is a really long throw. It took him two tries. Other than the fire in the high rise during the 5th I couldn’t tell you anything about the game. That’s Wrigley, though, it’s about more than baseball.

  47. Crout says:

    In the year 2000 I started dating Maggie. We met online, which was kind of a new thing then. We wrote and talked on the phone for a few months, then met face to face for lunch at a beautiful country inn near New Hope, PA. Our first date lasted almost 12 hours. We did not want it to end. Somewhere during the hours and hours of conversation, I happened to mention how much I loved baseball (Phillies) and wanted some day to see a game in Chicago at Wrigley. About a month later, Maggie called me and wanted to know if I had plans for an upcoming weekend. Yup…..she took me to Wrigley for a game. They played the Reds. It was Junior’s first season with them and were about 30 feet from the ondeck circle. After the game we met my brother and his family for dinner and had a rip-snortin’ good time. Best. Girlfriend. EVER. And guess what? Best wife ever as well.

  48. moeball says:

    Been to Wrigley 3 times…all 3 trips had a tale to tell:

    1) 1987 – Cubs were playing the Phillies – I think it was almost 27 years ago to the day – 6/18/87. My introduction to Wrigley and I think the bleachers were all sold out so I had to console myself with sitting right behind home plate. Only park in baseball where that would happen! At any rate – wind was blowing out strong early in the game. My first time at Wrigley so I thought with the park’s reputation that maybe fly balls that were only warning track deep in other parks would carry out at Wrigley. Instead I saw something I didn’t think was possible. Juan Samuel of the Phillies hit a very shallow fly – almost a popup – shortstop was going out, left fielder and center fielder for Cubs were coming in – then they all turned and watched it blow into the bleachers for a HR. That wasn’t even a well hit ball and it still carried out. Cubs wound up winning a wild one, 9-7.

    2) 1990 – went to Wrigley on my honeymoon! 9/24/90! Cubs played the Mets. This time I was able to get seats for my wife and I in the RF bleachers. In the top of the 6th Howard Johnson of the Mets hit a HR into the bleachers a couple of rows below me. As you know, a HR hit by an opposing player into the bleachers is going to get a rude reception from the Bleacher Bums and get tossed back out onto the field. Well, apparently that was news to the guy who caught the HR ball. He was all excited – it was the first time he had ever caught a ball at a game and he wanted to keep it. Then these two very large, burly – and I might add, drunk – gentlemen standing right next to him explained the local tradition to him. He wasn’t having any part of it and was going to keep the ball. Then they explained it to him in terms he could understand:

    “Either you throw the ****ing ball back on to the field, or we will throw you out on to the field, but either way, something’s going to get tossed! You get to choose!”

    He meekly replied “I see your point” and, next thing you know, we saw the ball flying back on to the field. Good times at the old ball yard! Cubs went on to win the game, 4-3.

    3) 1997 – a strange combination of events led to my going to a game on Saturday, 7/19/97. I was actually at Notre Dame for a business conference (yes, I went onto the football field while I was there!) and had a rental car out of O’Hare. I was supposed to drive back to Chicago and fly back to L.A. on Friday, the 18th. But there was some snafu at the conference that delayed me getting out of there that day so the secretary moved my flight out of O’Hare back to late Saturday afternoon. Saturday morning about 10:30 a.m. I was having blueberry pancakes at The Breakfast Club in Chicago (director John Hughes frequently either set his films in his beloved Chicago or otherwise made reference to various Chicago locations). I was glancing through the sports section of the Sun Times and noticed that Friday’s game at Wrigley had been rained out so they were playing a double header against the Rockies on Saturday, first game scheduled to start at noon. Aha! I thought, as the light bulb over my head lit up! This was doable!

    So I was driving around – obviously, I wasn’t too familiar with Chicago’s street layout, not being a native, but then I saw Clark Street and instinctively turned on to it, having no idea whether I was even going in the correct direction or not! But about 10 minutes later I started seeing signs that said “Park on my lawn for Cubs games – $10”. Then I knew I was in the right place, gladly parted company with $10, and set out down the street. I was Wrigley bound! Since this was a makeup game of the rainout the night before, the ticket office was scrambling to make tickets available and I was able to snag a seat in the left field bleachers.

    So I was all set – game 1 was to start at noon, would probably go 2+ hours which would still give me enough time to get to the airport, drop off the rental car and catch my flight back to L.A, although I would obviously have to forego game 2 of the double header. No problem!

    Whoops! Problem – Steve Trachsel was starting for the Cubs! He was known for being one of the slowest working pitchers ever. I could just see this game taking 3 and 1/2 or 4 hours and having to leave in the 7th inning because Trachsel would be taking forever between each pitch! Fortunately, he was on pretty good behavior that day, pitched 7 shutout innings and the game finished in under 3 hours (Cubs won, 7-0! I seem to bring them pretty good luck; I have yet to see them lose). I raced back to the airport, dropped off the rental car and barely caught my flight back to L.A., but I thought it was a pretty good Ferris Bueller imitation to cram as much fun as possible into one day!

    Sad to say I haven’t been able to get back to Wrigley since then but I’m always hopeful another opportunity will come! It truly is a wonderful place to catch a game!

  49. I don’t think I have anything that interesting about Wrigley, but I’ll throw in what I have.

    Basically, I went to college in the Chicago area in the 80s (84-88) and I would go whenever the Mets were in town, and hit a few other games each year, too. I tried the bleachers once or twice and hated them. As I saw it, the bleachers were for people who wanted to drink; the seats behind first and third were for people who wanted to watch the game. I’d buy a cheap seat well behind the bases, and more often than not could move down to something better. If the Mets were there, I’d try for autographs before the game and maybe hang out and wait for the bus after the game. (I did get autographs, but usually of coaches and such rather than players–Bud Harrelson was a thrill for a Mets fan of my age, Bill Robinson was a really nice guy who should have gotten the opportunity to be a manager, Tim McCarver was a thrill).

    Mostly I remember that as long as I wasn’t in the bleachers, it was always easy to find someone to talk baseball with. Also, I would usually wear a Mets shirt and/or cap, and frequently people would warn me–seemingly earnestly–about how I was risking my life to wear that stuff to Wrigley. Never once, though, did anyone ever actually threaten me in even the smallest way.

    Oh, and one fun thing was that in 1987, Howard Johnson and Daryl Strawberry became the first Mets to go 30-30. I saw three of the four 30ths–IIRC, one of the home runs at Shea before I went back to college, and then both steals at Wrigley at the end of the season, although I’m not sure about that. I remember one of the steals and a cheer going up from the Mets fans as one of them had hit 30-30.

    Shortly before I graduated, I saw the light towers that had been installed; I feel lucky that I wen to college while it was still all day games. The first Cubs home night game was about a month and a half after I graduated.

    Also, FWIW, I saw lots of great rock shows at Cabaret Metro nearby, too.

  50. Cuban X Senators says:

    The stories you tell of your upbringing, Joe, remind me a lot of my own. We were not wanting for much, but didn’t have much either. Vacations were usually camping, one year in the mountains and the next at the beach.

    The summer I turned 20, I decided having never ventured south or west of Boone, NC nor north or east of Philly, I’d put myself on a Greyhound and go to Chicago. I spent $80 on a roundtrip ticket and had $100 in my pocket for 4 days. My only goals were Wrigley, Comiskey and Second City.

    At Wrigley: 3 Hall of Famers in the Cub lineup, but it’s Jeff Treadway who went 4-for-4 and Hector Villanueva with the PH game-winner; Maddux win – .

    At Comiskey: Frank Thomas hit 6th in his 17th game in the show, and tripled for the 3rd time in his career. Sammy Sosa hit 7th & got his 15th HR in the bigs. Dan Pasqua hit clean up, of course.

    And at Second City: Great bit about a couple of kids whose parents hire a motivational speaker who “lives in a van down by the lake”. Some guy named Farley’s in the program, but not there that night, but 3 weeks later he’s on SNL. Four years later while hearing SNL playing in the background I have to figure out why I’m having deja vu and why every time that guy on tv says “river” I think he’s going to say “lake.”

  51. Kansas City Lawyer says:

    No personal memories of Wrigley that particularly stand out, but Phillip Wrigley’s refusal to install lights for night games led to a lawsuit in the late sixties from one of the shareholders of the corporation that owned the Cubs. The case, Shlensky v. Wrigley is a key case in business law and I think it is telling that as far back as the sixties, there was a sense that Wrigley was different.

  52. Rob says:

    Was anyone at Kenny Holtzman’s 1969 no-hitter game and still have their ticket stub? I am looking to purchase one for my dad, who was at the game.

    Feel free to email me at Thanks!

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