This time of year always makes me miss Chicago. Not for the tall buildings, the crowds or the world’s best pizza — though there are times I miss those too.
As the grass turns green and the weather starts to warm, I long for the sounds, smells and cheers that always came from Wrigley Field.
I lived in Evanston, Illinois, for four years while I attended Northwestern University and often took the train to the north side for a ball game.
Bleacher tickets were the best — and for me the cheapest — option for the games. I’d often hang out in Wrigleyville waiting for the second or third inning. Just enough time for a scalper to be desperate to sell whatever tickets they had left.
There is something about Wrigley Field that is hard to describe. Unlike the cold, enormous fields that are being built these days to accommodate as many people as possible, Wrigley still maintains its historic charm. No matter where you sit, you feel like you’re close to the game.
The Friendly Confines truly lives up to its name — you can talk to just about anybody at the game, whether you knew the people when you got there or not. Friends come easy.
I often get teased for being a Cubs fan. Friends of mine joke that while most baseball teams have players with drinking problems, the Cubs are a drinking team with a baseball problem.
There is plenty to tease about, I suppose. The Cubs, often called the Lovable Losers, have had their fair share of troubles. Winning doesn’t always come easy for them and as most people know, they haven’t won a World Series in, well, awhile.
I never cared. I’m a competitive person, but I enjoyed going to Wrigley simply for the game. Win, lose or rain delay, it didn’t matter. When I couldn’t make the games, I’d sit in my apartment and watch the games, while attempting to do homework.
But, I’m a sucker for baseball in general. I grew up playing baseball and softball. My brother played for a long time as well.
I love pretty much every baseball movie. The classics, like “Field of Dreams,” “Eight Men Out” and “The Natural,” line my shelves. Other favorites include “The Sandlot,” “Rookie of the Year” and more recent ones like “42” and “For Love of the Game.”
Of course “A League of Their Own” is near the top of my list. My great aunt actually played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. I’m rather proud of her for that.
So as the boys of summer take the fields this weekend and in the many warm weekends ahead, I’ll listen for the sounds of a solid hit off the bat and the smack of a strike as it hits the catcher’s mitt. Luckily, I live right by Thorne-Rider Park and those sounds are plentiful all summer long.