Wrigley Field, Chicago

The Red Sox playing at Wrigley Field for the first time ever.

Grounds crew getting everything set for the historic first pitch.

The left-field bleachers are right up against the sidewalk on Waveland.

The second coolest scoreboard in the Major Leagues.

This is about where Ferris Bueller sat on his day off.

Hey Hey in the foul pole. As you can see, the right field foul pole is two feet closer than in left field.

Johnny Damon manning center field wearing his high red socks. He was the face of the 2004 Red Sox World Champion “Idiots.” A year later Damon became “Demon” when he signed with the Evil Empire and had to cut his hair.

Bronson Arroyo winding up. He was a 14-game winner for Boston that year, but in 2006 they stupidly traded him to Cincinnati for would-be slugger Wily Mo Pena who was a complete bust. Arroyo was a star for the Reds for the next nine years.

Because it’s a National League park, Big Papi makes one his rare appearances at 1st base. He’s holding on former Red Sox 2b Todd Walker. Ortiz homered twice that day.

Mark Bellhorn leading off 3rd base.

Our seats were one row back and one seat over from where I sat in 1998.

Not surprising…they do a pretty rousing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Wrigley. Kara joined in and even sung “Root, root, root for the Cub-bies” just to show spirit.

First visit: 1995. I was on the way home from the NAB Convention in New Orleans. Booked a connecting flight in Chicago so I could catch at least part of a Cubs-Giants game. Thought I’d get there by the 3rd inning. Screwup. I misread the time zone in USA Today (the Information Superhighway was brand new and even though I had AOL 1.0 (!) there was no MLB.com yet. I got there at the end of the game and they refused to let me in even to walk around even for a moment. I told them I’d flown all the way from New Orleans just to do this. Sorry, sir. This would have been the 9th stop on my World Ballpark Tour, but it wasn’t happening that day.

First game: September 11, 1998. I was in Nashville to edit our TV spot for the Fall Arbitron Book and we finished early. I switched my flight to Boston for a Southwest flight to Chicago’s Midway Airport. Took a cab to Wrigley for an afternoon game against the Brewers. It was a beautiful day and a great place to see a game. I bought a $4 Terrace Box seat for $10 from a guy on the sidewalk who had an extra. Had an Old Style. Okay, I had two. 1998 was the year of the Mark McGwireSammy Sosa home run race and I saw Sammy hit #59 off Bill Pulsipher, who gave up 9 runs in 4.2 innings but actually left with a lead. He pitched for the Red Sox for part of 2001 and didn’t do much better. Future Sox 2b Mark Loretta (the guy that Dustin Pedroia replaced) played 1st for Milwaukee and future Sox submariner Mike Myers pitched the 8th. When the infield dust settled the Brew Crew won, 13-11. The game lasted 3:41 and I almost missed my connecting flight at O’Hare.

Second game: June 10, 2005. I was a Varsity Coach for the Wellesley High School Softball team and my daughter Kara played 1st base (fielding % of 1.000, I might add). We’d just been eliminated in the fourth round of the State Tournament the night before by New Bedford so Kara and I got up early and flew to Chicago fr the first-ever appearance of the Red Sox at Wrigley Field. It was also the first meeting of the two teams since the 1918 World Series that, as everyone knows, Boston won. The Chicago home games in that series were played at Comiskey Park, the White Sox stadium.

The flight from Boston was filled with Red Sox fans heading to the historic game. I met some folks on the plane who paid $200 for general admission bleacher seats and another guy who paid $175 to sit on the roof across the street from right field. Our seats were in the same section where I sat in 1998, exactly one row back and one seat over. Face value had gone from $4 to $30. The place was absolutely hopping and loaded with Red Sox fans. I was hoping none of them would embarrass me in front of all those Midwest-friendly Cubbie fans. Except for one slightly-loaded guy with a Boston Nomar jersey (Nomar was a Cub at that point but was on the DL) it was fine. A great game for one inning, then it turned into a laugher. Got to see Greg Maddux pitch and get the win (5-2). He also hit a home run. Kara and I were both scoring the game and when Maddux hit one over the ivy in center she gave me a startled look. “The pitcher just hit a home run!” Doesn’t happen often, but put in in your “been there, seen that” bucket. David Ortiz homered twice, but it way too little. Cubs win, Cubs win, Cubs win, 14-6.

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