Blogs & Opinion


Wrigley Field: Alex Ferguson on trip to Chicago Cubs' home ground

Alex Ferguson Posted 12th September 2013 view comments

Chicago's relationship with its Cubs is something special.

The city has given the Cubs, one of the city's baseball teams, nothing but love for over a hundred years. The Cubs have given back nothing but heartbreak for over a hundred years.

They last won a World Series in 1908. We'll put this into perspective - since the Cubs won, America has been involved in two World Wars, Vietnam, two Gulf Wars and a Cold War, and been through 18 Presidents in the process. It's discovered and buried Jackson, Janis, Jim and Jimi.

Hedge of reason: Alex likes the ivy at Wrigley Field

Hedge of reason: Alex likes the ivy at Wrigley Field

Sure, Chicago has a relationship with Michael Jordan, who won the city six championships - even if you can't really see Michael Jordan regalia anywhere in the city where you would expect to find most of the stuff.

Sure, the City had a relationship with Walter Payton and the Bears, but the Bears haven't won a title since 'Sweetness'. Sure the City remembers Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bo Jackson, and the White Sox who won a title in 2005, but it's not the Cubbies. The Cubbies have this City's heart and soul.

Summers

"We're like brothers in arms in the streets and the stands // There's magic in the ivy and the old scoreboard"- Eddie Vedder, 'Go All The Way'.

I'd already taken a photo of Harry's statue, looked at the names that were part of my summer like Mark Grace and Andre Dawson, and remembered childhood.

Alex Ferguson
Quotes of the week

It's funny, because I'm not a Cubs fan. I'm a fan of the team diametrically opposite to the Cubs - the New York Yankees. The Cubs are used to losing, the Yankees are used to winning. But if there's a team that I have a soft spot for, it's the Cubs.

You see, my soft spot for the Cubs started way before I went to a game at Yankee stadium. My soft spot started during my summers in North Carolina with my family, when the weather outside was too hot, and there was the opportunity to sneak in a couple of hours of day-time baseball.

The team on cable TV during the day was almost guaranteed to be the Cubs. I remember gawping at Wrigley Field and its ivy, singing along with the seventh inning stretch song, and listening to the dulcet-if-a-little-drunken tones of the team's famous commentator Harry Caray, and wished that sometime in my life, I could be there, celebrating baseball in the sun.

I don't remember if the Cubs won or lost during those days - it was the game that I loved.

"Oh. My. God. I'm here. I'm here!" - Me, September 4th, 2012

Standing outside Wrigley Field in the sun, I was suddenly the happiest man in the world. I'd been looking forward to the trip to Chicago for about six months, but I'd been looking forward to going into Wrigley all my life.

Home

I'd already taken a photo of Harry's statue, looked at the names that were part of my summer like Mark Grace and Andre Dawson, and remembered childhood.

And then I walk in.

Because of the fact that the Cubs were playing the Florida Marlins, who - like the Cubs this season, were playing rubbish baseball - the park was at best 25 per cent full... at best. But I didn't care.

I'm in the bleachers, above the ivy...the place where I'd always dreamed of being. The bleachers themselves weren't anything special - just rows of benches, but it was the Wrigley bleachers, and it felt like home.

Behind us stood buildings where entrepreneurial beings had stacked seats on top of the buildings, so viewers could watch games for free while drinking their weight in beer. But I was happier being inside than outside. And I always am, as it goes.

Inside the bleachers is more fun than outside, because home runs land inside the park (mostly). If they don't, you fight it out on the street with a buddy to try and get a souvenir.

Above us towers the giant scoreboard, which is still hand-operated. It's great, it's beautiful, and we wish for a moment that Lord's and The Oval hadn't abandoned their old ones for the new model. Sometimes, tradition's better in a world that's so technological it hurts.

Chatter

Anyway, the game speeds along and both inept sides switch seats. I'm the happiest man in the world. We move from bleachers to near home plate, via a quick smoke break and chat to a fan who's been going since the 1960s. Ron Santo's his favourite player ever.

You see, my friend Andy - a Chicago resident who actually suffers with his Cleveland Indians in his spare time - scored four seats (two in the bleachers, two on the other side of the park) for a grand total of $30, thanks to the volume of people who didn't want to go and see a poor Cubs team on a Wednesday afternoon.

The beer, popcorn and sweet hawks continue their chatter at the people in the more expensive seats, trying their best to sell overpriced drinks and beverages to the thirsty and hungry masses.

I sit there, take in a grand slam (unfortunately it's a Cubbies pitcher who gives it up), and share the differences with a lovely 25-year old couple between scoring a baseball game and scoring a cricket match.

Both sides were equally intrigued. The game stops for a moment, because a bat's flown out of a Marlins player's hand and hit a little kid in the crowd. Suddenly, baseball - the game that brought America back to a sense of normality after 9/11 - isn't important. The kid is. The Marlins player looks shocked. We're all shocked. Thankfully, we find out that the kid's OK, but it's a hairy moment.

"We'll root, root, root for the Cubbies, if they don't win it's a shame" - 'The Seventh Inning Stretch"

The Seventh Inning Stretch in baseball is the baseball equivalent of a brief tea, when the crowd at the game sings along to 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame', a song that celebrates the game and the fact that you're in the stadium.

Smiling

Sons hug daughters, fathers embrace wives, and life's ills are forgotten. At Wrigley Field it's become more than a tradition - it's become a rite of passage. The Cubs decided to get celebrities to sing the tune.

Some have been exceptional, and some have absolutely ruined it. This time, we get Cubs Hall-of-Famer Andre Dawson (it's a big deal to the small crowd), and he does an adequate job. I'm smiling to myself. I'm happy to be there.

"Hey Chicago, What do you say? The Cubs are going to win today" - Steve Goodman "Go Cubs Go"

After the stretch, we pop back to the bleachers. The survivors of the long hot day are a little drunker, and a little more tired-looking. Some of the crowd has swapped spots. Some are sheltering behind the bleachers to take advantage of the mister which is cooling down some of the crowd.

We get the wind right, and we're at the top of the bleachers with mist moving up. It makes the heat and humidity a little more bearable. It's funny, because after our stretch, the Cubs actually wake up. They score four runs in their part of the seventh inning, add another in the eighth, and hold on to win 9-7.

The bleachers are happy. The exhausted-looking Cubs faithful (you know, the ones who've suffered with the team for most of their lives, spending a ton of time and money in the friendly confines in the process) are happy.

They've had an appalling season, but this win gives them a little relief. There's a bit of high-fiving, but no-one's too enthusiastic. After all, it's been a season to forget.

But for me, it's been a moment of the season that I can treasure. Go Cubs go, indeed.

back to top

Other Blogs:

Latest Posts in :

Alex Ferguson

King James reigns

Alex Ferguson celebrates a wacky, smile-inducing year in US sport - and salutes Miami's LeBron James....

comments

Alex Ferguson

Start your engines!

Alex Ferguson predicts who will triumph in NASCAR's showpiece race, the Daytona 500....

comments

Alex Ferguson

Clowney's no joke

US sports expert Alex Ferguson profiles Jadeveon Clowney, the biggest defensive pick of the draft....

Alex Ferguson

Call of the century

Spacemen Portland pick Bowie over Jordan - Alex Ferguson ranks the biggest decisions in US Sport....

comments

Alex Ferguson

A perfect union?

Alex Ferguson looks at the possible unionisation of college football and how he would handle the issue....

Alex Ferguson

Independence aces

Alex Ferguson kicks off his Independence Day fun by picking his 20 best bits of American sport....

comments

Jeff Stelling

Battle for survival

Jeff Stelling hopes Sunderland can scrape to survival like his beloved Hartlepool did this week....

Paul Merson

Arsenal must win

Paul Merson says Arsenal have to have a right go and beat West Ham to keep their top-four bid alive....

Jamie Redknapp

Double delight?

A year on from 'bite-ban', Luis Suarez should clinch the title and PFA Award, says Jamie Redknapp....

Ed Chamberlin

Van the man?

Ed Chamberlin explains why Tejay van Garderen is capable of plucking the Tour de France's Yellow Jersey....

comments

Peter Beagrie

Transfer target

Beags says top sides are after Ross McCormack and picks his Championship boss of the season....

Stuart Barnes

Rhythm and flow

Stuart Barnes says video referees are ruining the rhythm of games and causing too many delays....

Luke Dorn

Obstructing the law

When is obstruction not obstruction? Luke Dorn offers up an easier option to replace the current ruling....

Bob Willis

Away for a while

Bob Willis thinks Jonathan Trott will be absent from England duty for some time following his relapse....

Rob Lee

Out of the woods

Rob Lee heralds the return to form of Lee Westwood and says he could yet win multiple majors....

Rob Lee

Pinky and perky

Rob Lee blogs on his vivid Masters Breakfast attire and the men that made waves at Augusta National....

Barry Cowan

Barcelona bounce

Barry Cowan says Rafa Nadal must bounce back in Barcelona and hails the form of Stan Wawrinka....

Mark Petchey

Fillip for Ferrer

Mark Petchey marvels at David Ferrer's win over Rafael Nadal but downplays it's long-term significance....

Alex Hammond

Strong to the finish

Alex Hammond previews the action at Sandown, including the final day of the National Hunt season....

Alex Hammond

Just Cause

Alex Hammond reveals her tips for the Irish Grand National and the other decent racing in Ireland this weeend....

Alex Hammond

Going the distance

Marathon entrant Alex Hammond previews the Newbury action and Scottish National meeting at Ayr....

Glenn McCrory

Change is coming

The Klitschko brothers' heavyweight domination will be over within two years, says Glenn McCrory....

Johnny Nelson

Battle of Manchester

From Crolla's derby delight to Munroe's emotional farewell - Saturday had it all, says Johnny Nelson....

Glenn McCrory

Manny happy returns

Manny Pacquiao is back to his best and could yet get it on with Floyd Mayweather, says Glenn McCrory....

View from America

The Fog of War

Simon Veness reviews the "torturous" hype ahead of the NFL Draft and why it's so hard to predict....

Neal Foulds

Trump tip

Ronnie O'Sullivan is favourite for the Worlds - but Judd Trump could spring a shock, says Neal Foulds....

Neal Foulds

Night at the Circus

Neal Foulds is looking forward to another fun, raucous Snooker Shoot-Out - but can't pick a winner....

comments

Neal Foulds

Simply the best?

Five-time Masters champion Ronnie O'Sullivan may be the best snooker player ever, says Neal Foulds....

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Gear shift

Wolverhampton and Belle Vue will want to kick-start their seasons on Tuesday night, says Kelvin....

Kelvin Tatum

The contenders

Kelvin Tatum runs through the teams and riders ahead of the 2014 Elite League Speedway season....

Kelvin Tatum

Kelvin's 2013 Review

Kelvin Tatum salutes Poole's hierarchy and Tai Woffinden in his round-up of the speedway season....

comments

Richard Moore

The final curtain

Richard Moore reflects on Sunday's Closing Ceremony to an unforgettable Olympic Games......

comments

Richard Moore

A lasting golden glow

Richard Moore suggests all the British Olympians should visit schools and talk about their experiences....

comments

Richard Moore

Favourite Froome

Richard Moore reveals his predictions for the 100th Tour de France, which starts on Saturday....

comments

Wayne McCullough

Wonderful Davis

Wayne McCullough watched Antonio Rogerio Nogueria take on Phil Davis at UFC Fight Night 24. ...

0 comments

Wayne McCullough

Jones shines bright

Wayne McCullough was highly impressed as the talented Jon Jones made short work of Mauricio Rua....

2 comments

Wayne McCullough

A bloody marvel

Wayne McCullough salutes Diego Sanchez as he edges out Martin Kampmann in a UFC humdinger....

0 comments