Wrigley Field is one of Chicago’s top tourist attractions. Baseball fans across the nation often dream of visiting Major League Baseball’s second-oldest stadium, behind only Fenway Park in Boston. For nearly a century, it’s been the home of the Chicago Cubs, and maintains a throwback ballpark atmosphere iconic to the sport. This American institution is something you have to see to believe, and this guide can help you make the most of it.
Visiting historic Wrigley Field offers the chance to witness a piece of baseball history. Since the very first game, the ballpark has been a part of many historic moments, including the “called shot” by Babe Ruth when he allegedly pointed to a bleacher location in the 1932 World Series and then hit the next pitch straight there, earning a home run. Ernie Banks hit his 500th career homer here back on May 12, 1970, and Pete Rose slammed his 4,191st career hit to match Ty Cobb’s record for the most hits in baseball history. Sammy Sosa knocked in 60 home runs in 1998, 1999, and 2001. Of course, the team sometimes referred to as the Loveable Losers also managed to play here for nearly four decades without going to the post-season, from 1945 to 1983. Things have gotten better in recent years, with Wrigley Field hosting the NLDS four times in 1998, 2003, 2007, and 2008, the NLCS three times in 1984, 1989, and 2003.
Wrigley Field is so iconic, it even has its own attractions within and around the ballpark! Historically, the ballhawks could be found hanging out around Waveland and Kenmore Avenues just outside the leftfield wall (rarely on the right), hoping to catch baseballs that sail over during practice. You can still find them there today – and while you might not have a very good chance of success going up against the old-timers, joining the group just before the game is a great way to take in the ambiance of the neighborhood and get the full experience.
While you’re here, don’t miss out on a guided tour of the Cubs’ legendary home. Tours take you behind the scenes and are offered daily starting in March. Enthusiastic guides dole out insider information and fascinating stories, some of which include their own childhood memories of the park.
Few Major League ballparks can rival the atmosphere found at a Cubs game in Wrigley Field. One of the best ways to experience the game is to sit among the “bleacher bums” in the outfield. Yell, scream, and cheer, but be sure to save a little for the traditional “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” sing-along in the 7th-inning stretch. As the saying goes, a day in Wrigley’s bleachers is better than a day being just about anywhere else. Keep in mind that although bleacher ticket holders gain access to the entire park, tour tickets will not get you access to the game.
If the bleachers aren’t quite your cup of tea, the best value is in the 400 section between the bases. Although it’s in the upper deck, you’ll get some of the best seats in the house with great views of the field and the neighborhood beyond the park’s walls.
(Helpful Hint: although you may have heard stories of tenants inviting pals to watch the game from their lawn chairs, those days are long gone — today you’ll find that the apartments have been converted into meeting rooms and the atmosphere tends to be focused on something other than the game.)
As 2014 kicks off the 100 years of Wrigley Field celebration season, there are expected to be numerous special events, giveaways, and activities. Keep an eye out on the Cubs’ schedule for the day or days you plan to be there. If you plan to bring the little ones, a dedicated Kids’ Corner will be hosting face painting, balloon artists, and even a coloring contest on weekends, with winners selected on Sunday mornings. Cubbie Closet provides kids with the opportunity to dress up like a big leaguer – complete with full-size uniforms for a great photo op.
The park is in the heart of a thriving neighborhood, appropriately named Wrigleyville, filled with great bars and restaurants. You can make going to the game an all-day (or even all-night!) event with the overwhelming array of entertainment options. For hours before and after the game, the intersection of Clark and Addison Streets is teeming with baseball fans taking in food, drink, and festivities. The Cubby Bear, opposite Wrigley Field’s front entrance, is packed on game days and is a hot spot for live music on other nights.
No trip to Chicago in the spring or summer is complete without a trip to Wrigley Field. It is a truly unique sports experience that any baseball fan will enjoy, yes, even the Sox fans from the Southside! So grab some peanuts and CrackerJacks and root, root, root for the home team. You’ll feel like a winner no matter how far out of first the Cubs may be.