I have been a baseball fan since the late 1950s, attending countless Orioles games at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards. Over the years, I have traveled to other cities and watched baseball games when the opportunity presented itself. However, I had never traveled to see the Orioles play on the road.
That changed in 2014, when the schedule showed the Orioles going to Chicago to play the Cubs. Wrigley Field was celebrating its 100th anniversary and was planning to make several renovations to the park in the near future. I had always wanted to visit Chicago. This was a perfect opportunity to see the Orioles play on the road and visit historic Wrigley.
The first order of business was to convince my wife to travel to Chicago for the trip and the game. Since the city has a lot to see and do, it was an easy sell. I then contacted the Cubs’ ticket office and, after reviewing various site-line views, we bought lower-level seats.
My wife made reservations at the Courtyard Marriott near O’Hare Airport. The hotel has a shuttle that runs to the airport. We would ride the elevated train into town. The “L” train goes throughout the city and is a convenient way to travel. This would be our mode of transportation.
The game was scheduled for Friday, Aug. 22 at 1:20 p.m. We decided to drive to Chicago on Aug. 16. This would give us time to see and enjoy the city for several days. The trip would be capped off by watching the Orioles play at Wrigley. The drive was more than 700 miles, mostly turnpikes, and went past numerous farmlands and the University Notre Dame.
Arriving on a Sunday, our plans were to explore the city the next several days. We visited the Navy Pier, which is located on Lake Michigan. There are numerous shops and restaurants there. We took a short cruise on the lake, rode a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, shopped on the Magnificent Mile, and sampled two of Chicago’s favorite foods — the Chicago hot dog (no ketchup), a meal in itself, and the city’s famous deep-dish pizza.
When game day arrived Friday, we left early in order to walk around the stadium and watch batting practice. We caught the “L” and transferred to the Red Line to Addison Station at Wrigley. The train was filled with Orioles and Cubs fans. When we exited the train, we were near rooftop level of homes and businesses near Wrigley. The street was filled with fans and vendors. Directly across the street was an old fire house. It was a great atmosphere.
When we entered the stadium, we acquired two Kerry Wood bobbleheads as part of the Cubs’ 100th anniversary giveaways. The walkway around the section entrances was very narrow. Looking at the rustic structure made us think of the numerous fans and iconic players who came here over the years. We stopped at one of the Cubs stores, which was packed with fans. A friendly sales associate gave us a bag for the bobbleheads at no charge. Our next stop was to find our seats and watch batting practice.
The game featured former Oriole Jake Arrieta against Kevin Gausman. During the game, we talked with mostly Cubs fans, all of whom were friendly and complimentary of Camden Yards. It was a scoreless game until the fourth, when Luis Valbuena hit a long home run to center field. The Cubs added a second run that inning followed by a home run by Javier Baez in the fifth.
Nelson Cruz accounted for the Orioles’ lone run with a towering homer to left field in the seventh. The Cubs added a run in the bottom of the seventh, making the final a 4-1 Cubs win. When J.J. Hardy made the final out in the ninth, the song, “Go Cubs Go,” started blaring from the speakers. Their fans merrily sang along as they exited the stadium. A white flag with a blue W was raised, another Wrigley tradition.
We took one last trip around the stadium before exiting onto a still crowded street. It was one of the most enjoyable trips we have ever taken, seeing a major city, enjoying its culture and attending an Orioles game at one of the most historic baseball parks in the country. I would highly recommend going to Chicago and seeing a Cubs game. We hope to get back there someday soon.
Jim Barnes, a CPA originally from Hanover, Md., and now living in Myrtle Beach, S.C., worked 37 years for Maryland State Government, ultimately retiring as CFO with Maryland’s Water Quality Financing Administration. He and his wife are enjoying retirement — going to the beach, walking, playing pickleball, golfing, watching Pelicans games and traveling, including the occasional trip back to Maryland to visit their sons and the Orioles.
Jack Gibbons spent 46 years in sports journalism, including a chunk of that time as sports editor of The Baltimore Sun. Now retired from full-time work, Jack serves as the lead editor and writer for BaltimoreBaseball.com’s “Calling the Pen,” a periodic feature that highlights baseball essays written by the community. If you would like to contribute to ‘Calling the Pen,” send a 750-1,200-word, original piece via email to [email protected] and [email protected] for consideration.
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