David Hein is an international basketball and sports writer/reporter based in Regensburg, Germany, and a featured columnist with FIBA basketball (among other outlets) and owns/operates heinnews. An Illinois native and die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, David will be chronicling his 7,000 mile journey from Germany to the World Series, one game at a time. Connect with David Hein on Twitter.
Metra down to Chicago from Franklin Park, October 29 – The morning of Game 3 was spent trying to figure out two things: first how to get to Wrigley with public transportation and then actually more important where I would be sleeping – a minor technicality I know. Eventually I got in touch with a high school friend who lived in my original hometown Franklin Park, a suburb west of Chicago.
Then it was time to head into the city to get this done. At the Geneva station I saw a family of four in Cubs gear and found out they were from Omaha, Nebraska and came to the area to take in the game in the city. I joined them on their journey and it was really wonderful of them to take me with them. We arrived downtown and jumped on the Red Line and I felt that we were nearing the pulsing heart of the Cubs. It was thrilling to get closer and closer. Then there it was – Wrigley Field in all its splendor. You could see it from the Addison station.
There was a lot of emotions going through my mind. I didn’t go to a lot of Cubs games as a youngster but as I mentioned in a previous post I watched loads of games on TV – spending thousands if not tens of thousands of hours watching the Cubs. And here I was walking by the stadium on the day of Game 3 of the World Series. I definitely teared up. We walked over to the Cubs sign at Clark and Addison and traffic was still running on both streets.
It was really really cool to see the sign reading World Series Game 3 and all. But my pilgrimage had already been worth it.
My Omaha family wanted to head over to Murphy’s to get in line and eventually watch the game from there. I accompanied them to the line but then went out on my own to just look around. I snapped some pics of the Harry Carey statue – for those who might not know, Carey was the Cubs TV announcer for many many years, including those when I was growing up. And he was really legendary for his mannerisms and singing style of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”. So it was cool to see the statue.
I returned to the Nebraskans and asked them if I should take a couple pics of them. And then I was off again exploring. I went down Waveland, which runs behind the bleachers in left field. Eventually I saw someone walk by me who really, really looked like Cubs president Theo Epstein. A woman close to me also noticed it but then turned back around and continued on her way. But nobody who he was passing by seemed to see the resemblance. But I had to see.
I had packed a backpack for three days on the road because I wasn’t sure when I would be heading back to my brother. I started walking behind him and was more and more convinced it was him. But no one turned their head or stopped to say hi – none of the people wearing Cubs hats and shirts. He was already a good half block ahead of me and my backpack wasn’t really letting me keep up with him. I walked six blocks behind him and he didn’t slow down at all and I just had to give up my “chase of Theo”.
So I figured I would check the bar scene. The cover charges were 50 and 60 dollars mostly. There was no way I was going to pay that but I just wanted to hear someone tell me they would charge me 60 dollars to enter their establishment.
I came across two guys with a tent and chairs who were selling tickets. Let’s check and see just for shits and giggles.
“What’s your cheapest ticket?” I asked. With almost a disgruntled look, the man on the right said: $2000 standing room only in the bleachers.”
“And your cheapest seat?”
He answered $2,200 in a pair of sections which you could see on the chart at the table were way up in the left or right field corner really far.
I knew I wasn’t going to buy a ticket and I felt like actually engaging this guy in a conversation instead of his routine $2000/$2200 answers. I mentioned that I am a journalist and then asked: “What’s your most expensive seat?”
“10,000 dollars for one of the club boxes.”
“Would you get that?”
“Oh probably not. They would talk you down and it would end up being about 6,000 dollars.”
Man, that’s some nice cash to dish out for one game.
This was about seven hours before the game started and I was wondering how many tickets he had left – “dozens? Hundreds?” I asked.
“I have 16 left.”
About that time a man came up and asked how much the cheapest single seat was and I kind of felt like answering “$2200” but let my man in the chair give the same answer I would have. The man who asked looked at his smartphone and then at me and said: “It would be 1,435 dollars online.” and then walked away.
“Take your ticket and … ” was the man in the chair’s response though I left out the end of his comment.
I thanked him for the info and his time and wished him good luck in getting rid of the tickets and left him to practice his varying ways of answering “2000 dollars for standing room in the bleachers.”
Back on the bar lookout, further down Clark away from the ballpark I found G-Man, which was only asking for a 5 dollar “suggested donation” to a charity fund – there was a jar on the bar.
“I can’t believe some of the cover charges these guys have,” said the G-Man doorman to me.
I originally went in and there were quite a few drunk people in there and I decided against it before I put in my 5 bucks and left. I headed back towards the field.
I was starting to get a bit hungry and wanted to grab a bite. I noticed a hot dog place but there was a line out the door and said no way to that. Ah … Mexican. I could go for some Mexican. For those who may not know, Chicago and the suburbs have a very large Hispanic population. And I really love Mexican grub. Two tacos and beans and rice as a lunch special for 6.99 – some nice carnitas and pastor. Oh yeah. Plus it was a chance to rest my feet from walking with my backpack.
I took my food to go and wanted to find a bench and headed back to Waveland and there were loads of people lined up and then the started cheering. What was this all about? Well, it was Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant crossing the street. Wow, didn’t see that coming. I guess the players’ parking lot is right behind the left field bleachers. Next to cross was Addison Russell. This was pretty cool. I found a bench right by the fire station and took a seat next to a man and a woman. While I was enjoying my Mexican I was chatting with this couple from South Carolina. The easy small-talk question was Do you have tickets? The answer: “One.” That kind of seemed strange – which they could tell by the look on my face. She explains: “He got one from someone at work and I will watch the game from the hotel.” Man, that’s a different twist.
After finishing my Mexican – good place called Azteca de oro – I thanked the South Carolinans for the chat and then wished them fun for the evening.
I decided I would check out this player entrance a bit more. The crowd roared when they saw manager Joe Maddon drive by in his jeep and then later walk over the street. While waiting for the players there were other baseball personalities walking by – Bob Costas, John Smoltz, Tom Verducci (yeah, the hair was perfect), Cubs TV annoucer Len Kasper among others. And of course the players continued coming through – John Lackey, Jon Lester, Wilson Contreras, David Ross. To be honest, this was pretty exciting. For all the reporting I’ve done in my life, I haven’t done much baseball which is nice because I can still be a kid and root and just be a fan.
Eventually security decided to block off the players from the fans – pulling big plastic curtains as the players crossed the street.
I decided to head back to the Nebraskans and see how close they were. They were at least 20 people from getting into Murphy’s but they were happy to hear about my adventures. But mainly they were excited about finally getting close to grabbing a spot for the evening. I was considering maybe waiting and hanging around with them but then decided to go back out and explore.
The crowd had definitely gotten a lot bigger and it was much more difficult to move around freely. I had been bouncing around already four hours or so and really just wanted to sit again and grab a beer. Unfortunately it was impossible to just find a bar for one beer. I did walk beyond G-Man to Myron Mixon’s Smoke Show and they mentioned they were only letting people stay until 4pm and then were clearing the place for reservations. It was 3:30 then so that worked. One beer – and another chance to sit down – and then I headed out again. When I neared the stadium again it was packed. And getting anywhere was a burden – especially with my heavy backpack. I had had enough. I called my friend to check on trains out to him and he said it would be no problem to come back early and watch the game with him.
And I was off – working my way to the El and then to the train. Finally getting back to Franklin Park was definitely was interesting – any time you head back to the place where you were born raised. You look around at what might have changed, will drive by the house of an old friend and remember some good times. But really there is the feeling of man, I’m happy I got out of here.
You all know the result of the game. Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin was excellent and the bullpen solid before Coco Crisp – really? the guy who sounds like a cereal? – came up with the game winner in a 1-0 victory. Chicago now trailed 2-1 in the series and the momentum of stealing a game on the road was gone.
It had been a long day and it was time to crash for the night.
It’s also time to give you a break.
Talk soon and Go Cubs!