Visiting Wrigley Field – Five Tips For Newbies

Chicago Cubs


Visiting Wrigley Field – Five Tips For Newbies

Posted by Kurt Smith

If you’re visiting Wrigley Field for the first time, or even the third or fourth time, here are some fan tips for a game at the Friendly Confines. Wrigley is one of the most storied ballparks in baseball, but there are things every fan should know when they go.

 

visiting wrigley field welcome

Say, that new video board is really fan-friendly. What’s that grandstand behind it for?

Visiting Wrigley Field, Tip #1: Plan ahead for tickets. Especially nowadays, with the ownership of the Cubs fielding a champion. Wrigley can be a tough ticket in the worst of times; with a competitive team you probably want to avoid the third party markup. If you weren’t able to get online when tickets first went on sale, your best bet for a manageable deal on tickets is to check SeatGeek (but know that you can’t print Cubs tickets at home any more, so get them well enough in advance). If you see something you can live with, grab it. But check the team website first. Just in case.

 

visiting wrigley field upper level

If it’s good enough for the press, it’s good enough for you.

Visiting Wrigley Field, Tip #2: The upper deck view is great here. Yes, you have to contend with obstructed views, and there are websites that will help you with that. (As will, of course, this excellent guide to Wrigley Field.) But the upper deck is much closer to the field at Wrigley than at most ballparks, especially the new ones with multiple levels of suites. At Wrigley you’re almost on top of the action in the Upper Box, and even Upper Reserved isn’t too bad so long as a pole isn’t in the way.

The bleachers are special in their own way, but for a first time visitor, it’s much easier to enjoy the Wrigley experience from the main seating bowl. Just make sure you get food before you head upstairs.

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visiting wrigley field parking

“Hey, it was only $20 the last time I passed this sign!”

Visiting Wrigley Field, Tip #3: If you must drive, plan parking in advance. Most Cubs fans use the CTA Red Line (or the Blue Line and #152 bus) to get to the ballpark, but driving is still doable if you plan it ahead. Try my friends at ParkWhiz or the ultra-cool guys at CubParking, but don’t just get off the Interstate at Addison Street and expect to find something affordable close to the ballpark. You’ll eventually get so frustrated you’ll pay way too much for parking.

 

wrigley field food smokies

Made with Vienna Beef? Whew!

Visiting Wrigley Field, Tip #4: Try a Hot Doug’s dog or Wrigley Field Smokie. Hot Doug’s is a popular joint in Wrigley, selling dogs with unusual toppings named for Cubs greats. But Hot Doug’s is only available in the bleachers, so if you’re in the main concourse, seek out the Wrigley Field Smokies stand where they sell the classic smoked sausages that were a long time staple of Wrigley Field back in the day. Giordano’s pizza is great too, but you can (and should) try that in numerous locations in the city.

 

visiting wrigley field wrigleysville dogs

Betcha didn’t know there was more than one Wrigley!

Visiting Wrigley Field, Tip #5: Make a day of Wrigleyville. The whole area from blocks around embraces Wrigley Field on game day. There are great taverns like the all-time classic Murphy’s; the Cubby Bear across the street where the Foo Fighters once played; Slugger’s with dueling pianos; and a whole host of watering holes where people celebrate a Cubs victory and wait for the Red Line train crowds to thin out. Not to mention the cheap eats at places like Nuts on Clark and Wrigleysville Dogs…remember you can bring in your own grub.

There you go; five tips for your first time visiting Wrigley Field, or your second or third if no one’s shared these with you yet. There’s a whole lot of ways to save money on what can be an expensive outing, but this should get you started. And when you want to know a whole lot more, get yourself one of these!

 

More About Wrigley Field:

Three Cheap Routes to Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field Food – Three Things To Try

Three Extra Wrigley Field Tips

 

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Wrigley Field Seating – Some Helpful Tips

Posted by Kurt Smith

There is a nifty Wrigley Field seating chart on the Cubs website, but there are a few things you should know that the chart doesn’t tell you about. Like how to avoid obstructed views, for example. Here’s a few things to know about Wrigley Field seating.

wrigley field seating wrigley guide

The Wrigley Guide is a great help with avoiding obstructed views.

Wrigley Field Seating Tip #1: The Wrigley Guide. Both Wrigley Field and Fenway Park in Boston were built before that whole “open concourses with trusses” became prevalent in ballpark architecture, and as such the upper decks in both parks are held up by fairly wide support poles. These poles can cause a serious view problem to someone sitting in the wrong seat.

The Cubs and Red Sox do stamp the words “obstructed view” on certain seat tickets, but both clubs will not say as much unless the support pole nearly blocks the view of the entire infield.

Matt Motyka at WrigleyGuide clearly put a great deal of effort into showing fans how they can avoid being behind the dreaded support poles at The Friendly Confines. Type in any seat location, and the Wrigley Guide shows where a seat is on a seating chart, with the location of the poles marked so you have a good idea whether you will be behind one.

This is an invaluable tool if you are ordering tickets online; how many times have you ordered a ticket for a game and had the seat not be where you expected, even though you looked at the view from the seating chart? WrigleyGuide leaves no doubt of exactly where you’ll be. Honestly, I don’t know how these guys do this, but I’m grateful that they do.

And Motyka doesn’t stop there – he also has plenty of information on how to attend a game at Wrigley Field. And he clearly knows the place well—good knowledge to have. If you’re going to Wrigley and buying tickets online, use the Wrigley Guide website. You won’t be sorry.

Wrigley Guide: www.WrigleyGuide.com

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wrigley field seating bleachers

Like, don’t be diving into the catch fence and whatnot.

Wrigley Field Seating Tip #2: Some Wrigley Bleachers Knowledge. Like any classic ballpark, Wrigley Field has bleachers…real, bench-style, no back to lean on bleachers. A place to go and be in the sun on a beautiful summer day, a place to drink beer and get loud, a place to surround oneself with real nuts that bleed Cubs blue and bleed too much.

Most Terrace and Upper Deck Reserved seats cost less than the bleachers these days, although in both of those cases you could be sitting behind support poles that can block your view. (The Wrigley Field E-Guide explains how you can avoid them.) For prime games, say those against the White Sox or Cardinals, the price for these backless seats is a little absurd.

Still, it’s the bleachers at Wrigley, and for many that is enough. There are some things you should know, though.

The bleachers are general admission—which doesn’t mean that the place turns into a mosh pit, but it does mean that you have to get there early to stake out a good seat, and the favorite seats of most fans are the front rows in left field, where batting practice homers provide a plethora of souvenirs for early fans.

wrigley field seating bleachers

This photo was taken several hours before the gates opened.

If you want one of those, you’d best get there sometime around four hours before the game, at least. (I am amazed at what people will do for a baseball. Consider that half of the balls people catch out there are going to be thrown back anyway.)

The bleachers are also separated from the rest of the ballpark and have their own private entrance at the corner of Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. This is important. Other ticket holders cannot visit the bleachers, but bleacher ticket holders can see the rest of Wrigley.

This means that if you want pictures of the whole ballpark, or you want to wander around the concourse before the game, you’ll forfeit your chance at a good seat.

You should also know that you will be expected to throw back a home run ball hit by the opposing team, even though the Cubs supposedly don’t allow objects to be thrown onto the field.

A story is told about how a Reds player hit a home run that was thrown back hard enough to land near third-base coach Ray Knight, who picked it up and tossed it to a fan in the nearby seats…who then threw it back onto the field. Knight laughed and tossed it into the dugout.

Next time you pull up the Wrigley Field seating chart, try the bleachers. You can take the tour and sit in the bleachers and that’s great, but the main attraction there isn’t the view, it’s the fans. The bleachers and the seating bowl breed a different kind of Cubs fan, but both of them love their team.

That’s just two helpful tips for seating at Wrigley Field; but there’s a whole more to know about the seating in the Friendly Confines. When you go, be sure you’re on top of it with one of these.

(WrigleyGuide logo courtesy of Matt Motyka.)

More About Wrigley Field:

Visiting Wrigley Field – Five Tips For Newbies

Three Cheap Ways To Get To Wrigley Field

Three Foods To Try At Wrigley Field

 

Ballpark E-Guides free ebook

FREE PDF for traveling baseball fans! (That would be you.)

Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

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How To Get To Wrigley Field – Three Cheap Routes

Posted by Kurt Smith

Most fans know the basics of how to get to Wrigley Field…use the Red Line El, get off at Addison, etc. Which works just fine. With Wrigley not close to any interstates, and in the heart of a neighborhood, driving and parking can be difficult…and rough on your wallet. So as a public service to baseball fans visiting the Friendly Confines, I’ve included three other cool and cheap ways to get to Wrigley Field.

how to get to wrigley field irving park road

Irving Park…the high road to Wrigley.

Get To Wrigley Field, Cheap Route #1: The Blue Line and #80 Bus. CTA Rail’s Red Line is among the most common, but the Blue Line is a more attractive option if you’re visiting Chicago. It extends from the heart of the city to O’Hare International Airport, where hotels in the area won’t charge you for parking and can sometimes shuttle you to the O’Hare Station. Like the Red Line, it runs all day and night, so there’s no need to hustle to a station after extra innings.

The Cubs will tell you that you can take the #152 Addison Street bus from the Addison Station on the Blue Line (which is not the same as the Addison Station on the Red Line). Which you can. But this is a popular route, and the bus can get heavy with Cubs fans. Addison Street is only two lanes, too, as opposed to four on Irving Park Road on which the #80 travels.

The #80 will get you to the corner of Irving Park Road and Clark Street, and then it’s a short four block walk to Wrigley. The walk is another reason I prefer the #80—you’ll pass by some great and inexpensive takeout joints, like Wrigleysville Dogs and Nuts on Clark.

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wrigley field parking express bus

They use the lot for school or something during the day.

Get To Wrigley Field, Cheap Route #2: The Cubs’ Own Free Shuttle. The free shuttle for night and weekend games to the ballpark used to run from DeVry University and cost $6 a carload; even that was a great deal. But now the bus runs from the lot at 3900 Rockwell Street, and it costs only the gas to get there.

As the Cubs state, the lot is just east of the Chicago River, so if you’re coming from the west on Irving Park Road and you cross a slight bridge to go over a river you know you’ve gone too far. The lot is large enough to hold enough cars on most nights, and last I checked there are even some port-a-pots. Best of all, the bus will be full of happy Cubs fans on their way to their second home.

The Cubs say that tailgating is permitted in all lots, which I presume would include this one. Just be sure to hit that port-a-pot and reset the clock before you get on the bus!

how to get to wrigley field express bus

“Excuse me, does this bus go to Wrigley Field?”

Get To Wrigley Field, Cheap Route #3: The Pace Wrigley Field Express. I haven’t yet used Pace to get to Wrigley Field, but I have tried the U.S. Cellular Field Express (which I guess now would be the Guaranteed Rate Field Express) to get to a White Sox game, and I loved it for several reasons.

Pace is an inexpensive suburban bus service, and they run separate routes to both ballparks in Chicago. For Wrigley riders can grab a bus in Schaumburg or Lombard to Wrigley for just $4 each way, and parking at either pickup point is free.

The bus saves you the considerable hassle of navigating the Chicago streets to the ballpark or even to a CTA station, it costs less than you’d probably spend in gas getting there, and like the bus from the remote lot, it’s full of happy Cubs fans. I had great baseball conversations with the people on the U.S. Cellular Express; if you like talking baseball with strangers the Pace Express buses are for you. And free parking!

Of course, there are many more ways to get to the Friendly Confines…like the venerable Red Line, the Skokie Swift, Metra Rail and driving and parking for you brave souls. Know what you’re doing going to Wrigley with one of these.

More About Wrigley Field:

Visiting Wrigley Field – Five Tips For Newbies

Wrigley Field Advance Parking – CubParking

Three Foods To Try at Wrigley Field

 

Ballpark E-Guides free ebook

FREE PDF for traveling baseball fans! (That would be you.)

Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

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Wrigley Field Prepaid Parking – CubParking

Posted by Kurt Smith

Wrigley Field prepaid parking is a necessity for anyone willing to try driving to Wrigley Field. But as the guys at CubParking can tell you, you can do okay so long as you book beforehand.

Recently Nick Napoli of CubParking contacted me and educated me about ways people park their cars at Wrigley Field…and why they should order parking in advance. I was impressed enough with the Cub Parking service to interview him, and he graciously agreed to answer my questions. Here is the exchange below…thanks Nick!

And Click here to check out CubParking and land a fine Wrigley Field prepaid parking spot for your next Cubs game…

Wrigley Field Prepaid Parking Cub Parking

Awww…isn’t he a cute little fella? Yes, let’s park here.

I recommend to my readers not to drive to Wrigley, since parking is expensive and scarce by comparison to other ballparks. You offer a solution to that. How did you get started doing it, and what was the response early on? I know you guys are all Cubs fans, did you finally get fed up with parking hassles at Wrigley?

Well for starters that’s good advice. It’s always best to take the CTA to a Cubs game. The Red Line drops you off a block from Wrigley Field, it’s perfect. And you’re right, official Wrigley Field parking is scarce.

For people who choose to drive in, the locals here have been offering up their private parking spots since long before I was born. It’s tradition here, we have neighbors in their 70s out there parking and they’ve been doing it 50 years. They’ll tell you some stories man.

I started parking cars with my friends and neighbors when I was very young, maybe 8 or 9 years old. The neighbors would occasionally let me sell their spots too, it was a whole show. My kid brother who struggles with autism would set up a cooler of cold drinks and make tips. He didn’t mess around, Kurt. We don’t mess around at CubParking (laughs).

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wrigley field prepaid parking sign

We should try to get a little closer.

You are, I’m sure, more familiar with the driving and parking experience at Wrigley than I am. Can you contrast the difference between booking your spot beforehand and searching when you arrive? I expect the difference is massive!

Yes, customers who book Wrigley Field parking in advance don’t even realize the difference until after they arrive in the neighborhood and experience the pandemonium for themselves. Online reservations aren’t scrambling to buy a spot off a stranger, they have an address, a place to go and a reservation.

And over the years we’ve seen everything, or so we think. Those who wing it are often left frustrated. They end up buying a street spot off some weirdo, which is illegal. Or they park with a random bad guy who parks you in a random spot and then people get towed. Or people return to their car to find it’s blocked in. Just so many variables and things that can go wrong and ruin your game day experience. And unfortunately it happens every game.

When customers book with us, there is literally none of that. We’re the good guys. We meet customers at their parking spot when they arrive, get them checked in and on their way. We live in the neighborhood too, so we’re around after the game too in case they need us. So you’re right again Kurt, the difference is massive.

 

I notice you offer “all night” parking…a very nice option in Wrigleyville. Is this mostly because you want to offer people a way to party without having to drive? Where do people spend the night?

Glad you asked! We started offering it because people would ask for it. Customers often want to come grab their car in the morning, we have spots for that. As people arrive for the game, we can usually tell who is staying out late and who is leaving in the 7th inning, but now we offer overnight and extend time parking to everyone just in case.

And I’m not sure where people sleep but we have had folks ask to sleep in their cars. If it has to come to that, we don’t mind. I think we all agree it’s better than driving drunk. So hey, sleep one off in our garage if you have to. We all appreciate it.

How does Cub Parking turn a profit?

We split all money with residents 50/50. Everyone’s happy, it really works great.

wrigley field prepaid parking express bus

No, you can’t leave your car there for the weekend.

Would you say that Cub Parking is the most affordable option for fans? The Cubs offer free parking with a shuttle from near DeVry University. Does CubParking have better options than that?

Yes, we’re not only the most affordable option but we’re the best value too. That shuttle you mentioned isn’t a bad deal though. And you can’t compete with “free parking” either.

However, people who drive in often come in traffic from a long ways away. So the idea of finally getting out of the car and then waiting to pile on a crowded bus is not attractive. People want to get out of the car and just be there. Not to mention after the game you have to line up to shuttle all the way back.

For $20 or so you can park a block or two away from the park, leave early or stay late until traffic dies down. It’s money well spent, considering how expensive everything else is on game day. CubParking is the best money you will spend all day.

 

Do you have your favorite spots, say, for easy exit or for location close to hot spots in Wrigleyville? And if so, why?

Well, all of our spots are EZ Out, customers keep their keys and are free to leave whenever they want because they’re never blocked in. We have spots just steps from Wrigley Field and others that are up to 2 blocks away. There’s often a premium for the really close spots. But we also keep a few open for our regulars and seniors.

 

Are there plans for expansion, say for parking for other big city ballparks like Detroit?

Not really, no. We love the Cubs, and parking for Wrigley Field. It’s something we want to expand locally here in Wrigleyville. We’d like the whole neighborhood to use us. We put cash in our neighbor’s pockets, park responsibly, and even have spots for neighbors coming home that can’t find parking on game day.

We look out for our people. This is our neighborhood and we look forward to growing with it in the coming years.

(CubParking logo courtesy of CubParking.)

More About Wrigley Field:

Visiting Wrigley Field: Five Tips For Newbies

Three Wrigley Field Food Options

Wrigley Field at 100: A Century of Lovable Futility

 

Ballpark E-Guides free ebook

FREE eBook for traveling baseball fans! (That would be you.)

Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

You’ll also score this eBook, listing some of Kurt’s favorite sites for traveling baseball fans, absolutely free of charge…just for stepping up to the plate and subscribing.

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Wrigley Field Food – Three Things To Try

Posted by Kurt Smith

The Cubs may be modernizing the Friendly Confines, but they’re still keeping it relatively simple on the Wrigley Field Food menu. It still begins and ends with sausages and hot dogs, but the nice thing is that you have several variations on them to choose from.

And if you’re sick of hot dogs but still want something Chicago, they have a deep dish pizza from one of the very best in town.

So here’s some choices on my essential list:

wrigley field food smokies

They didn’t install the fancy hi-def sign here yet.

Wrigley Field Food Tip #1: The Wrigley Field Smokie. Wrigley Field Smokies were a popular food item many years ago, but they disappeared when Vienna Beef was no longer the hot dog provider at Wrigley. (And you thought putting in lights was an outrage.)

But now they have returned to the great delight of Cubs fans, including Carl Spackler himself (Bill Murray), who told the “Vine Line” blog that they were a favorite of his as a young Cubs fan.

The Wrigley Field Smokie is a Vienna Beef (yes, they’re back) all-beef, hickory-smoked sausage with a “secret blend of seasonings”, as Vienna Beef says on their website. Finally, a smoked sausage at the ballpark again.

The best part? You can get them in a local supermarket too. Great for your next Cubs-themed barbecue.

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wrigley field food gilberts

No, it doesn’t come with the onion. At least as far as I know.

Wrigley Field Food Tip #2: Gilbert’s Beef and Cheddar Dog. Gilbert’s became the Official Sausage of the Cubs in 2016; they’re made by a gang of fellows from Wheaton who believed (correctly) that crafting sausages should be as essential as crafting beer. They use all natural cheese, and no MSG or sodium nitrites. In other words, as ballpark sausages go, this is as healthy as it gets…the sausages are gluten-free even.

This beef and cheddar sandwich includes mac and cheese, bacon, caramelized onions and BBQ sauce. If you want to learn more about this one, you can read the review from my buddy Danny Rockett at Bleed Cubbie Blue. He’s got a high standard for ballpark food, so you know his raves count for something.

 

wrigley field food giordanos pizza

True, I don’t want to watch someone else eat this.

Wrigley Field Food Tip #3: Giordano’s Pizza. In 2014 Giordano’s replaced D’Agostino’s as the pizza provider at Wrigley Field, and with all due respect to D’Agostino’s, this is a move we can all applaud.

Deep dish pizza is essential Chicago, and Giordano’s is essential deep dish pizza. The chain of over 40 restaurants has been called the “best Chicago pizza” by, well, a lot of people. And rightly so. If you’re visiting Chicago, Giordano’s is as good a choice as any.

At most of the food stands at Wrigley you can order a 6-inch stuffed pizza, and it’s filling and reasonable for ballpark prices. I would get a fork for it. They have a thin crust variation at some stands, if you’re keeping some space for that footlong Decade Dog.

Deep dish pizza has been long overdue at the ballpark, especially in the Windy City. I may be critical of some of the Cubs recent changes, but this is one they got right.

That’s just three truly amazing and truly Chicago food items at the Friendly Confines, but there’s a whole lot more, like the Pig Candy BLT from Pork & Mindy’s, the Joe Maddon Italian Hoagie, and the Italian Beef (sandwich, but don’t actually say “sandwich” when you order it) from the folks at Buona. Don’t miss out…get yourself one of these.

(Beef and Cheddar photo courtesy of Gilbert’s.)

More About Wrigley Field:

What to Eat at Wrigley Field – Two Classic Items

Visiting Wrigley Field – Five Tips For Newbies

Three Cheap Ways to Get to Wrigley Field

 

Ballpark E-Guides free ebook

FREE PDF for traveling baseball fans! (That would be you.)

Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

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What To Eat at Wrigley Field – Two Classic Items

Posted by Kurt Smith

For what to eat at Wrigley Field, I’ve shared three choices that I recommend you try, but here are two classics that are essential Wrigley, even with the great new stuff they’re bringing into the Friendly Confines.

what to eat at wrigley field chicago dogs

Yes, those are poppy seeds. No, they won’t make you fail a drug test.

1) What to Eat at Wrigley Field Classic #1: Chicago Dogs. Most ballparks today have some sort of local flavor: Chicago keeps it simple…you’re at a baseball game, and you’re in the Windy City, so you get a hot dog. And if you want it Chicago-style, you’re in the right place.

Anywhere in Wrigley you can go to the condiments stand and dress your dog up in mustard and green relish. But there are now Chicago Dog kiosks that save you the trouble of going anywhere for the Chicago Dog experience.

A Chicago dog is a Vienna dog on a poppy seed bun covered with, in order: yellow mustard, chopped onions, neon green relish, pickle spear, tomato chunks, sport peppers and celery salt.

The Chicago Dog kiosks at Wrigley, like the Comiskey Dogs stand at its South Side neighbor’s ballpark, get this authentically right. You get your regular or bison dog with grilled onions if you like, and then take it to the condiment zone for your neon green relish and sport peppers.

what to eat at wrigley field vienna beef

You were expecting Kobe beef?

Chicago Dogs stands can be found most anywhere in the concourse area and on the bleacher patio. They give you a good-sized dog, and the bison dog is a bit healthier and tastes not terribly different. They will keep your change if you don’t ask for it though, as if they expect a tip…just ask nicely and they’ll give it back to you.

The lexicon of what to eat at Wrigley Field does include unusual dogs (like a Frito Pie dog—really, not making that up), but you really should go for the authentic Chicago version first. Well covered by Chicago Dogs.

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what to eat at wrigley field soft pretzel

“Yes, you can have half. But the cheese is mine!”

2) What to Eat at Wrigley Field Classic #2: The North Side Twist. I get that ballpark food is expensive, but even I balked somewhat at the price of the North Side Twist. I believe it was $15.

But after seeing one of these big monsters, I understood. The North Side Twist is a HUGE soft pretzel…large enough to go into a 12” pizza box. If you’re thinking you could handle this thing on your own, know that it’s two pounds, not including the dipping sauces.

Ah…the dipping sauces. The cornerstone of a good soft pretzel. The sauces included with the North Side Twist are chipotle honey mustard, beer cheddar cheese, and cinnamon cream. Hearing those words alone is generally worth the price.

A North Side Twist is easily enough for two people, and you can use two thirds of it with the other sauces before going for the cinnamon cream for dessert.

The North Side Twist can be had at one of the “Blue W” stands on the lower level concourse. Sorry for not remembering which one…but it shouldn’t be too tough to find. They’ll have it on display in its full glory. I believe you can get it in the Bleachers as well.

Carb heaven. Or Atkins’ nightmare. It’s all about your perspective.

That’s just two of the items at Wrigley Field worth trying…do you know about Gilbert’s craft sausages, Giordano’s pizza, Hot Doug’s dogs or the Joe Maddon Hoagie? You would if you read one of these!

More About Wrigley Field:

Three Foods To Try at Wrigley Field

Visiting Wrigley Field – Five Tips For Newbies

Book Your Wrigley Field Parking

 

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A Century of Lovable Futility: Wrigley Field at 100

Posted by Kurt Smith

(Note: This post was written before the glorious Cubs triumph of 2016. Eamus Catuli!)

With the Friendly confines of Wrigley Field at 100 years old, a fair number of Cubs fan pundits, George Will recently included, assert a connection between the Friendly Confines and a frequently hapless team. With Wrigley Field nearly always full regardless of the team’s fortunes or even the weather, there is little incentive for management to put a competitive team on the field.

If that is true…and the argument could certainly be made…then it’s a testament not to an often mismanaged ballclub but to the sublime beauty of a classic ballpark. There aren’t many cities where fans will still fill a ballpark after even a few consecutive last place finishes.

And maybe the theory could be turned around. Maybe Wrigley is at least partially popular because the Cubs are so bad so often.

 

Waiting For The Cubs

Happy 2016 Cubs Fans.

If you ask me the three most noteworthy happenings at Wrigley, I would come back with: Babe Ruth’s “called shot” (it didn’t really happen, but it’s memorable), the ejection of the Billy Goat, and the Steve Bartman incident. In all three cases the misfortune went against the home team.

Then there’s my own most memorable game there…in June of 2003. Mark Prior pitched a masterpiece for eight innings, striking out 16 Brewers, including whiffing the side in the seventh and eighth.

Manager Dusty Baker…who would later that season be blasted by the Chicago media for leaving a rattled Prior in the Bartman game…pulled his young star for the ninth and brought in closer Tom Borowski, who gave up a walk, a single, and a three run homer to the first three batters he faced. The demoralized Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the bottom and lost 5-3.

So yes, I’ve witnessed some Cubs heartbreak myself. Add a championship drought that is now at 108 years and counting, and there probably is a bit of a romance in the Wrigleyville futility.

(continued below)

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Wrigley Field at 100 go cubs

Go Cubs written in mustard? Why didn’t I think of that?

This is not lost on the Cubs, of course. In the midst of planning for the modernization of this ancient ballpark, the team management…surely well aware that this team could be headed for another 100-loss season…have made 2014 the year of Celebrating Wrigley Field.

Part of the celebration is discounted pricing for tickets – the Cubs are actually offering tickets at the low (for Wrigley) price of $19.14 (for the year Wrigley opened); the seats are in the upper outfield corner and there are still lots of tickets available. My buddy Floyd Sullivan, author of “Waiting for the Cubs”, tells me he could even get Opening Day tickets.

 

wrigley field at 100 murphys

Don’t forget that back then $10,000 a year was considered rich.

The Cubs also added some specialized food items for each decade of Wrigley’s existence; out on the concourses they’re peddling a Reuben Dog for the 1910s, a TV Dinner Dog for the 1950s, and a Bagel Dog for the 1990s.

In the suites patrons can order 1960s Wedge Salad or 1980s Cajun Wings, and there are ten unusual drinks to go with them…like the 1920s Gin Whiskey and the 1930s Called Shot. Yes, the Cubs celebrate a Yankee home run.

And there’s the Wrigley Field replica cake, put together by “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro…a beautiful piece of work that was later found dumped in the trash, hardly eaten.

That is so…Cubs.

All this, of course, directs attention away from that heartbreaking statistic…that the Cubs have never won a World Series at Wrigley Field, their last Series win coming in 1908 at West Side Park. Obviously, no one remembers—and few fans today could even conceive—what a powerhouse the Cubs really were back then.

 

wrigley field at 100 harry caray

Is that Will Ferrell?

But the atmosphere of an entire block of fans sitting in the stands, bleachers, taverns, and on nearby rooftops celebrating a ballgame, and Chicago dogs with onions, relish, pickle spears and sport peppers can keep people coming back to see a nearly perennially inept team.

These people are baseball fans, through and through.

For a century now, visitors to Wrigley Field have had no problem understanding it.

More About Wrigley Field:

Visiting Wrigley Field – Five Tips For Newbies

Three Cheap Routes to Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field Food: Three Things to Try

 

Ballpark E-Guides free ebook

FREE PDF for traveling baseball fans! (That would be you.)

Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

You’ll also score this PDF, listing some of Kurt’s favorite sites for traveling baseball fans, absolutely free of charge…just for stepping up to the plate and subscribing.

Get on base without swinging the bat…sign up today!

Book Review: Waiting For The Cubs

Posted by Kurt Smith

(Note: this review and this book were written before the glorious Cubs triumph of 2016. Eamus Catuli!)

Sometimes I think that if the Cubs won the World Series, it would be a gigantic letdown.

When the Red Sox finally broke their 86-year jinx in 2004, it was made much sweeter by the way it happened…an unprecedented comeback from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the hated Yankees in the ALCS. That would have been memorable even without a curse, but it lived up to how sweet a long-awaited World Series victory could truly be for Red Sox fans.

What could the Cubs do to match that, especially given that their futility has reached (and now passed) a full century? The White Sox went longer than the Red Sox did without a championship—a full 88 years—but the baseball world outside of Chicago almost yawned when they breezed past the Astros in the 2005 World Series.

No Longer Waiting.

There hardly seems any way an end to the Cubs drought could match the buildup. Floyd Sullivan, author of “Waiting For The Cubs: The 2008 Season, the Hundred-Year Slump and One Fan’s Lifelong Vigil”, doesn’t seem overly worried about the possibility.

Most people appreciate that it’s tough being—or more correctly staying—a Cubs fan. But until one reads Sullivan’s account of the 2008 season, one doesn’t really feel the effect of a lifetime of devotion without a payoff and with no proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Cubs win blue w

A blue W. For “Victory”.

Throughout the book, despite that the Cubs have one of their best seasons in years, Sullivan—and his equally devoted Cubs fan family—are always expecting the other shoe to drop, always waiting for the imminent disaster to befall their heroes.

One could hardly blame them, especially after the 2003 NLCS, when Steve Bartman’s unfortunate blunder sparked a legendary collapse. Despite that a writer of Sullivan’s skill could have easily put a few gratuitously heart-wrenching pages in his book about the incident, he almost skims over the subject, informing the reader that “if you’re interested in reliving it, Google Steve Bartman.”

Sullivan writes from a personal angle, but the book never feels like someone telling his own story. Instead he shares the pain and occasional euphoria of being a Cubs fan, something his family and friends, and certainly any fan, can relate to. At one point he humorously shares the possible double meaning of what his children get written on their Wrigley brick dedication, which reads simply, “Thanks, Dad”.

His family has moved from Chicago to York, Pennsylvania; and while this precludes frequent trips to the Friendly Confines each year, it does enable him and his family to see the visiting club in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which they do frequently, with a trip to Washington thrown in. His description of Nationals Park, which opened in 2008, is spot-on accurate.

His tales of trips to Pittsburgh are hilariously fraught with the dangers of the western PA Turnpike (with which I can definitely identify), but also a couple of weather miscalculations…one trip ends with a game postponed in what he believed was hardly a downpour, as a result he cancelled a later trip on his own due to torrential rain and missed a full nine innings of Cubs baseball at PNC Park.

Waiting For The Cubs

It did.

The book mainly focuses on the story of the Cubs’ 2008 season, with some side tales of Cubs fan agony. It’s the centennial of the team’s last World Series championship (yes, that was in 1908), but it’s also a season where fans believe the team has the best chance to break the curse that befalls them, with pitchers like Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Marmol, and position players like Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome.

Despite that the Cubs won 97 games and the NL Central Division in 2008, though, Sullivan never seems to believe that the Cubs will achieve the ultimate glory—indeed he almost predicts an easy victory for the Dodgers, the Cubs NLDS opponent. It bears out, with the Dodgers whitewashing the Cubs 3-0 in the series. Another Cubs season, as he puts it, ending with a loss.

But it’s not all bad…the family actually meets Ryan Dempster over the winter.

“Waiting For The Cubs” concludes with the story behind the Fred Merkle boner that cost the Giants the 1908 pennant…seemingly the last time that the baseball gods smiled on the Chicago Cubs…and Sullivan does a better job than most at clearing up what really happened that day at the Polo Grounds.

Many books have been written about the Chicago Cubs and their futility, but few of them capture the mind of the Cubs fan. Sullivan does it perfectly, making the story both personal and universal. No Cubs fan reading this book would disagree.

Nor, in fact, would any baseball fan. Highly recommended, whether you’re a fan of the Cubs, White Sox or Cardinals.

Cubs Win

You can still hear Harry saying it.

Click here for Floyd Sullivan’s “Waiting For The Cubs” blog.

$312.32.

That’s how much it cost a family of four to see a game at Wrigley Field in 2016, according to the MLB Fan Cost Index. And that was before they won their first championship in 108 years.

Are you planning a visit to Wrigley? Do you want to slash that ridiculous total, AND find a great seat, parking spot, and a tasty sandwich at the game?

The Wrigley Field E-Guide is your complete insider’s guide to Chicago’s classic ballpark, full of money-saving tips…and you can download and own it today!

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