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updated: 4/22/2014 5:40 AM

Wrigley a field where dreams came true

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  • Wrigley Field sports large numerals celebrating the iconic park's 100th anniversary.

      Wrigley Field sports large numerals celebrating the iconic park's 100th anniversary.
    Associated Press

 
 

Only the Cubs could even think of getting away with this.

And they will, too, because celebrating the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field this week is nostalgia at its most tearjerking.

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Never mind that the Cubs never have won a World Series since the doors to this ballpark opened on April 23, 1914.

The only way to dismiss curses like the Billy goat and the black cat is by providing an alternative that explains the Cubs' futility.

How about Wrigley Field?

As a living, breathing, thinking, talking, smirking organism, the place has decided not to permit the Cubs to win championships in the house that disappointment built.

Smart baseball executives come to work in Wrigley Field and become dumb. Great players come to play for the Cubs and become mediocre at best. Optimistic fans come to cheer the home team and become pessimists.

If you asked this decaying cathedral to baseball, it likely would say it wants it that way. A championship team would detract from the ivy, bricks, scoreboard, intimacy and charm.

I'm convinced that the Cubs' choices are to move out of Wrigley Field and win a World Series within a few years or stay and not win one for a few more centuries.

I half-joke that I grew up in the bleachers because it was so easy to ride the CTA from Diversey and Kedzie to Clark and Addison.

Since the Cubs seem to be encouraging baseball fans to list their memories of Wrigley Field, here are mine in reverse order:

5. I was a friend of the son of an apartment painter in the neighborhood who planned his summer schedule to work only when the Cubs were on the road.

During homestands he would take us to weekday games and we sat in the left-field bleachers enjoying every minute of every inning.

4. My brother and his friends were six years older than me and I would tag along with them to Sunday games.

We stood in line early at the entrance to the bleachers, purchased our tickets, raced up the ramp to the left-field seats and got as close to the front row as possible.

3. When the Bears played at Wrigley Field, we would get to the ballpark sometime during the second quarter.

In those days a fan could go across the street at halftime to the CubbyBear, consume a beverage and return for the third quarter.

Men lined up just inside one of the gates to use the restroom. We reached a hand through the bars, begged for ticket stubs and used them to get in for the second half.

2. Who can forget big crowds of only 20,000, an empty upper deck, Jack Brickhouse reminding that 22,000 unreserved grandstand seats go on sale every day and waking up in the morning knowing you could go see a ballgame in Wrigley Field?

1. Remaining as the fondest memory is my first visit to Wrigley Field in 1950, as 5-year-old, with my parents and brother, to see the Cubs play the Dodgers.

Like many people recall in their mind's eye, most remarkable was that the game was in color instead of black and white like the few we were lucky enough to see on TV back then.

When the Cubs led, I wanted a Cubs hat and when the Dodgers led, I wanted a Dodgers hat. Was that a sign of a future as a sports columnist or what?

Early in life as a fan I attended a rodeo in Wrigley Field, a Bears' game in which they knocked out Bobby Layne on the way to a berth in the NFL title game and no-hitters by Jim Maloney and Ken Holtzman.

So, Wrigley Field, happy anniversary and thanks for the memories.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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