Today I want to tell you the story of the first and only time I ever visited Wrigley Field. I was going into my Super Senior Year at Tennessee. What is a Super Senior? Well, a Super Senior is someone who changes majors midway through college and has to stay an extra semester. By "has to stay" I mean they are gifted the beautiful gift of an extra college football season. If I could write a glowing YELP review for being a Super Senior, I would.
So like I was saying, I was going into my Super Senior year when my mom took me to Chicago. This was the first time I had been to Chicago that I could remember, but certainly not the last since then. I was a huge Atlanta Braves fan at the time, and she wanted to take me to see the Braves play a series with the Cubs at Wrigley. I was pumped, I have a very good Mom for those that don't know. Go tell her hey girl hey on twitter and instagram.
We did lots and lots of exploring, as any good tourist would. Again, by that I mean that I forced us to spend several hours at the ESPN zone while I tried to win the pop-a-shot basketball game. No one ever called me a quitter at an arcade, no one. Remember my birthday this past year? The success I've had at Chuck E. Cheese and Dave and Busters is a gift really.
Thirty five games later, we left to get ready to root root root for the away team at Wrigley.
We went early and watched the Braves warm up, and I arrived at Wrigley in full Braves gear. Buddy Carlyle, number 38 shown above, tossed me the ball after he was finished warming up. We even got Mike Hampton to talk on the phone to Nan, my almost 90 year old grandmother, who is the biggest Braves fan you'll ever meet. We were definitely the biggest Braves fans at the park, and the team was kind to humor us.
Once the game started though, everything changed. If you've never been to Wrigley before, I am certain I am not going to do this stadium, or environment justice. The experience was downright intoxicating, and I drank it all in. I kid you not, by the third inning, I went and bought a Cubs shirt and hat, and changed clothes in the bathroom. You'd be a crazy person not to be in full Cubs gear at Wrigley.
I'm sure you're judging my fan loyalty very hard right now, and I can't say I blame you. When I left Chicago, I left as a Braves fan, but it was the power of the tradition at Wrigley Field that just sucks you in.
There are many traditions like this in sports, that die hard sports fans want to feel, experience and be a part of, if even for just a night. Granted, you'll never see me taking off my Tennessee Orange mid-game at any field, ever, but there are certain stadiums, arenas and fan bases that you can't help but throw up your arms, change your jersey and say, "When in Rome!"
Cheering for the Cubs at Wrigley Field, experiencing a Tennessee Football game at Neyland Stadium with 104,000 of your closest friends, being a Cameron Crazy at a Duke Basketball game in the student section at Cameron Indoor... these are some of the most powerful traditions and exhilarating experiences I've personally been a part of.
If you have any tickets lying around for me to go to a Packers game at Lambeau Field in the dead of winter, watch the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, take a picture of the Green Monster at Fenway Park or bust an ear drum as the 12th man in Seattle's Century Link Field, I would gladly accept because these are bucket list venues that I'd probably change jerseys for.
What venues are on your bucket list? Are there any stadiums you've been where you instantly fell in love with the fan base and the power of their traditions?