Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

It’s déjà vu all over again!

Yogi Berra

The two-hour car ride seemed to take days as we passed cornfields, bean fields, and soon, as we approached the city, very modern-looking buildings. The excitement was growing as we passed each milepost. My father and I were taking my young son to his first major league ballgame in Chicago.

With this trip, we were creating a new generational tradition; my father took me as a young child, and today, we were both going to open a new world to my young son. At age five, he loved baseball. He didn’t quite understand the concept of what he was about to experience, nor did I until I was there.

To pass the time in the car, his grandfather and I filled his mind with historical facts that he would understand. We told him how Babe Ruth, supposedly, called his home run shot at Wrigley Field. We told him stories of great Cub players, such as Ryne Sandberg, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, and Billy Williams.

Once we made it to the city, his eyes were filled with amazement! Coming from a very small town literally in the middle of a cornfield, this was a whole new world to him. There was so much to see! He was in awe at the trains and the buildings, and as we neared the airport, he couldn’t believe his eyes at how big the airplanes were and how close to the ground they flew.

Finally, we reached our destination. As we rounded the corner, there it stood: Wrigley Field. The bricks seemed to open up and swallow us into a whole different world—the sea of blue and white shirts, the vendors all trying to sell us their scorecards, T-shirts, Cracker Jacks, and anything else under the sun they could possibly market.

I looked down at my son, and his eyes were the size of the baseballs he loves to play with. I giggled because while there was so much to look at and so much to take in, I knew we had just begun the whole experience. So before we entered the park itself, we walked around the entire perimeter of the park. He saw the outside view of the old towering scoreboard. The flags on top of the scoreboard were gently flowing out toward us, which any Cub fan would know is a huge factor in the outcome of the game; the “Wrigley Winds” determined a lot of how the game was to be played that day. With the wind blowing out of the park, the ball would be, too!

We walked by the firehouse right across the street and peeked in. The firemen, when not on a call, will sit on their lawn chairs right outside the firehouse and take in the sights and sounds that surround the beautiful field. We walked back to show him where the players park. He picked out a black Hummer as his favorite, which we believe belongs to Carlos Zambrano, his favorite pitcher. “I wonder what Sammy drives, Mommy.” I was thrilled to hear the magic taking over in his eyes and voice.

We finally made it around to the gates to enter the park. The lines were long but moved quickly. Once inside the concourse, the excitement grew for all of us, and the smell of hot dogs and popcorn filled our noses. With a firm grip on his tiny hand, we carefully looked for the sign to point us to our seats. We walked under the banners that hung from the ceiling honoring many of our “Boys in Blue” from the past. I stopped briefly to take a picture of the banner of my favorite player, Ryne Sandberg. He was the starting second baseman the day my dad first brought me to Wrigley Field and is now in the MLB Hall of Fame.

We finally found our section—Section 220. This was the moment I knew my son would remember for the rest of his life. We slowly walked up the concrete stairs and as we reached the top step, there she was. It felt as if someone had unveiled the most beautiful piece of artwork—Wrigley Field. The green ivy against the red bricks seemed greener than I remembered. The green grass was cut in a pattern that made it look painted. The huge green scoreboard across the field from us towered over the tiny little people out in the bleachers. The sign scrolling across the bottom said, “Welcome to Wrigley Field.” The organ was playing an upbeat version of “It’s A Beautiful Day for a Ballgame.” I looked down at my son—he was frozen, with a look on his face as if it were Christmas morning.

My father and I pulled him to our seats, but he wouldn’t sit. He was too busy taking it all in as the players were down on the field warming up. “Look, Mom! Number 21! That’s Sammy Sosa! Mom, that’s Sammy Sosa, right there!” His excitement nearly brought me to tears. I had just created a die-hard Cub fan right before my eyes. I had just passed down one of my passions to my son, a passion that I received from the man sitting on the other side of me, my dad. What a moment!

Heather McAlvey

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