First Stop, A Very Familiar PlaceTuesday, August 29, 2000: San Diego Padres vs. Chicago Cubs
Starting Pitchers: Adam Eaton vs. Jaime Arnold
Time of Game: 4 hours 48 minutes
Final Score: Cubs 7, Padres 6 (13 innings)
When I embarked upon my journey to see all the Major League Baseball parks, I had attended games at Wrigley Field, old Comiskey Park, new Comiskey Park (which would eventually be renamed US Cellular Field) and old Busch Stadium in St. Louis. With the addition of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998, that brought the number of teams to 30. So, I had only seen three teams play in their home park - my Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. Over the next nine days, I would attend eight games with a stop at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Out of these eight games, I would be able to cross six parks off my list. The trip would begin and end in Chicago.
The bus ride started in La Crosse, Wisconsin and made its first stop in Milwaukee. I joined the group when the bus made its way to the Exel Inn of O'Hare in Elk Grove Village. Many of the participants flew into O'Hare to begin their journey, too. I hopped on board and we were on our way to a place I knew all too well - Wrigley Field.
When we arrived at Wrigley Field, we found our seats and everyone in the group started introducing themselves. It dawned on me that I was the youngest person in the group. Since schools were back in session, the family trips were finished. I also realized I was the only person from the Chicagoland area. We had a couple from San Francisco, a group of 12 guys from Seattle, two Canadians, and a random assortment of others.
Since I was the lone Cubs fan in the group, I became the Wrigley Field historian and tour guide for the night. Honestly, I was glad it happened that way. It was nice being the local expert on the first day of the trip. I pointed out all the quirks about the ballpark and talked about the history of the team. They asked so many questions and it was great answering them all. They had questions about the manual scoreboard, the ivy, the neighborhood, and more.
On our way to the park, Jay Buckley made it clear that we were on our own at the game. If we wanted to roam around the parks, we were encouraged to do so. He also made it clear that the baseball games were the most important part of each stop along the way. If we had a day game, we had free time at night. If we had a night game, we would have some time during the day. But two things happened at the Cubs game that we did not clarify - extra innings and meeting back at the bus after a game.
The Cubs won the game, but it did require extra innings. After the game ended, everyone made their way back to the bus parked on Sheffield, except for our two friends from north of the border. According to Jay, we would never drive during the night. Since our next stop was Pittsburgh, and we had extra innings, and had to spend time finding our wandering Canadians, we did have to drive a bit at night. Our hotel that evening was the Hampton Inn in Mishawaka, Indiana. We would have a quick turnaround in the morning. Since we were heading east, we had a long bus ride ahead of us.
Next stop: Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium (Giants vs. Pirates)