I love Chase Field. I was there when it opened and through 2009 I have seen nearly every game ever played there. I know that stadium like the back of my hand. I have walked nearly every inch of that stadium and taken in every detail of its architecture. It has become my second home. According to my family, I spend more time at Chase Field each year than I do at our own residence. Personally I think that is a bit of an exaggeration but probably not by much.
Chase Field was not the first stadium I have ever been to; that distinction goes to Wrigley Field. As much as I hate to admit it, I was once a Cubs fan. That is not to say that I am ashamed to have been a Cubs fan, quite the contrary I was very proud to count myself among the loyal followers of the Chicago Cubs.
Growing up in rural Idaho I somehow gravitated to the Chicago Cubs. Perhaps it was the personalities of those Cubs teams. From Ernie Banks to Ferguson Jenkins I cheered for each of them and watched them every chance I could.
Each spring I would be glued to the television as the Cubs took to the field for the home opener at Wrigley Field. The ivy would still be dormant and the winds would swirl around the friendly confines but it was baseball and Wrigley Field was a cathedral.
After we were married, my wife Trina talked me into taking a trip to see her sister who lived in Indiana. A quick calculation and I realized that we were but a short distance from Chicago and I would at last be able to see a game in person.
It was a beautiful summer day with a slight breeze when the game started. I had tickets in the upper deck on the first base side and as the game went on the wind picked up. By the seventh inning it felt as though a hurricane was blowing and the air had a distinct bite to it. Trina and I sat there freezing to death. We bought a Cubs beach towel to wrap up in and prayed we would not freeze to death.
Regardless of how miserable it was, it was the best day of my life. I was there and watched as Harry Carey led the crowd in the singing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame. I ate a hot dog that had to have been roasting since Opening Day but it was the best tasting dog I had ever had. I watched the Bleacher Bums throw back an opposing team’s home run and I became engulfed in Cubs-mania that is rampant on the north side of Chicago.
That game solidified my love of baseball and especially the game day experience that can only be had by attending the game in person. I had no way of knowing that in my first visit to a Major League Baseball stadium that I had visited the pinnacle of locations.
Since that day I have attended games in several cities. In each case I have enjoyed my game experience but I continually find myself comparing the location to Wrigley Field and the ambiance that you feel when watching a game there. In nearly every case I come away with the realization that Wrigley is something special that can be imitated but can never be topped.
Today I watched as the Diamondbacks played the Chicago Cubs in this most holy of baseball sites. I watched as the Cubs bested the Diamondbacks by a score of 5-0. The score and the loss didn’t seem to matter today. I was content seeing the sights and hearing the sounds that you can only experience in a game at Wrigley Field.
Tomorrow the 2009 season will end and for the Diamondbacks they will take the field one last time. I know it will be a depressing event as it will mean there will be no more Diamondbacks baseball until next February but I will at least be content in knowing that I will be able to watch that game being played at Wrigley Field, and that will be special enough to keep me warm this winter.