Anderson: Wrigley: How Baseball Should Be

We live in a world of polar opposites. Old and new, big and small, black and white, and everything in between. On the one hand, traffic roars past in a colorful blur before a backdrop of blinking neon billboards and passersby scurry here and there — always with a deadline to meet, a plane to catch, a deal to close. On the other hand, life occasionally breaks this frantic pace and slows down, catches a breath, relaxes. There are very few places I have been where time stands still and, for a few merciful hours, I can escape the pace of modern life. Wrigley Field is just such a place.

Being the diehard, bleed-blue, raised-on-Dodger-Dogs, Dodgers fan that I am, for two weeks this summer I took a road trip through the Midwest with my brother and our parents, following my beloved trolleydodgers from Milwaukee to Saint Louis. In between, I stopped in Chicago for a Cubs-Cardinals game. Yes, the game was fun, and yes the Cubs won (in dramatic walk-off fashion), but Wrigley Field represents much more than baseball — watching a game in that ballpark is like travelling back in time. The park is euphoric; it is timeless; a vestige of a more tranquil era long since forgotten.

I cannot pinpoint one particular reason that Wrigley holds sway. After all, Fenway is just as old, is it not? But I have been to Fenway, and it’s just not the same. Perhaps it is Wrigley’s architecture — its symmetry, its steel-and-concrete framework, or the way it nestles into the hustle and bustle of Clark and Addison. Perhaps it is the famed ivy wall. Perhaps it is the low rumble of the L as it trundles past the park. Perhaps it is the original scoreboard, manually operated and beautifully simple. Perhaps it is the park’s intimacy — the closest seats to the action in all of baseball. Then again, maybe it’s the aroma of hot dogs and peanuts drifting through the air. Perhaps it is all of this, and more.

Yes, that must be it — these are all, collectively, part of what makes Wrigley great. Certainly it is not the baseball itself. After all, the baseball played at Wrigley is the same baseball played in New York, Boston, L.A., and around the world. Rather, Wrigley is great because it transports its visitors back in time to a generation when life was simpler and baseball was not a multi-billion dollar industry.

I have never enjoyed a baseball game as much as I enjoyed that afternoon in Chicago. I have been to countless ballgames, and not one made me appreciate baseball like Wrigley did. Wrigley is modern baseball’s antithesis, a lone vestige of an era past, a reminder of how baseball was and should be.

If you’re a sports fan, go to Wrigley. If you enjoy learning about the past, go to Wrigley. If you have never even heard of the Cubs, go to Wrigley. Whatever you do, go to a game at Wrigley at some point in your life. Baseball has played a formative role in shaping American society, and Wrigley defines all that baseball once was. In one beautifully simple and timeless place, the past comes alive. When you go to a game at Wrigley, I hope you can appreciate it as much as I did.

Rhett Anderson is a senior in Ezra Stiles College.

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