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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tickets in the Nose-Bleed Section – Part 2


Before leaving this morning we consumed our third ½ price breakfast buffet and checked out Joe’s company website for lodging in Chicago. Thinking we had a good handle on the situation we hit the road again.

We didn’t push ourselves the next morning getting a late start on our next leg to Chicago. Just a small fraction of Missouri left, all of Iowa and a scoot across the top of Illinois was the plan. If you don’t know much about Iowa, all there is to the entire state is one corn field after another separated by very non-distinct small towns and extremely nondescript cities. Man, it’s just Corn – Corn – and Corn! Check out this link to get a clear picture of what I’m talking about:

Once inside the Illinois line—their welcome center was closed due to budget cutbacks—we plugged the hotel destination into Lady and drove straight to it. What a deal?

Asking at registration on a recommendation for a good place to eat, they handed us a small 10 page pamphlet listing 43 establishments in 12 categories: Breakfast, American, Chinese, German, Irish-American, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Pizza, Stake houses and Seafood. We soon discovered that nothing was to come easy in Chicago—well almost nothin’. Taking the safe route, we chose from the American category a place called Jimmy’s Grill, plugged it into Lady and headed out to Naperville some 4.3 miles away. Being the start of the weekend, the small neighborhood streets were crowded with revelers out for a night on the town and let me tell you, they were celebrating. Finally at Jimmy’s and selecting to sit inside, we were seated immediately. We all went for sandwiches and were pleasingly surprised with the outcome.


Up early, we chose Granny’s Restaurant off the breakfast list and again were well satisfied so much so that we ate there every morning in Chicago. Full, we started for downtown with the weather threatening Lady sent us on an avoid route to bypass a traffic problem. This worked out very well. Did I mention to always trust Lady? Having decided on visiting the Field Museum of Natural History first this morning: in no time at all, we were there and parking; another $12 parking fine. This turned out to be a great choice. Their dinosaur collection is fantastic. We walked our a**es off in there—so much to see on the $87 entrance fine.

Dilin, Joseph and Sue (named for the lady that found her) at the Field Museum.

Upon exiting the museum, we headed straight for the street vendor for a Chicago style hotdog. You realize that you can never get too many hotdogs into your system? We had spotted this guy prior to going inside and again, it was just the right choice—the dog had a large pickle quarter inside, lots of mustard and relish, and some hot peppers but not more than it would take to put one under. Go-o-o-o-d!

Back into the truck we plugged the Comisky Park (US Cellular Field) into Lady and were on our way. Straight to the park with no problems, we parked after paying the $23 parking fine and had a walk of no more than a hundred yards to our gate. The third ballgame in four days—ain’t it great?

Once inside the park, we took our time purchasing our game hat and decided to wait a while before getting our ballgame hotdogs. I got a good Sox hat, applied it to my head and headed to my seat. Wearing my bright red Texas Ranger shirt and my navy blue Sox hat, I received more than a few stares—one guy even stopped me and ask what was up. I simply told him that “I was conflicted.” He just stared at me as I walked away.

New Comisky Park (or U S Cellular Field if you like).

One odd quirk that I noticed about Chicagoans at both that night’s game and the next night also: they don’t seem to pay any attention whatsoever to the seat number on their ticket—as long as they are close, everything is OK. It’s OK up until the ticketed seat holder shows up and wants his seat—this guy must be an outtatowner— because even then the original sitter still doesn’t necessarily go to his//her assigned seat; they just take the next seats that suits their fancy. Consequently there seemed to be constant movement—just maybe some of them never sat in their ticked seat the entire evening.

Now we've seen it; the Rangers playing an away game.

As far as the game went; the Rangers seemed to have taken the night off. There were lots of subs in the lineup and very, very few hits. I guess they didn’t get the word that we had taken all this time outta our busy schedule and the great expense we had incurred just to see them on the road—it was like they really didn’t care that we were there at all. The Rangers lost to the Sox by a score of 3 to 2; both teams having 8 hits and Chicago with one error. Brent Lillibridge scored from 1st on a double to the left field corner by Alex Rios in the bottom of the 8th. The Rangers’ Ian Kinsler did have 2 homeruns in the game providing the only runs scored by the Rangers all night including the leadoff homer of the game—it all looked good at that point. Even through the 3rd (2nd HR in consecutive at bats) it just seemed if they could get Kinsler up to bat enough times, they had a chance, but it wasn’t to be. There was just a hair over 30,00 at the ballpark that night; up a good 8 - 10K from KC.

Howard & Joseph - see the new stadium bought ball caps?

Howard & Dilin - new stadium bought caps all around.


A big day ahead of us, up early and on the road we headed east and north just to see what we could see. Oh, there was method in our madness; we had plotted the day as far as we could take it. Very soon we had left Illinois and were pulling into the state welcome center for Indiana. You couldn’t have touched me with a ten foot pole. I had just finished a journey I had started some 63+ years ago. With setting my feet of Indiana turf I had now lived in or visited all 50 states. Man, I was elated and I told the guy behind the counter as I took my free state map just how delighted I was to see him today. He laughed and got right into the spirit of the day.

Finally, I had lived in or visited all 50 states!

From the state line we drove north into Michigan on our way to Benton Harbor where we planned to get a bite before turning south again down the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

Well, let me tell you this: there is nothin’ in Benton Harbor, Michigan I need to go back and see or get. The place is a shambles—rickety buildings, most boarded up and empty and all in a rundown state of repair. I’m not going back there.

Just south of Benton Harbor lies the great little town of St Joseph, Michigan. It was like coming outta the dark into the daylight from one to the other. Everything that Benton Harbor didn’t have St Joseph did. We parked downtown (free, no fine) and walked down the hill beside the water park across the street from their indoor carousel to the beach—a real nice beach (Silver Beach) operated by the county. We just sat there on the beach in the breeze and took in the day, temp @ 72ºF versus the Texas temp that day of 108ºF. After the beach, we walked back up the hill and had a bite at the Schu’s Grill & Bar—I had the salmon BLT and it was delicious with big chunks of salmon on it especially when washed down with Schu’s lager.

Lake Michigan's Silver Beach in St Joseph, MI.

On our way back to Chicago, Joe researched the parking for the night’s game—there is no parking at Wrigley Field; it’s in a neighborhood surrounded by homes and apartments. He discovered that we could park at De Vry University and take a shuttle to the ballpark for only a $6 parking fine and it covered both the trip to and back—what a deal? We loaded the destination into Lady and were on our way.

Lady discovered some obstructions along the route crossing the south side of Chicago but this time we ignored her and stayed on the original course—it ain’t a good thing to cross Lady. I think she made us pay for it. I would bet there was upward of 100,000 people caught up in that traffic jam. Finally we arrived at De Vry, paid our fine, got our chits and loaded the shuttle.

Some thirty minutes later the shuttle dropped us right beside the Ernie Banks statue just outside the main gate to the ballpark. We were there, but still had little idea as to what we were in for.

Dilin & Joseph in front of the Ernie Banks statue - "Let's play two!"

Wrigley Field - 1914 - ????

Wrigley Field, built in 1914 (Fenway in Boston was built in 1912) is quiet a sight; a real experience. We milled around with the crowd outside just taking in the sights and sounds of Wrigleyville then bought our hats and found our seats. We supposedly had unobstructed seats; that’s unobstructed unless you wanted to see the area in vicinity of 2nd base—we couldn’t. On top of that, there were people constantly moving to get drinks and eats. Of course there was the always occurring, seat changing problem I previously mentioned. Like the Southside, the Northside inhabitants do the same. The ticketed seat holders at Wrigley got just a bit riled at the encroachers—read here, some hollering and shouting matches took place.

The welcome confines of Wrigley Field!

The guys retrieved me a couple of dogs and a tall Coke—my habit is to never leave my seat after I take it except to participate in the 7th inning stretch. We hadn’t taken time on our way up to do anything but look.

Our unobstructed view, unless you just wanted to see what was happening at 2nd!

Rooftop seating on the apartments and homes across the street from Wrigley Field.

Our seats were the fourth through the sixth seats in on our row in the 4th deck just two rows from the top. I casually mentioned to those sitting to our left as they crossed in front of me that that trip should be their last. Everybody complied with my wishes. Those immediately to our left never left their seats. Those just past them climbed over the back of their seats and crossed in front of the guys sitting in the row behind of us; some even climbing over 2 rows of seats to find their way out. Those just further down crossed in front of the people sitting further to our left and took the long way out to get grub. Sometimes ya just gotta take a stand.

Howard & Joseph (new Stadium bought ball caps) sitting 2 rows this side of Heaven.

The Red Birds hit back-to-back homers in the second inning (Jay & Molina) to go on top. The Cubs scored a run in the 3rd; then the Cards got another run in the 5th, a solo shot from Albert Pujlos; you could see the intensity he had from where we were sitting, even in the 4th deck. The Cubs put up another run in the 5th but still trailed 3 to 2. Then the Cards' catcher, Molina hit his 2nd homer of the night, a two run shot moving the Cards up 5 to 2. They added one more run in that inning and that ended the evening’s scoring. Pitchin’ did the rest with the final score being 6 to 2 and the Cards out hitting the Cubs 14 to 7. Forty-five minutes after reloading the shuttle, we were on our way to the hotel.

Caught the ball of the bat of the Card's David Freese (3rd base) - But just wait!

Cardinals' Jon Jay scoring on his solo Home Run in the 2nd.

Yadier Molina (Cards' catcher) coming around 3rd on his back-to-back Home Run following Jay.

Ball coming off the bat of Albert Pujlos' Home Run in the 5th inning.

Before I forget, the attendance at Wrigley was 39,420 out of a capacity of 41,160. I don’t think the capacity includes the rooftop seating across the street from the ballpark. Good crowd!

The games in KC were completely reminders of AAA games and the game in Comisky was closer to big league but still had the little park feeling. Wrigley was all Big League; an experience I will never forget—ya have to be there to feel it.

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