Sunday, March 28th, 2010

A Very Late Night at Wrigley Field: Part III

Previously at Wrigley Field: Part I and Part II

Everyone at the fire station was generous enough to give us a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility. I'd passed by the station and seen it on WGN-TV broadcasts for years, but I never dreamt that I would get a private tour. Much less a tour around 1 a.m. on a weekday. The firefighters told us to just hang out for a while and we did. Honestly, there wasn't much left to do or see at that point. We found benches outside and simply tried to find the humor in the moment. Even then, I started to realize how absurd the moment was.

After a while, I noticed a woman leaving Wrigley Field from the Waveland Avenue exit. At that hour, she must have been part of the ballpark cleanup crew. I knew her answer would be no, but I decided to take a chance. I walked up to her and told her our story. I asked if there was anyway she could give a quick behind-the-scenes look at the park. Just a few minutes. Nothing comprehensive. Believe it or not, she almost let us in. It's hard to tell, but if it wasn't so late (or early in the morning to be accurate) we might have been able to get inside for a few minutes. I just wanted to say that I was inside Wrigley Field at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday.

I seem to recall that everyone had become extremely tired. I'll admit that I was wiped out, but sure enough, my Dad and Tony's father arrived at the fire station. I can't remember exactly what time it was, but it was easily 2:30 or 2:45 a.m. Our dads thanked the firefighters for letting us hang out at the station.

For some reason, my Dad owned a truck at that time. Just one of those adult male phases that make no sense. I wasn't quite sure how two adults and five high school kids were going to fit in that vehicle. Three of us wedged ourselves into the miniature back seat while the other two volunteered to sit in the back of the truck. For the record, I believe it's illegal in Illinois to drive a truck with passengers in the back. We quickly swung by the corner of Bell and Addison to make sure the car wasn't parked illegally and going to be towed. It was good. At least according to the street signs.

We managed to get on the Kennedy Expressway, merged on the Stevenson and made our way home. At some point, my Dad reminded me that I had to attend the chamber of commerce breakfast at 8 a.m. I had completely forgotten about that. Several graduating seniors, my classmates, were asked to join the chamber members and share our plans for college and professional aspirations. I was enrolled at Elmhurst College, but my only aspirations revolved around getting sleep.

We made the rounds and delivered everyone home safely. The two guys in the back of the truck told us how cold and bumpy the ride home was. They said they felt every single imperfection on the highway. Tony's dad said they would make arrangements to get the car towed home later that day. We had a laugh and called it a day.

When I finally woke up, I started to get ready for the chamber breakfast. I noticed the slightest bruise on my shoulder from my failed attempt to catch Andre Dawson's batting practice home run. By then, the Mets/Cubs game felt as if it was played weeks ago.

A few days later, we learned why the car stalled. We found out that a tiny piece of rubber managed to get wedged in the fuel line. We're not quite sure how that happened, but it led to the one the craziest Cubs experiences I've had. Since that night, I couldn't tell you how many Cubs games I've been to. But oddly enough, I've only been to a game with one of those guys once after that night. That was a game in 2007.

Great story--it could be a movie! Really enjoyed reading it.
LGrant   Sunday, March 28, 2010
Glad you enjoyed it. I really didn't intend for it to stretch into three parts, the text kept flowing. I am working on some other old baseball tales, too.
Bill Pearch   Sunday, March 28, 2010
Great story, Bill. Thanks for posting it. I like the way you did it in three parts. It helps keep up the interest till you post the next part. I think posting all three at once would have resulted in a long blog - which discourages some from reading.
stheinz   Sunday, March 28, 2010
Thanks, stheinz. I agree with you. When I started writing, it started to feel too long to post. I started making edits for length and it just didn't read the same. I hope to post more soon.
Bill Pearch   Sunday, March 28, 2010
Fun story-brings back memories of things we did as "kids,"
dannie   Sunday, March 28, 2010
Dannie, that's great to hear. Glad that blog brought back good memories.
Bill Pearch   Sunday, March 28, 2010
As one of the two in the back of the truck (I think the other was Bryan), I can confirm that the part about it being a cold and bumpy ride home is correct. I always marvel at Bill's total recall about things from back then. I remember going to the game and having a blast. I remember the thing with Neal's "incarceration". I remember the chug-chug-chug-stall. And I remember the fire station. Oh, and that ride home. That's about it.

Anyways, I'm glad you told that one, Bill. And you told it well.
Mark Almighty   Saturday, April 3, 2010
Mark, you're right. It was Bryan and you in the back. When I started thinking about that story, I knew I had to break it up into three parts.
Bill Pearch   Saturday, April 3, 2010
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