Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field’s opening and the team’s current state caused me to get a bit party-pooperish over on Big League Stew. The birthday, however, caused me to think of the hundreds of days I’ve spent in the Friendly Confines and which were the most memorable.
Here are the top 10 games I attended that immediately came to mind:
1. Cubs vs. Marlins - 2003 NLCS Game 6 - Oct. 14, 2003
I was covering the game for the Kansas City Star and had a “Cubs reach World Series for first time since 1945” story ready to go. Then Steve Bartman happened. Arguably the most famous sporting event I’ll ever attend unless the Cubs somehow win a World Series one day.
2. Cubs vs. Cardinals - August 19, 1998
It’s no longer kosher to say you had fun during the Great Home Run Race of 1998, but this midday duel between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire still sticks in my mind. Sosa caught Mac early with his 48th homer of the season but McGwire would hit two homers later in the day for an 8-6 Cardinal win. Also memorable: I showed up to the game with a new fake ID, only to never be asked for it when buying beer.
3. Cubs vs. Astros - August 23, 1998
Bought a last-minute ticket on the street for $10 and found it was literally in the last section in the left field grandstand. It actually proved to be a good seat as it gave me a good vantage point to see Sammy Sosa’s 50th and 51st homers land on Waveland Avenue as well as the Blue Angels buzzing the ballpark on their way to the Air & Water Show on the lakefront. (Steve Trachsel would try to delay the game because of the distraction.) Because the Astros won in a rout, winning pitcher Jose Lima would later face questions on whether he had grooved two pitches for his good friend and countryman Sammy Sosa.
4. Cubs vs. Expos - August 1, 1999
Mark Grace notches career hit 2000 in the ninth inning. I see the Expos in person for the last time.
5. 1990 All-Star Workout Day - July 9, 1990
Attending something like this at 11 years of age pretty much blew my mind. The only downside: A HR derby field featuring Jose Canseco, Cecil Fielder and Darryl Strawberry combined for only EIGHT home runs. Ryne Sandberg won the thing with three.
6. Cubs vs. Giants - July 19, 2007
This day spawned two of my most favorite articles I’ve ever written. I spent the first four innings inside the big green scoreboard writing on how the operators follow a pennant race. I spent the rest of the day on Barry Bonds watch and the circus that erupted when he hit career homer 752 and 753 during the game.
7. Cubs vs. Dodgers - April 18, 1998
First home start by 21-year-old Kerry Wood. Strikes out 7 over 5 for his first career win. Throws his 20K game a few weeks later.
8. Cubs vs. Mets - August 5, 2007
Tom Glavine’s 300th win. I strangely still have a copy of Vine Line with his autograph on it somewhere …
9. Cubs vs. Mets - April 5, 1994
I tried for opening day tickets but was shut out and missed Tuffy Rhodes hitting three homers. My consolation prize: Freezing my ass off during the second game of the season. The only thing I really remember is heckling Joe Orsulak all day.
10. Cubs vs. Marlins - August 22, 1995
First night game at Wrigley Field I ever attended. Felt weird then. Still feels a bit weird now.