ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Winter Day at the Ballpark

Updated on October 23, 2011
Photoshop
Photoshop | Source

When one thinks of Wrigleyville, one envisions crowded bars, rowdy baseball fans, and the aging shrine that is Wrigley field. From April through October the seasonal stench of stale beer and bratwurst permeates the foyers of old brownstones and newer luxury condominiums. The bars and restaurants open early and close late on game days to accommodate the 40,000-plus welcome patrons to the community's economy.

The souvenir and specialty shops vie for the baseball fans' attentions with come-ons and gimmicks aimed at making their business seem the essential Cubs headquarters for their particular product. This is peak season if they don't make their money now, in the winter they will die. In the winter, the streets are empty. The shops and restaurants cut staff, and hope to survive. The bars bring a little life back on weekends with a big name concert, or nightly special, but try as they may 40,000 people are hard to replace. So what happens to this community from November through March? What are the people like in the shops and residents? What happens when Wrigleyville becomes just another neighborhood?

I thought I would stop in at a few of the local bars and find out what a usual day in the off-season is like. I found that sitting in a bar sipping on iced tea and asking questions was not the right approach. Jimmy, a short stockybartender at the Cubby Bear, was a bit helpful after I backed up the guy sitting next to me with a shot of J.D. “George owns this building ( in reference to George Loukis, the owner of the bar) so he doesn't worry about rent.” It seems the rising property values in the area are reflected in the rents of most of the businesses. “Other places around here come and go, but we've been here so long, and have such an established name, it's really not a problem for us.” He of course was referring to the year round business they enjoy. He picked up the bills on the bar and wiped clean the counter beneath before replacing them, and I took the hint and and left a three dollar tip for the information I received. Bar people don't trust non-drinkers, but I knew that. It was still a cool feeling paying for information. I felt like a private dick, or something like that.

I went down the street to the Salt and Pepper Diner for a bite to eat. I expected the decor of the place to match the name. Black and white tile all around trying to take on that retro look, I was wrong As I sat at the counter the older gentleman sitting next to me started up a conversation. I ordered a burger while Julie, the young waitress, asked “more coffee Ed?” as she poured the old mans cup half full of decaf. Ed was an average sized man with piercing blue eyes, which reflected the wisdom of age. His full head of silver hair gave the impression of a much younger man. “She’s trying to get me drunk,” said Ed, as he reached for the sugar. “I wish she would, the food would probably taste better.” I saw my opportunity and asked him if he'd mind answering a few questions. He was more than accommodating.

He answered many of the questions I had about the area. I found he was resident of forty- plus years, “When I moved here in 1964, it wasn't like this at all.” He had told me earlier he was 31 when he bought a two flat on Newport Ave for $35,000. “I used to go to Chester’s and get the one dollar breakfast special; with meat!” I asked him if the baseball season had any effect on businesses back then. He told me, “back in the sixty's the Bears played here, the winter wasn't as long, and when a game was over people went home. Now days it's like some kind of carnival.” He didn't seem to like what the neighborhood had turned into, but liked it worse when I brought up money. “These damn real estate people don't leave me alone, they tell me I could be a rich man; I'm already a rich man, I got property.” He flashed me a smile and let me know he had a price, but was holding out for better offers. “They think because I'm eighty years old my brain's turned to mush.” He started laughing to himself. “I let them talk to my son, he's a lawyer.” I finished my sandwich and asked Ed if I could buy him another cup of coffee. He refused but thanked me, and I felt compelled to ask just one more question. I said “Ed, what was it that brought you here to begin with, was it the Cubs and Bears being so close?” He laughed, and said “Boy!”smiling at me, “ you should know better than that, it wasn't the Cubs; it was the girls.”

I walked down Addison Ave after that, across the street from the ballpark I came upon a Starbucks. I hate Starbucks! I think Starbuck would hate Starbucks. Was he not the only member of the Pequods' crew with an ounce of common sense? Paying five dollars for a cup of coffee is not of a common sense; one would have to be an idiot to do so! So I paid the man for my Mocha Grande and sat down looking out at that giant dog of which all of these fleas feed off of… Wrigley Field. Even less common sense there, ninety three years of baseball and the only statue they have erected in memoriam is dedicated to an announcer. One would think that honor would be reserved for former players, go figure. OW!!(Sorry, the coffee was too hot). I knew if I waited, I would meet somebody to answer a few more questions for me. Sure enough, I met David. David was a young man I'd say was in his early thirties. He had dark hair; with a bit of a receding hairline towards the spot upon ones forehead one would place their palms in a gesture of worry. He was muscular, but of an oddly defined proportion that put to mind what Kieth Richards of the Rolling Stones might look like had he accidentally injected steroids.“I wish they'dtear that place down already!” he said startling me. I hadn't asked him his wish, I hadn't asked him anything, but I think he mistook my biting my burnt lip for a snarl of disgust as I stared out the window. He went on, “In a couple of weeks: the damn crowds, the noise, the traffic.” I still had yet to ask him a question. “Now they want concerts there!” he exclaimed. He informed me of how he had purchased a condominium here for $500.000; he hates baseball, and doesn't go to bars. All of the sudden five-dollar coffee, and statues for announcers was making sense to me. This neighborhood is full of lunatics. I had to ask him then, why did you move here? He said, (and I kid you not) “the location.”

I've had enough. I got a few questions answered, I met a few people, and best of all I got to see my old friend Wrigley Field. I walked east on Addison to the train and wondered what this area was like ninety-three years ago. It dawned on me, when they built this place it cost around $500.000. Now that’s what it cost for an apartment. I got on the train and took a last look at the old ballpark. It really does make the neighborhood, in more ways than one. Ninety-three years ago this all was residents, a few businesses and dirt. Now it's one of the most recognized neighborhoods in the Country. Ninety-three years ago the Cubs where looking to go to the World Series, they still are. The Cubs haven't won a World Series in ninety nine years, but if they ever do win one, this little part of America will be the happiest place on Earth, except of course, for Dave.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Adelie 

      3 years ago

      And I thought I was the sensible one. Thanks for setting me sthaigrt.

    • HoneyBB profile image

      Helen Laxner 

      5 years ago from Illinois

      I used to work in the bleachers at Wrigleyfield selling lots of brats and beer. It was hard work but I love the ballpark! I'm a lifelong White Sox fan though.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 

      6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Thanks for that slice of Americana, Joe. I have never been a real baseball fan, but have once visited the ball park in Denver for the Colorado Rockies. Did you know that on worldcam.com there is a real time video of the front of Wrigley field. I look at it in winter to remind me of all the snow and ice that I escaped from. Voted up up! Cred2

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 

      6 years ago from Illinois

      I just got a taste of winter weather at the ballpark, but it was Busch Stadium last week for the World Series. I went to a game at Wrigley this year with two real estate brokers and got a taste of a lot of what you are talking about.

    • Poohgranma profile image

      Poohgranma 

      6 years ago from On the edge

      Voted up and all across the board. Love your descriptive writing talent!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)