A League of Her Own

Wee Windy City: Wrigleyville Edition

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Many of us have tried, with varying levels of success, to enjoy a Cubs game with the littles in tow.

If, like me, you've missed 5 or so innings of a great game in the thick of a division race because your children can't stop a) asking for food, b) asking for giant foam claws, and c) asking you to take them to the bathroom, have I got a treat for you.

Caitlin Giles, of the fabulous CN blog Wee Windy City has some great tips on a fun day at the ballpark for all.

Take it away Caitlin:

Taking wee ones to Wrigley


Thinking about bringing your little Cubs fans to a game at Wrigley? Great idea! A trip to the ballpark with your kids can be a fun family outing. Or (and I am just being honest here) it can be a really expensive, exhausting ordeal. To avoid any major meltdowns (yours or theirs), keep these tips in mind when planning your excursion.

Plan, plan, plan. As with all outings with little ones, you have to make a good plan before you head out. Watch a game on television and talk about the team, players, Wrigley Field, etc. so your child knows what to expect. Practice singing "Take me out to the ball game" so you are ready for the seventh inning stretch. Think about the logistics of your trip. How are you going to get there? Keep in mind that lots of walking usually leads to lots of whining (plus you don't want to totally wear them out before the game even starts).

Pack lightly. Even though you usually travel with a gigantic bag full of kid's supplies and amusements, you don't want to lug that bag into the ball park. Try to keep your stuff to a minimum (otherwise you will spend an eternity in the bag check line and your bag will end up with peanut shells and spilled soda all over it).


Mix things up. A trip to see the Cubbies play at Wrigley isn't just about watching baseball. Your little fan isn't going to be totally captivated by the action for all nine innings. When you sense that your kid is losing interest, break things up with some distractions. This is where the ball park food comes in. Get a soft pretzel or an ice cream bar. Maybe stroll around the stadium to check out what the scoreboard looks like from the seats in right field. Walk through the stadium and see who can spot more people wearing Zambrano jerseys. Bottom line: don't expect to spend the whole game glued to your seats. 


Take advantage of family-friendly features. Wrigley Field does have some specific amenities for families. If you want your visit to be beer-free, purchase tickets in the family section. And for those dads who need to take their little girls to the potty, use the family bathroom in the First Aid Station.

Have realistic expectations. Your two-year-old probably isn't going to want to stay at the game for all nine innings and that is okay. Go with a relaxed attitude and enjoy the experience (even if that means catching only half the game and making five trips to the bathroom). 


What other tips do you experienced fans have for surviving a trip to Wrigley with kiddos?

Caitlin Giles is a freelance writer and mother of three little Cubs fans. She authors the Chicago Now blog Wee Windy City about family-friendly activities in and around town. She will be putting all of these tips to use next week when she and her husband bring their three children to see the Cubbies take on the White Sox.

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65 Comments

flyball said:

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for my nephews first game a few years ago we thought sitting in the 200 level was a great idea since it was out of the sun, but the speakers were really loud and he did not like it, we moved away from the speakers and he loved the rest of the game

also twice we've gone as a whole family (Chiefs game at Wrigley = affordable for everyone), the shear number of adults helps

Doc said:

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Saffron's first game went relatively well...Jeanna did a great job preparing for the game. We have a good system now.

Of course, now that Saffron has just started walking, things might get a little more complicated.

As she gets older, we'll see how it actually goes.

JulieDiCaro said:

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My kids have been going since they were newborns, and I have to say, the 2-6 year window is the worst. My 8-year old will actually watch the game now, but my 7-year old is still working on it.

Max Power said:

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I guess I was right -- my wife simultaneously confirmed my impressions.

Max Power said:

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Excellent tips. Planning really is the key -- absence of planning leads you to buy stuff out of desperation, which causes an equal amount of trips to the ATM as to the bathroom. Having them pick a favorite player works -- sometimes all too well, as I had to explain why Daddy didn't agree that Mark Prior is the greatest pitcher ever.

The great thing is that once the kids get older (6 seems to be the magic age, at least as far as my experience), they start to "get" it and you can actually see most of the game.

JulieDiCaro said:

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i would add that planning for cold weather is key, especially at night games in April and May. otherwise, you wind up buying incredibly over-priced sweatshirts and blankets.

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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And spilling drinks on said blanket.

JulieDiCaro said:

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that's what I worry about when I go to games with YOU.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Hilarious new post over at the blog Cubs 101 . . . And Counting.

The Aaron Miles portion made me cover my screen in tea.

AndCounting said:

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You're the best (around). No one's gonna ever get you down.

JulieDiCaro said:

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you can't see me, but i'm currently doing crane pose up on a wooden post over the ocean.

gravedigger said:

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I know a lot of you have kids and are going to hate me (more than you already do) for this, but maybe there needs to be a "nobody under 18" rule at Wrigley.

gravedigger said:

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Yay, your kids get to have fun. Great. At my expense.

flyball said:

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false, when I was 12 and 13 I probably saw 30 games each season at Wrigley, in the upper deck with one of my parents, its when I learned to keep score, and how I learned public transportation and to be act in the city

also you gotta get the kids early before they start liking the NBA or something

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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I think it's the 2-5 year olds that are most bothersome.

gravedigger said:

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This is what I was thinking too.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I think it's the TWENTY-FIVE YEAR OLDS that are most bothersome.

gravedigger said:

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Actually true, but this is part of why I just don't bother going to games. Even when they come here to Washington, I watch the games on MASN unless my family insists on going.

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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I wouldn't go that far, but maybe a forced family section?

gravedigger said:

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Sure, I'm OK with a forced family section outside the ballpark. Like in your own goddamn living room.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Like a Japanese internment camp.

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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Exactly! It's what's best for them.

JulieDiCaro said:

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And America.

Brian Moore said:

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Why the kid hate? I don't understand that? Like Julie jokingly said, the 25 year olds in the bleachers, the drunks and the rich a-holes in the CBOE seats who don't care what's happening are the worst you could imagine.

Baseball is a family sport more than any other. America's pasttime. Boys grow up playing catch with their dads.

I'm taking my boy, who is going to be 7 in a month, to the Sept. 12 game vs. the Mets. Hope I don't ruin the experience for ya by the off chance that you see me on TV behind the visitors dugout.

gravedigger said:

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It probably will but don't sweat it.

Brian Moore said:

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Damn, in that case, I wish I had season tickets.

JulieDiCaro said:

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you just have to ignore him. "super-grouch" is his internet persona. he's much nice in person.

Jimmy Greenfield said:

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Or you do what I do and take them to U.S. Cellular Field. The kids get to run around since there's plenty of room, I get to watch baseball without caring about the outcome, and I always get a seat home on the Red Line/Green Line.

gravedigger said:

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You don't worry about bad things happening to them?

JulieDiCaro said:

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Yeah, if there's one place I'm NOT taking me kids, it's to 35th and Wentworth.

flyball said:

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really? I definitely went there (well the old one) as a kid

JulieDiCaro said:

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i was joking.

kinda.

flyball said:

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best part about being so close to Chicago is all the different parts of the city

Karen said:

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I grew up on the north shore, and my family went to at least 2 or 3 Sox games a year from as long as I can remember. Always went to the Hickory Pit for dinner. My dad caught a foul ball and made it seem like it was a golden treasure. We kept score and learned about the game. I don't remember being antsy ever, but I'm sure we were all a pain in the ass at some time. My parents plus us three kids, each have some piece of the old Comiskey in our homes.

Jimmy Greenfield said:

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Loved the Hickory Pit.

gravedigger said:

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My tip is to take them to visit Al Yellon, a Wrigley Field icon, in the left field bleachers.

JulieDiCaro said:

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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

There goes the rest of my drink. . . .

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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Aren't there some teams doing take your dog to the park days now? Through the eyes of a cat person, that would be really horrible.

flyball said:

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thought of something else, very early we created a whole tradition with the ballpark, taking the train, getting peanuts outside, drinks and sometimes a snack from 7-11, the scorecard walking in (when we got a bit older), the whole ritual before the first pitch became what we did

looking back I think this save my parents lots of money, I got trained to not ask for lots of stuff inside the park, and I've heard kids like routine, and even this special treat had a routine that we knew and were comfortable with

millertime said:

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Also, parents, school is starting again. Time to learn about bullying and what you can do to prevent it.

http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index.jhtml?videoId=247825&title=advice-on-bullying

berselius said:

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You got it all wring, MT. You need to hire bullies to toughen up your kid

(btw, hilarious site all around)

millertime said:

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How do you do the link with the different text thing?

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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Just type a href="link here" inside of "" then type the text you want it to say then do "". But don't put the quotes around the pacmen.

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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I was hoping that would work, but it didn't. Here's a link to a tutorial that should help you figure it out.

gravedigger said:

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502 error on Gmail for anyone else?

Ed Nickow said:

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Yep ... there's a not-too-helpful notice up on the Gmail support page:

http://mail.google.com/support/

JulieDiCaro said:

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everyone.

and now Twitter is over capacity because everyone ran over there to tweet about gmail being down.

internet fail.

Ed Nickow said:

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My kids are older now (we're leaving to take the youngest to college tomorrow) but I think that some of our game day rituals still work for families with young kids. These tips won't necessarily help with the boredom factor, but they'll help make the day memorable. I'll split this up into three comments - getting there, being there, leaving there.

GETTING THERE

Take the Red Line
That's how I got to the games when I was a teenager and it's an important part of our experience. It's still exciting when the train makes that last turn after Sheridan ... and when the scoreboard comes into view, it's just beautiful. The walk from the train to the ballpark is short - 1 block, closer than most parking lots. Remember - one fare card can be used for up to 7 people.

Stop by the 7-Eleven
What other ballpark has a 7-Eleven across the street? Everyone gets a soft drink or bottle of water - less than 1/2 the price of what you'll spend in the ballpark. Maybe a bag of snacks, too. Just remember not to open the bottles until you're inside the park. This won't eliminate your concession purchases, because you and the kids will want a hot dog or pizza and ice cream. Yes, you'll have to wait in the hated "bag line", but you'll save several dollars per person.

Visit Ernie and Harry
Walk by the statues (Harry @ Addison & Sheffield, Ernie @ Clark & Addison) and maybe take some pictures. Here's your chance to teach the kids some Cubbie history.

Peek through the hole in the wall
It's on Sheffield, just north of Addison, and will just take a minute. Basically, it's a garage door sized fenced over opening in the wall, providing a unique field-level view of right field.

Now, you're ready to enter the Friendly Confines ...

Caitlin Giles said:

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These are really good suggestions. Just added "stop at the 7-11" to my to do list for the game on Thursday.

flyball said:

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7-11 is the best, and in case you were wondering you can bring the fountain drinks in the plastic cups in

a Super Big Gulp is my friend for games

JulieDiCaro said:

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so there's a twitter meme about why gmail is down. my contribution:

Gmail is down because Ted Lilly wants it that way.

AndCounting said:

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Thus endeth the discussion.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I thought it was sufficiently explanatory.

AndCounting said:

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For my almost six-year-old, the El is the highlight. His name is Addison, so it goes without saying (although I refuse to let it) that he loves getting off the train at Addison.

He also thinks peeing into a trough is the coolest thing ever invented. This makes minimizing the bathroom trips next to impossible.

The best technique I've found for keeping the kid in his seat is pointing to things outside of the stadium like the lake, the El, and the people watching on the rooftops. Explaining baseball strategy also works, as does making reference to Albert Pujols. Just say the name and he laughs for five minutes.

Caitlin Giles said:

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On our last visit to the park, my son was apparently also quite intrigued by the troughs in the bathroom. That and he also drank his first Pepsi (and quickly fell in love with soda). Good times.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Another tip:

Until the kids are older, kiss BP goodbye. Asking a kid to sit in Wrigley for 5 hours is asking a lot.

AndCounting said:

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Also, day games are much more kid-friendly than night games . . . kind of like the Peach Pit and the opposite of Rich Harden.

millertime said:

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Also, many communities have local baseball teams to follow. In Eau Claire it was the Eau Claire Cavaliers. That was one of my first baseball experiences, and it helped me get ready for going to the big time of the Cubs game later on. Local games have less hassle and it might give you and your kids a preview of how a big league game will go. If you call your kids up too soon from the minors they may develope Felix Pie syndrome.

I have no kids, but I do have a plant which I water sometimes. With the helpful advice in this thread I feel I can now take it to a Cubs game.

secdelahc said:

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I agree with whoever said you need to have the kid watch baseball. There are games that I've been to where I've had a lot of fun with the little five year old who is really excited to see DLee, because his or her parents have been cultivating the love of the game.

However, my rule of thumb is that if the kids don't like baseball at home, don't force it on them at the ballpark. It will be a horrible experience for the parents and everyone around them.

Oh, and have the kids make fun little signs. It's a good way to get them excited about going.

Caitlin Giles said:

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I like this idea about making signs. Good way to help them participate in the experience. Maybe bad for all of the people sitting behind them - but whatever.

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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Signs at games are a great tradition. Just make sure they're not holding them up during game play.

IC4003e6 said:

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--A few additional suggestions from the friendly ushers at Wrigley Field --

The Upper Deck also has a "family bathroom"; it is labeled as a handicapped bathroom and an usher will have the key to unlock it.

Put a ticket in their pocket in case they get lost.

Ask the ushers for a free activity booklet and crayons.

Make a sign at the Office Max booth in the lower concourse.

Always bring more warm clothes than you think you will need; it can be very breezy in some parts of the ball park.

If you come during batting practice, walk down close to the field.

You can bring your own food into Wrigley, so pack your favorite snacks and drinks in unopened plastic bottles.


Caitlin Giles said:

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These are great additions -- particularly love the one about putting a ticket in their pocket in case they get lost. Great idea.

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