A child’s first Major League baseball game is always something to treasure. A child has many firsts in their life. And for a parent, it is extra special to be there to witness those events. Your child’s first steps, their first words, the first time they ride a bike on two wheels – all fantastic firsts for the child and the parent. But their first ball game is always something they will remember for the rest of their life.
Now let me tell you, my son is a diehard Cubs fan. For most of his twelve years on this earth, he has followed the Cubs with a passion. His bedroom is painted Cubby blue with one wall painted in the Cubs logo red. As often as he can, he’s listens or watches the games. His heart rises and falls with every run, every error and every out.
On a cool but absolutely beautiful August day, my son’s dream of seeing his Cubs play a game in the historic Wrigley field was realized – and all thanks to the kindness of a stranger.
This day started about a month ago with a conversation about the Cubs with a young lady named Courtney. After I shared how much of a Cubs fan my son was, Courtney asked if he had ever been to a game. I stated that going to a game had never been able to be fitted into the budget but my son understood that.
Nothing more was said on the subject at the point.
About an hour later, I ran into Courtney again at a local fast food restaurant. As I was finishing up my burger, Courtney approached and explained that she had talked to her fiancée and they agreed that every kid deserved the opportunity too see a Major League ball game especially since he was such a fan of the Cubs. She then handed me a check to cover the cost of tickets, food and maybe even a souvenir. I was speechless! I tried to decline but she insisted. I tried my best not to break down crying as I hugged her and said thank you for such a generous gift.
My son too teared up when I showed him the check the next day. From that point on, his excitement grew in anticipation of his first Cubs game.
Fast forward to August 14th. Excitement bubbling over in both of us! As we jumped on the Redline L-train, another first for him, his giddy smile never left his face. His eyes grew big as Wrigley field came into view in the train car’s window. The faint smell of hot dogs and beer tickled our noses as we stepped onto the platform. Just a few more steps and we would be there.
We arrived just minutes before the park opened. His only words were “This is so cool” and “I can’t believe we’re here”. You could light up half of Chicago with the energy coming off this kid.
As the gates opened and we made our way to find the section with our seats, even my excitement grew. It had been 30 years since I last set foot in Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play the Dodgers. Now I get to retrace my steps and my memories with my son. Back then, though I was a Dodger fan, there were a few Cubbies I liked. As a 13 year old kid, I watched my favorite players like Ron Cey, Ryne Sandburg and Bill Buckner. Today, my son would have the chance to watch his favorite players, Stalin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.
But this was just the beginning. As we walked around the stands during battling practice, I spotted someone I knew my son would want to meet, his favorite author.
Back in June, I gave my son an autographed copy of the book 100 Things Cubs Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die written by a friend of mine, Jimmy Greenfield. My son was thrilled beyond belief and read nearly half the book the first day.
And to top off the moment, Jimmy, with the help of another ChicagoNow blogger David Wallach, present my son with a ball that had been used during batting practice. I tear up even now just thinking about the disbelief I saw in his eyes. My son clung to that ball for the rest of the day.
As the game began, we settled into our seats to enjoy a couple traditional ballpark franks, root beers and a side of fries. Micheal MacDermott’s rendition of our National Anthem and Chicago’s very own Tom Skilling’s 7th inning stretch Take me out to the Ballgame all added to my son’s day at the ballpark.
It wasn't the number of hits or great plays that were made. It wasn’t the number of runs that were scored. It wasn’t even whether our team won or lost. For my son this day was all about the experience.
I want to thank Courtney, Jimmy, David and Ed Nickow (who got us the tickets) for a day that neither my son or I will ever forget.
There are few things more wonderful for a parent than seeing sheer joy on the face of your child. The excitement, the wonder, the total disbelief all wrapped up into one marvelous expression in their eyes.
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