Big League Stew - MLB

I could go on and on about Wrigley Field and what it means to me. The only problem is that I already wrote a book about quitting my job and doing nothing but going to Cubs games for a summer. Really, I did. You can buy it right here. All of that and more is in there. (Surely, I'm allowed this plug, aren't I?)

OK, so if you want to save a few bucks — I live but for to serve you — here's what you need to know: The oldest ballpark in the National League, Wrigley Field occupies a special place in the hearts of baseball fans from coast to coast. From the partiers in the bleachers to the old-timers in the grandstand, you can see nearly every type of person when taking in a Cubs game. Throw in a vibrant and pulsating neighborhood filled with some of the friendliest people around and you have one of America's top sports attractions ... as well as a home for the perpetual hard-luck Cubs. 

So, in honor of this weekend's Cubs-White Sox series, follow the jump for our latest entry into Big League Stew's Big Ballpark Review ... Chicago's Wrigley Field. Also, don't forget to be back here at 7 p.m. on Sunday as David Brown and I present the Stew's first-ever live blog on the nationally-televised Cubs-Sox game. 

To submit tips on your home ballpark, e-mail 'Duk at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com. Next week's schedule: Busch Stadium, Comerica Park, AT&T Park.

Facts and figures (more at Ballparks.com)

Address: 1060 W. Addison, Chicago IL 60613, 773-404-CUBS

Built: 1914

Capacity: 41,118

Cost: $250,000

Dimensions: Left field: 355, left center deepest corner in the well: 357, power alleys: 368; center field: 400; right center deepest corner in the well: 363; right field: 353; backstop: 60; foul territory: very small.

Biggest moment: This is a strange one to pick. Do you go with Babe Ruth's called shot in the '32 World Series, even though it's for another team? Do you go with something like the blown 8th inning in Game Six of the '03 NLCS, even though it's not a pleasant memory for Cubs fans? Do you go with Gabby Hartnett's "Homer in the Gloamin'" to clinch the '38 NL pennant, even though many of us don't remember it? Or do you go with an amazing individual achievement — Ernie's 500th? Sammy's 62nd? Kerry's 20-strikeout game? We'll leave this open to interpretation until the Cubs finally win a World Series there and erase all debate.  

Fun fact: Wrigley Field was the first ballpark to feature a permanent concession stand, as well as the first to allow fans to keep foul balls.

Resources:Buy tickets ($10-$80) • Seating charts Stadium infoChoose Chicago.com

Big Ballpark Review
AL EAST    NL EAST
Baltimore   Atlanta
Boston   Florida
N.Y. Yankees   N.Y. Mets
Tampa Bay   Philadelphia
Toronto   Washington
AL CENTRAL   NL CENTRAL
Chi. White Sox   Chi. Cubs
Cleveland   Cincinnati
Detroit   Houston
Kansas City   Milwaukee
Minnesota   Pittsburgh
AL WEST   St. Louis
L.A. Angels   NL WEST
Oakland   Arizona
Seattle   Colorado
Texas   L.A. Dodgers
    San Diego
    San Francisco 

How to get there

"Only one way to go and that's the Red Line, always full of Cubs fans on gamedays. I've had many great conversations with random fans on the El." — Tom Pollack 

"The EL — Unlike every park in America besides Fenway, Wrigley is not surrounded by parking lots." — Matt Hodge, St. Louis ("Believe it or not.")

"Do not attempt driving. There is NO parking. None. Take that back. There are two lots maintained by the Cubs for a few season ticket holders. Otherwise, plan on street parking or paying upwards of $40.  Don’t drive. Period." — Randy Knott, Montgomery, Ill. ("Named after Randy Hundley, the Cubs’ catcher the year I was born. My three-year-old son is named after Michael Barrett, the Cubs’ catcher the year he was born.")

"There's actually non-restricted parking in front of my apartment, which is about a mile west of the park. But if you think I'm telling you where that is ... Actually, if you need to drive, you can always park at DeVry off Addison and take a CTA bus to the park for $6. Not ideal, but much better than parking for $35 in someone's garage." — 'Duk.

Before and after the game

"Go to Wrigleyville Dogs, just north down Clark. It's open late and has some good food, Right across the street is The Metro where you can catch a show at night — or after 11 p.m. go to the Smartbar downstairs, have drinks and listen to the DJ for the night." — T.P.

"There's a great all-you-can-eat sushi place called Sushi Para II, about a $5 cab ride from Wrigley ... $16.99, all-you-can-eat sushi — can't beat it." — Allen Wolfe

"Try to get to the park two hours early to watch batting practice. You’ll enjoy walking in, will get whatever promotion they’re giving away that day (and the Cubs do a TON of giveaways), and the place is relatively empty." — R.K.

"A recent tradition my friends and I have developed at Wrigley is a visit to Sluggers either before, after, or during the game. The bar is nothing special, really, except for its batting cages upstairs. If you think you can do better than, say, Kosuke Fukudome (hint: you can't), pop a few dollars down and take some pitches in Sluggers' notoriously dark cages. Embarrassing yourself can be fun." — Eamon Brennan, Y! Sports The Dagger, We Are The Postmen

"Have a drink before the game and a meal at any number of bars if you’re inclined.  I like Yak-Zee’s just down Clark. They have a terrific burger and are pretty laid back — not stuffed to the gills. Goose Island Brewery is far enough away from the madness to be great too.  I like going there after the game for a nice sit down meal." — R.K.

"Tuscany has very good food, but is a bit on the classier side.  Casey Moran's and Cubby Bear both have decent food.  There is a place south of Wrigley on Clark called Pizza Ria that has some of the best pizza that you can find and they sell by the slice. Always packed after games." — Brian Miller, Palos Park, Ill.

"Two words: Uber Stein. Get a shot-ski. In the pantheon of Wrigleyville bars, this one is vastly underrated." — E.B.

"While I don't think you can visit Wrigleyville and NOT go to Murphy's Bleachers for at least one, the most underrated bar along Clark Street is Full Shilling, which is right next to the Metro and has the best bar food along the strip. Beer's nothing special, but they have HUGE cans of Old Style for $6, which sadly qualifies as a bargain on gamedays. The waitresses are usually looking good and if you see a handsome bouncer with long hair named Brian, tell him the 'Duk sent you. (Heck, I might be there talking to my friend myself.) If you're looking for pizza, make the trip to Art of Pizza on Ashland and thank me later." — 'Duk 

What to eat

"Nothing beats an all beef hot-dog Chicago style, I like mine the classic way, and absolutely NO ketchup. Don't forget an ice-cold Old Style."  — T.P.

"Old Style! Old Style and Wrigley go together like mint juleps and the Kentucky Derby, or like strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. It's not about the taste (which I actually happen to like), it's about the tradition." — M.H.

"The food is nothing to brag about. No specialty items, no nothing. Just hot dogs and the occasional Connie’s Pizza.  Highly disappointing, though I would buy the kosher dog rather than a hot dog.  (But) Wrigley is not there for its food." — R.K.

"The best concession food item has to be either the foot-long hotdogs or the Italian Beef made by Levy Restaurants." — Vince Siragusa, Homewood, Ill.

Where to sit

"My favorite place to sit is either in the upper deck box seats (400-level) right below the press boxes or the club box seats (0-level) right near the field, over by the bullpen. Both offer great views of the field, and if you're lucky, either the singer of the Seventh Inning Stretch or one of the starting pitchers. This year I was less than 10 feet from both Tom Arnold and Greg Maddux." — T.P.

"Best place to sit? Bleachers. Best place with kids? Anywhere else." — M.H.

"The bleachers ... all the way. I prefer the right field side, but you can't go wrong anywhere. They're not the cheapest seat in the house, but they offer the best feel for the game and atmosphere. I don't recommend bringing kids into the bleachers though. There's a lot of drinking and swearing." — B.M.

"NOT the bleachers. The bleachers are populated with drunks. It is not a very pleasant experience, and there is nothing glamorous about it. It’s a big party. I suppose if you went in for a Lake Havasu vacation the bleachers would seem great, but as a responsible adult, NO WAY am I sitting out there again and I’m certainly not bringing anyone under 14. I would work my tail off to get tickets in the lower deck anywhere in front of the column line. That’s the best place to watch the game. It’s peaceful, you can enjoy the sun, you’re not beaten up by a P.A. system, etc." — R.K. 

"The seats behind the column line — around Row 13 in the upper grandstand — are horrible. That’s also roughly 35-40% of the seats in the lowe level  You sometimes can’t see a fly ball’s arc, you can’t see the scoreboard, some positions (often times the pitcher) will be blocked by a steel column, and you’re in the shade all day.  It’s miserable, so do your homework when buying tickets." — R.K.  

"If I'm sitting bleachers, I go right field, third row, an excellent spot for catching homers. If I'm in the grandstand, I don't think you can beat the 400-level seats in the upper deck. No obstructions and great view of the neighborhood beyond the Wrigley walls." — 'Duk

Misc.

"It's just such a classic park. The scoreboard is still manual, there's no big distracting video board, there's  the ivy and there are all the greats that called it home — Santo, Banks and Williams." — T.P.

"The best part about Wrigley is that it is in the middle of the city, it's surrounded by houses and apartments with bleachers on the roof, bars are literally across the street and there are no parking lots. It really is a part of the city." — M.H.

"To me, there are few things better than sitting in the right field bleachers with a cold beer watching a day game. I love it. The atmosphere out there is awesome, it's like one giant party. Ask anyone who has been there and they'll tell you the same. It's the best place in the bigs to watch a game.  I've been to plenty of other parks, but nothing compares to the Wrigley Field bleachers." — B.M. 

"I always have a blast trying to scalp tickets out on Sheffield Avenue, but be careful who you buy from. Some of the less respectable scalpers will try to sell you a standing-room-only seat and claim you can stand in the bleachers. You can't. Also, try to take a moment and watch the Wrigley Field ballhawks do their work on Waveland. They have a million stories and can spot a wall-clearing ball from six city blocks." — 'Duk 

"Ask someone about 'Eamus Catuli' and what AC 006299 means. Don’t be surprised when they don’t know. Keep asking. Someone near you will know." — R.K.

"There are a significant amount of people at Wrigley who are there only for the experience.  Not everyone, but don’t expect the guy next to you to know anything about the game.  He may be a true fan, but you run at least a 25% chance that he won’t know more than one or two guys’ names in the starting lineup. There's also a good chance he’s from out of town." — R.K.

"The best thing I like about Wrigley Field is when ever the Cubs are winning or losing, Wrigley Field has filled its seating capacity every single game, rain or shine. Compared to other stadiums in the United States and then one in Canada, I feel at home with other fans to celebrate a win or a homerun during a Cub game." — V.S.

Have an insider's tip for Wrigley Field that you didn't see listed here? E-mail it with your name and home town to 'Duk at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com for possible inclusion in the post.

Big League Stew's Big Ballpark Review will run all summer and will feature all 30 MLB ballparks. We welcome reviews for any ballpark. To do so, visit this post for submission guidelines.

COMING MONDAY: St. Louis' New Busch Stadium (Send your tips!)

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