I’ve crossed a few things off my bucket list this year and the No. 1 thing happened three weeks ago: I saw a World Series game at Wrigley Field with my dad.
The day the Chicago Cubs clinched the pennant, I thought it was a dream, and still thought Games 1 and 2 against Cleveland weren’t real.
How could the Cubs be in the World Series, this hasn’t happened since 1945? But once I saw the logo painted down the lines for Game 3, I knew it was real.
Through a connection, my brother Matt was able to score Game 4 and 5 tickets, but due to some other obligation, there was an extra Game 4 ticket and it was mine if I could find a way to get up to Chicago.
Of course I wasn’t going to miss this game. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I would regret for the rest of my life if I didn’t go.
Around August I decided I would take more chances and deal with the potential consequences after the fact.
So far, I’m batting 1.000 in those decisions and realized experiences trump material things.
After a number of talks with my dad about how I would get up there, the flight was booked a few days prior to my quick trip home.
I was born in Park Ridge, Ill., and grew up in Evanston, Ill., for the first eight years of my life, less than nine miles from Wrigley Field, before moving to Naperville, Ill., where I graduated from high school.
As much as I love my alma mater, Kansas, the Cubs will forever be No. 1 in my heart. My dad’s parents gave me a teddy bear when I was born and it was dressed in a Cubs home uniform.
My grandfather passed away in 1996 and I remember attending his final baseball game with him, my dad and my cousin.
I’ve been to more Cubs games than I can count, but this one was very similar to the others, but also different. It’s one that I will always remember.
My Saturday started like any other Saturday this fall and that was with coffee and posting football stories to the websites and catching up on social media.
That’s when the routine changed. I hopped in the car, drove to MCI and boarded my flight to Chicago.
My dad picked me up at O’Hare and after a quick stop home to see my mom; we were off to the city.
Nothing is unusual at this point, but we did have to stop and pick up the tickets from my brother, who was in the process of getting ready for a Halloween party he was attending that night.
We parked the car, hung out with my dad’s friend on the Chicago River before departing for the Red Line.
For a regular season game the Grand Street station wouldn’t have been as packed as it was. There were hundreds of people wanting to get on the train to go up north and the trains that did come through were squished with people.
One train passed before we got on and as we approached Wrigleyville, you could see waves of people blocks away from the stadium.
Police had blocked off roads as swarms of people walked in the middle of the street. It was an absolute zoo when finally got off the train.
My dad and I made our way to the front of the stadium to snap a few photos of the iconic red marquee:
INDIANS VS. CUBS
WORLD SERIES GAME 4 | 7:00 PM
I started getting goose bumps.
We hand the usher the tickets and they scan. This is really happening.
The walk up the steps was nothing out of the ordinary as I first laid eyes on the scoreboard and the ivy, but that’s when things were different.
The video boards in left and right field showed the World Series logo, there were hundreds of media members on the field. It was just a baseball game, but the stakes were higher.
I didn’t take many pictures because I wanted to soak in the experience, but those goose bumps kept coming back.
A video of Harry Caray. Goose bumps. The singing of ‘God Bless America’ and the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ Goose bumps. The first run of the game where it was the loudest I had ever heard Wrigley Field. Goose bumps.
The blue ‘L’ flag was raised above the scoreboard for the final time this season as Cleveland won the game 7-2 to take a 3-1 series lead, but like Golden State, couldn’t complete the job.
Game 4 was the second best night of my life and would be topped four days later when the improbable happened.
I’ll turn 27 in a couple of days and this was the best birthday present…ever.