Wrigley Field: a photographic essay: baseball on the fringes.

Built in 1914, Wrigley Park is known to be the oldest original Big League Baseball park still remaining in America.  It is shortly to be cleaned up and renovated a little so John and I went up to Chicago to join Chg John in a last look before it is changed. I had never been here before. The John, John pair had been numerous times before and were full of stories.



When we popped up into the sunlight  from the underground we were immediately accosted by hawkers and scalpers and panhandlers and crowds. Everyone was smiling and laughing. Everyone was having a good time. This was probably my lasting impression of the day. The game was one thing, but having a good time while watching the game was why they came.

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The T shirts and caps are the same the world over. Just different logos.


Some participants in the promenade on the fringes were more serious than others.

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But generally the thousands of people who thronged the streets and pubs were out for a good time. There was no animosity between the teams followers.  They were all there to have a great day out or to make money from the people having a great day out. And it worked.



On the street behind the outfield(Wrigley Park is built in a lovely old residential area) people stand waiting with their mitts. They are listening for the crack of the ball hitting the bat which may preempt the ball being hit right out of the park. These people catch the balls that sail over the bleachers and into the street. Actually these men were pretty serious too.


The firemen.. not so serious.cubs-043


Once inside the Stadium, the sweep of the perfectly groomed green, and the walls covered in Ivy, with the backdrop of Chicago was truly impressive. You can see to the right of this shot where companies have trimmed the tops off the houses and built mini stadiums. Roof top watching is not what it used to be!  The renovations to the park include huge revenue gathering billboards, that will be sited right in front of the rooftop view. Some people are a little bit cranky about that.


cubs-055For me: The lead up to the game  was much more fun to watch than the game itself. I do apologise to all you cubs fans but I was more interested in the fans than the game.


This score board is original. Little men sit in the dark in there, watching the game through tiny tiny windows and manually change the numbers on the board as the game progresses. Thank goodness the fans won the battle to keep the score board. There will be another fancy pancy one with all the bells and whistles  and flashing lights but it will be off to the side and probably block someone else’s view.


The lights are a comparatively modern addition.

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I suppose the lasting impression of the day was the joy of the crowds coming to the ballgame. There was no shouting at the ref, or cans being thrown at the field, there were no fights between the fans or between the players.

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People came to watch the game and have a drink and talk to each other. cubs-081

There is even a gate that is left un-masked so anyone can pause and watch a bit of the game as they pass by.

Everyone will tell you I know nothing about sport.  Nor do I care to.  I am happy to leave that to you. I love that people love sport but I could not sit still for a whole game if I was paid. Many of my friends in NZ will tell you this. They will tell you that I am more likely to comment on the length of a players legs or the colour of his shorts than the game itself. They will also tell you that they sigh with relief when I get bored and wander off.

So I will make no comments on the game itself. But I was glad I went to Wrigley Field and was able to taste a little of the joy that surrounds the game. The traditions that cradle this joy. And the sweetness of belonging. We were surrounded in laughter. This big old field has history on it’s side.  The stadium is the winner.

Bet you didn’t guess I was going to a ball game did you?!

Today I am back on the September Home Grown Challenge. Eating only what I produce. Enough of the gallivanting about the country side!  We found a restaurant serving local produce and had to laugh when we saw the names of towns quite close to us where this local produce was produced!  So I made notes and will be doing some visiting when The September Challenge is over.

You all have a lovely day.

your friend back on the farm, celi


79 Comments on “Wrigley Field: a photographic essay: baseball on the fringes.

    • It was never quiet, not like watching the tennis! Everyone was talking and laughing and drinking and taking each others photos.. with only one eye on the game.. great! c

  1. Certainly surprised me. I thought that baseball crowds would be like English football crowds ( that means soccer not rugby, which I like ) which are to be avoided at all costs in my mind. It sounds like you, and your Johns ( that sounded bad) had a good time and took great pics..love them. It’s odd that rugby crowds in England are nearly always peaceful, in that the only people fighting are on the pitch. Soccer crowds reverse that principle:)

    • Yes the footy games in england are pretty intense. In London I lived kind of close to a football stadium, the roars of disgust and booos when things went wrong could be heard for blocks and the crowd was nothing like the congenial laid back crowd at the baseball. AND everyone sat together.. no sides! Imagine!! c

  2. What a lovely surprise for us to read this – so glad you had a lovely day and you spent time with the John, John pair! Big Man and I went to the final of the Basketball last year at the Olympics (US vs Spain – I had hoped for this and got lucky!). Spain lost 😦 but like you, my abiding memory of the event was the fun, the atmosphere, the fans, the laughter and the general feeling of goodwill to each other. This is what sport should be like. In fact, this is what politics and running the world should be like – if only 😉

    • The man who owns it now has been going to this stadium since he was a little boy and though he is making changes to make more money, I think he has a genuine affection for the old building, so lets hope some of the old traditional bones are allowed to stay intact. c

  3. I’m in your camp, Celi. I’ve never been much of a *sports fan. However I love your B&Ws of the people and the game at Wrigley! Seeing these in color would diminish the experience.

    (*Well, OK, briefly in Jr. High. 😉 )

  4. I’m so glad you had such a wonderful time Celi, (and took so many photos!) Have to tell you a little story. (Oh no, not again!…lol) This was 22 yrs ago when my then husband and I went away on a little holiday down the coast. I was just pregnant with Chloe and hormonal to the max. We stopped at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fran and as I got out of the car I was flattened by a guy running between the cars with a sack of stolen T shirts. The another guy came running after him with a knife, hit me and pushed me flat against the car again. I was an absolute basket case. I was inconsolable and J didn’t know what to do so we went back to our hotel in Oakland for me to recover. In the evening we saw the baseball stadium lights and, even though I was never, ever getting out of the hotel room ever again, I got the bravery to go to the baseball game. And there, we found the most loving, kind, wonderful people I’ve ever met in my life. Some invited us to come stay at their home instead of the hotel and many are still my friends. American baseball fans are the most fantastic people in the world!

    • How completely terrifying, esp the man with his knife intent on getting his T shirts back. T shirts and knives sound a little incongruous though. I am glad you came back out into the light though! What an experience.. c

  5. i have to show this to my husband and son. we live baseball and all sports here. 81 home games and they never miss one. i am a baseball widow! i have to watch the games on tv just to be able to talk to them during the season.

  6. This was so much fun to read — I felt the excitement of the day. How great to have visited before the ballpark is renovated. Why is it that these renovations always manage to take all of the soul out of a place? I hope there is some of that intangible spirit left when they are done with Wrigley Field.

    • In that big shot of the front of the park you can just imagine it in the early part of that century, it looked exactly the same.. so I do hope they are being careful/. c

  7. Sounds like a fabulous day Celi!!! I’m with you though, getting into the sitting and watching of sports is very difficult for me too!!! xo

    • The Americans are deeply unimpressed when I call Baseball – Rounders .. The sound track is perfect! For a change I am able to play a UTube vid. It is a bit sad though. Thank you Viv.. c

  8. I’m totally with you on sports, C. I could care less. I’m a people watcher, too. I see a few of those police officers giving you the eye. Sounds like you had a great time, despite the game.

    • The game was nice too, just a wee bit .. um.. laid back i guess, I have to admit though that I talked my oops THE Johns into leaving a wee bit early and walking down a few blocks to a lovely italian restaurant with very cold wine! c

  9. Once during a visit with my sister, she took me to a baseball game (I’m an avid baseball fan!), and it was a totally memorable day – a proper ballpark hotdog, an icy beer, and the crack of a bat. Heaven. Glad you had the chance to see Wigley, c.

    • fancy you being a baseball fan! Excellent.. what was great about the game was that everyone there wanted to be there and wanted to have a good time.. sounds obvious but it is a recipe for success, no matter how badly your team plays! c

  10. A woman after my own heart regarding watching sporting events! Well, apart from the Tour de France that is! Lovey ‘people’ photos.

    • Morning Christine.. I have never watched the Tour de France but I think Eha does. Where is Eha anyway?, we have not heard from her in the comments lately! I must track her down.. c

  11. I’m like you. I have very little patience for sports, but I LOVE the excitement, the joy, the energy that flows at these kinds of events.

    $7.75 for a beer? Oh, goodness!

  12. So glad to see what you spent the afternoon pointing your lens at. Printing them in B&W suits Wrigley just fine. Nice touch. It was a good day at the ballpark and I’m glad you got to see Wrigley before The Change. I do wish a ball had gotten lost in the ivy for you. It’s part of the spectacle that you’ll only see at Wrigley Field. Maybe next time … 🙂

  13. What a fun outing and your black and white images are so great. They really capture the emotions and feel of the day in a way that color could not. I, too, am not a big sports fan. Formula One racing is the only sport I can watch and I get antsy with that, too. But I love that Wrigley has maintained that original feeling for so long, and I do hope they don’t screw it up too much. This is the first time I’ve really seen such views of that stadium and the stadium views of Chicago, and it is wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Where we were sitting had the most fantastic views! We were very lucky that Chg John was in charge of the seating!! c

  14. I’m so glad you made it up to a game Celi. It is such a fun place to be – win or lose. I’ve never had a bad time at the ballpark. I love the photos you took. They do capture the essence of the place.

  15. We enjoyed today’s blog immensely. We’re Boston Red Sox fans & Fenway Park is just as nostalgic as Wrigley, with the men changing the scores by hand. If my other 1/2 (Misfit) can find pictures of Fenway, he’ll forward them to you. But, unlike you, I do love the the game of baseball! Football, on the other hand is borrrring! Keep up the good work!

    • I would love to see those shots. though i am not good with sports i do love the stadiums.. And I love the love people have for the game. it is all so much more congenial here.. I never heard one Boo from the crowd, it was wonderful.. c

  16. Love this! Now I need to go rummage through my old negatives and slides (remember those?!) from years ago when my photography class hung out around Wrigley. I totally remember that fire station and the very serious guys waiting in the street with their mitts. I’m just like you when it comes to “watching” a game, I can’t sit still either. Being from Detroit, I do love to listen to the Tigers on the radio while I’m out puttering in the garden; their announcers are the BEST. My Chicago south-side born and raised husband cheers for the Sox 🙂

    • I do remember those negs, i had my own darkroom for years.. LOVE to see some of your shots, that would be brilliant.. c

  17. You are such a great photographer. I’m with you, I couldn’t watch a game but your photos and observations made me smile. It’s the romantic idea of baseball that I like.

  18. What a great experience, I’ve never been either and now feel like I should have before the renos. Such a shame everything has to be made modern, some things are just as good as is. It looks like you and I have the same opinion regarding sports. At least the beer is tasty!

    • I hear that they are going to be careful with the renovations, it will be more bill boards and posh boxes, mostly they are for revenue gathering they tell me. I mean how else are they going to pay these guys, they are paid unreal amounts of money… c

      • It’s really too bad that the roof top galleries will be out of business, it’s such an integral part of the stadium, but I can surely see how the lost revenue would be a sore spot for the stadium and the team.

        • They are businesses now, not like the old days (in fact John and John told stories of visiting pals up there to watch the games and sharing beer across the rooftops) nowadays it is big business.. and the seats are expensive, but ah well they are on the fringes too, making money from the game.. evidently they have to share a percentage of what they make with the stadium too.. c

  19. Love love love the black and white photo essay of Wrigley Field. it is the faces that are fascinating. We are all just a little voyeuristic and I had a wonderful time indulging this morning Celi. V.

  20. I love this post! Your photos are fantastic! I was at Wriggly Field back in the late 80’s. I’m not much of a sports person either, but the atmosphere and people watching is always great entertainment!

  21. I know that rugby, cricket and football each has its own vibe. I would love to go to a baseball match in the home of it – I’m sure the game also has a unique one.

  22. I am exactly on your team with regard to my interest in sports, however, like you I sometimes enjoy the spectacle. I have only ever seen Wrigley from the outside so thank you for the tour!

  23. Excellent photo essay, and glimpse of what is for me a different culture. I enjoyed the cultural and actual heritage and people context.

      • We have a radio personality in Sydney who regularly refers to hotdogs as ‘snouts & a***holes’, so I wouldn’t have been brave enough either…

  24. You captured the atmosphere perfectly! I will be showing this to my husband and son that go to those games , and I do not! lol. I grew up near Chicago and now they take a bus trip back( we live 4 hours away now) to see games every season. I never go, because I, too, do not care about the game—but the people were so much fun to watch..just like Union Station /Chicago Ohara…people watching at it’s best-:-) loved the photo essay….

  25. You are truly a kindred spirit: “I love that people love sport but I could not sit still for a whole game if I was paid.” What a wonderful post, though. You interested even this fellow sport-hater! Beautiful photos, C. What a lovely day you had.

  26. I’m not a baseball fan, either, but visiting Wrigley Field is more of an historical adventure. 🙂 It does seem everyone was well-behaved. Isn’t that about right, to block the view so those interested will have to buy a ticket. Glad John got to go with you!

  27. I myself am not a baseball fan, but while living in DeLand, Florida for five years (population at that time about 15,000) before marrying my husband, he got me hooked on NASCAR racing. I felt the same joy and excitement being at a NASCAR race at Daytona Beach which was only 20 miles away. It was the Daytona 500 which is one of the premiere race of that field. It was completely incredible! The sights, the sounds, the people. Almost overwhelming, Celi! I could have never imagined about 200,000 people in one place after coming from such a small town…!

  28. Sounds like lots of fun, and what a surprise to find you there! You certainly capture the atmosphere with great zest. What a contrast with the farmy.

  29. Apparently you have exactly the same attitude about sporting events that I have. So glad you took advantage of the opportunity to document the *really* interesting parts of the occasion for us in this marvelous photo-essay, and especially glad you two could go with Chgo John! What a delight in all ways, even if it took *baseball* to make it happen! 😉

  30. Funny but your beer vendor pic sort of looks like the Infamous Cubs fan Steve Bartman who in 2003 may or may not have have cost the Cubs a trip to the World Series.

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