Chicago & Wrigley Field

August, 2002 - Arizona Diamondbacks
May, 2003 - St. Louis  Cardinals
August, 2008 - Houston Astros
August, 2011 - Atlanta Braves
August, 2012 - Pittsburg Pirates
July, 2013 - St. Louis Cardinals
July, 2014 - Atlanta Braves
July, 2015 - Chicago White Sox
July, 2016 - Texas Rangers

Scenes Around Chicago

Michigan Ave.
Art Institute
Millenium Park
Field Museum
Skyline and Water Front

Wrigley Field is the home of the Chicago Cubs, the baseball team of which I have been cursed with being a fan since my family moved to the Chicago area in 1950.  My Dad was a great baseball fan and a Cubs fan since he saw the "Black Sox" throw games when he was a teenager around 1919.  Wrigley Field has always been a special place for myself and my brothers.  No family get together in Chicago is complete without taking in a game at the "Friendly Confines".

One of the pictures above was taken in 2002, when the Cubs were in last place,  the other was taken in 2003 when the Cubs were in first place.  Can you tell the difference and which is which.  No matter the standings the Cubs always draw a crowd.  Still it's just a lot more fun to be in the stands when they are winning.  Having been a Cubs fan for over 50 years I've had a lot of days at the "Friendly Confines" enjoying the ambience more than the results.  For the record the picture on the left was taking on May 9, 2003 at the Cardinals' game when the Cubs were in first place.  The picture on the right was taken on August 16, 2002 at the Diamondbacks' game when the Cubs were playing god awful.  The Cubs lost both games.  No one can accuse me of being just a good luck charm.
August, 2002 - Arizona Diamondbacks


The Manual Scoreboard Behind Center Field
Cubs are Trailing 2-0


Lines for the Food Vendors


Roof Top Stands on Waveland Ave.


Roof Top Stands on Sheffield Ave.


Sammy Sosa Takes a Big Swing ...


Then Grounds Out


Sammy and His Fans


The Press Box

The pictures above were taken the August 16 & 17, 2002 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

May, 2003 - St. Louis Cardinals


The Manual Scoreboard
Cubs are Trailing 6-3


Roof Top Stands on Waveland Ave.


Cubs are Batting Against St. Louis


An Infield Hit


Sammy in Right Field


Roof Top Stands on Sheffield Ave.

The pictures above were taken at the May 9, 2003 game with the St. Louis Cardinals.

August, 2008 - Houston Astros
I retired from work in July, 2004 and spent that summer preparing myself and my sailboat for a cruise to Europe, so no time that summer to get to Chicago for a game.  In the summers of 2005 and 2007 I was sailing across the Atlantic, to then from Europe.  In 2006 I was cruising the Mediterranean.  Finally in 2008 I rejoined my brothers for a game.
The pictures below were taken at the August 6, 2008 Houston Astros game.  The Cubs are once more in 1st place in the NL Central Division.

Game is Just Getting Underway

No Score in the 1st Inning
This was a Wednesday day game.  As you can see the stadium is nearly full, actually standing room only in the Bleachers.

Stands on 3rd Base Line and Left Field Bleachers
 In the picture on the left the Astros have just taken the field in the bottom half of the 1st inning.  For the first two innings this looked like a pitchers duel.  The Astros got one hit in the 2nd inning.  The Cubs got one run in the bottom of the 2nd with back-to-back doubles by Jim Edmonds and Mark DeRosa.
Then in the 3rd inning all hell broke loose.  The first two Astros were easy outs, then Matsui hit a double followed by a walk to Pence.  Matsui scored on a single by Berkman.  When Carlos Lee hit a homer the Astros were up 4-1.  It looked like my luck for the Cubs was holding strong.  I hadn't seen them win a game since 1994.
In the bottom of the 3rd Theriot hit a single sandwiched between a pop-out by Soriano and a fly-out by Derek Lee.  It looked like another goose-egg on the scoreboard.
In the picture on the left Aramis Ramirez swings at a pitch and either missed or fouled the pitch.  He hung in there and worked a walk.
I'm somewhat amazed by the quality of my Sony CyberShot camera.  If click on the picture to open it in full resolution you can actually see the ball out in front of Ramirez.
 
Ramirez Takes a Swing

Edmonds Takes a Walk
 So now there are two Cubs on base with two outs in the 3rd.

Jim Edmonds walked to fill the bases.
This brought Mark DeRosa to the plate.  DeRosa connected for a Grand Slam home run to left center field.  The Cubs were back on top 5-4 and the crowd was going wild.
Still with 2 outs the Cubs were not done for the inning.  After DeRosa's homer Fukudome hit a double and Soto walked.  The pitcher, Jason Marquis, then hit a double to score Fukudome and Soriano followed with a 3-run homer to left.
The Cubs were now in the lead 9-4.
 
DeRosa at Bat

Cubs Win!
 Amazingly Marquis settled in and pitched shutout ball into the 7th inning.  The Cubs added 2 more runs in the 5th inning.  The relief pitchers held the Astros scoreless the rest of the way.

CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!

11-4

In the picture on the left the Cubs take the field to celebrate the victory with the fans.
The pictures below show more of this capacity crowd for a mid-week day game.  The picture on the right, below shows a couple of the private bleachers on the building tops across the street from Wrigley field.  Even these seats are nearly half-full.  They normally fill up only for weekend or night games. Lou Boudreau, Cubs radio announcer back in the 60's, once asked, "How did all of these people get night jobs?"
August, 2011 - Atlanta Braves
In the summer of 2009 I was sailing my boat back from the Bahamas and in 2010 I was helping deliver a yacht from Alabama to Maine, and I missed Cubs games both summers.

Cubs Are Trailing 2-0 at the End of the Second Inning
 On August 22, 2011 I once more joined my brothers for a Cubs game.  This was a night game with the Atlanta Braves.
For most of this season the Cubs have been god-awful.  A few weeks earlier they started to play better and started winning.  Too late, though, the season is nearly over.
The game started a hour or so before sunset.  
Sun is Going Down

Night Baseball at Wrigley Field
By the 3rd inning it was nearly dark and the lights were on. 
Cubs lost 3-0.  
Soriano Swings and Misses
August, 2012 - Pittsburg Pirates

Ron Santo Statue
Our next family visit to the Friendly Confines was on August 1, 2012.  This was a few weeks after Ron Santo was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Also a few days after Theo Epstein started to dump all of the veteran players on the team in  an effort to rebuild with youth.
Billy Williams Statue

L-R: Sandy, Bobbi & Jeff
Jeff, as usual got us great seats.  If only the game was as great.
Actually the Cubs hung in very close until the eighth inning when the Pirates broke it open with 7 runs.  The Pirates  are vying for a play-off spot.  The Cubs hope to be vying for the play-offs in a few years.
Turned out the best part of the trip was the dinner Jeff treated us to at the West Town Taven the night before.  We returned to this restaurant in 2013 and would have again in 2014, but unfortunately it is no longer in business.

Pirates Batting in Top of the Eighth
July, 2013 - St. Louis Cardinals
On July 12, 2013 Jeff once again provided tickets to the Cubs game at Wrigley Field.  This time the opponent was the St. Louis Cardinals.
The weather that weekend in Chicago was spectacular with  sunny days, low temps and low humidity.

Cards Taking Batting Practice

Cards Batting in the Top of 1st Inning
This was a late afternoon game (AKA the Businessman's Special).  The Cards scored two runs in the 1st inning. 
As usual Jeff got us great seats.
Jeff, Sandy and Bobbi

Final Score: Cards 3, Cubs 2
The Cubs kept it close, but lost 3-2.  They won the previous day 3-0 and won the next day 6-4.  We Stevensons are certainly not good luck charms, except for the weather.
July, 2014 - Atlanta Braves
On July 11, 2014 we attended the game with the Atlanta Braves.  This was a see-saw game.  The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the 3rd, but the Braves tied it up in the 4th.
Cubs Take a 2-0 Lead in the 3rd

Cubs Re-Gain the Lead in the 6th
The Braves took a 3-2 lead in the 5th, and the Cubs came back in the 6th for a 4-3 lead.
The game went into the 9th with the Cubs holding that 1-run lead, but the Braves tied it up.
Braves Tie It Up in the 9th

Cubs Celebrate Walk-Off Win
In the Bottom of the 9th, with 2-outs Alcantara singled and then stole second.  Ruggiano singled Altcantara home and the Cubs celebrated the walk-off win in the usual manner of trying to injure the hero of the moment.
After the game we had dinner at the Eataly food store/restauraunt.  This is a massive 2-story complex of Italian food and products.
Jeff, Sandy and Bobbi at the Eataly
July, 2015 -  Chicago White Sox
Our next Cubs outing was on Friday, July 10, 2015 when the Cubs were hosting the Chicago White Sox.  This was the last series before the All-Star Game break.
This was our first time to see the upgrades that have taken place to Wrigley Field in the last year.  The most prominent of those changes is the large video board above the left field bleachers.

The Jumbotron in Left Field

The Video Scoreboard in Right File
Another, smaller video board is in the right field stands. 
Unfortunately the Cubs lost 1-0.  It was a well played game by both teams, just the result sucked.
The White Sox Congratulating Themselves on a Victory

Flying the "W" From the Spreader
In 2015 I ordered a "W" flag because the Cubs were winning enough that I thought I could get some use out of.  Of course it didn't arrive until just before the start of the NLCS, in which the Cubs were swept by the hated Mets.
Last night (2016 openning day) the Cubs won, so the flag is no longer a virgin.
July, 2016 - Texas Rangers
Our 2016 Cubs game was against the Texas Rangers on July 15.  We met next to the Ernie Banks statue.  Part of the massive construction underway in and around Wrigley Field can be seen in the background.
Enrie Banks Statue

Another Packed House
This was a close and well pitched game through the top of the 6th inning with the cubs leading 1-0.
In the bottom of the 6th the cubs blew it open with 5 runs to take a 6-0 lead.
In the picture on the right the Texas pitcher has just pitched to Contreras of the Cubs.  You can see the ball about half-way to the plate.  Pretty good for a phone camera.

Cubs Break It Open

A Cool, Cloudy and Misty Day in July
It was very cool, cloudy and misty day.  The wind was out of the north so no home runs today.

CUBS WIN 6-0!
After the game we had an excellent tapas-style dinner at the Girl & The Goat Restaurant.
Girl & The Goat Restaurant
Scenes Around Chicago

The pictures below were taken around the Chicago water front.

Michigan Ave, "The Miracle Mile"

Wrigley Building on Michigan Ave.
Michigan Ave is the up-scale shopping area in downtown Chicago.  It used to be State Street, but now this section of Michigan Ave, south of the river has been branded "The Miracle Mile".
On the left is the Wrigley Building, which is north of the river, as seen from Michigan Ave.
Also north of the river, opposite the Tribune Building is the Marilyn Monrow statue.  Why is that little kid standing under her dress?
Apparently the statue was just on loan to Chicago and is some place else as of 2012.

Marilyn Statue on Michigan Ave, Next to the River
Millenium Park
Along Michigan Ave is the latest public park in Chicago - The Millenium Park.  The pictures below are of the open air concert hall designed by Frank Gehry.

Roof of the Pritzker Pavilion

Pritzker Pavilion
In 2013 we took another walk through the Millenium Park and the Pritzker Pavilion.  On this trip it appeared the Chicago Symphony was performing a concert.  The arches seen in the pictures below support large audio speakers, which bring the music to those on the lawn.

Pritzker Pavilion in 2013

Audio Speakers on the Arches

The "Bean" (real title: "Cloud Gate")

Taking a Selfie on the Bean, 2016
(We are in the middle right of the picture)

The Crown Fountain

Kids Playing in the Shallow Pool Between the Fountains

"Taste of Chicago" in 2013
On the weekend of the 2013 Cubs game the "Taste of Chicago" festival was underway next to Millenium Park.  This is an exhibition of the many restaurants in Chicago.
The Art Institute
On the day before the August 22, 2011 Cubs game, my brothers and I visited the Art Institute.  That's Jeff peering under the lion at the entrance to the Institute.
Entrance to the Art Institute on Michigan Ave.
One of the exhibits we wanted to see was a tapestry made in Madagazcar from spider webbs.  That tapestry is shown  in the pictures below.

Entrance to the Exhibit
Also on exhibit that day was a collection of war posters from the Soviet Union.  A few are shown below.
In 2014 we viewed the exhibit of the surealist artist Rene Magritte.  We were not allowed to take pictures of the exhibit.
The Field Museum
On the Saturday after the 2013 game, we visited the Field Musem of Natural History.
We went primarily to see the primitive paintings from the Lascaux cave in France.
The picture on the right is of the largest complete Tyranasaurus Rex skeleton in existance.

Tyranasaurus Rex

Main Hall in the Field Museum
Photograhy is not allowed inside any of the exhibits in the Field Museum, so the only pictures I have are of the main hall.
Chicagor Skyline and Water Front
During most of the day before the 2012 game we strolled around the Michigan Ave area.
Skyscrapers Opposite Millenium Park

Chicago River
On the left is the Chicago River looking toward Michigan Ave.  The tall building in the center is another to which "The Donald" has rented his name.
Tour boats ply the river and the lake front.
Chicago River Tour Boat

Watching the Air Show on the Lake Front
The Chicago Air and Water Show took  place on the 2011 weekend.  We spent almost an hour watching the USAF Thunderbirds perform from Lakeshore Drive.
In 2013, the day after the game, we visited the Field Museum and the Adler Planatarium.  We wanted to visit the Shedd Aquarium as well, but the line to get in was very long.
On the way to the planatarium we had another spectacular view of the Chicago skyline and waterfront.

Chicago Skyline Viewed From the Adler Planatarium
In 2014 we took the boat tour of Chicago Architecture.  The tour was supposed to be on the Chicago River, but the recent rainfall had raised the level of the River such that the tour boat could not get under the bridges.  Instead the tour boat went out through the locks at the mouth of the river and toured the waterfront from Lake Michigan.
Later that night we attend a performance of the Lerner & Lowe musical Brigadoon at the Goodman Theatre.