Fan Follow Friday puts the spotlight weekly on one of my readers, as they share their favorite ballparks and baseball memories. Hope you enjoy hearing their stories!! This week we catch up with Rob Harris, a longtime Chicago Cubs fan:
Name: R. Lincoln Harris, but I also go by Rob
Age: Too young to know what a Cubs World Series feels like
Hometown: Springfield, IL
Favorite Team: Chicago Cubs, to my dismay sometimes
Blog/Website: Bluebattinghelmet.wordpress.com. I also contribute to several baseball-related websites, including ThroughTheFenceBaseball.com, FiveWideSports.com, WrigleyvilleNation.com, and ChicagoSideSports.com
How did you get into baseball? 1975 was the pivotal year for me. In July, my father took me to my first ballgame at old Busch Stadium in St. Louis. In late September, I stumbled onto a Cubs broadcast on WGN, and immediately switched my team loyalties. And the World Series that year between the Reds and Red Sox was such an epic battle that I was hooked for life after that. There’s no way any other sport can match baseball for me.
Favorite Ballpark? Wrigley is the obvious answer, but there are some other ones that are OK, too. Cubs fans are psychologically wedded to the ballpark as much as they are to the team. We’ve never seen the Cubs play anywhere but Wrigley and those who say tear it down and start over aren’t really Cubs fans, to me. Coors Field in Denver and Safeco Field in Seattle are good experiences, and it’s hard not to be impressed by Fenway Park, too. But Wrigley is to ballparks what the Louvre is to art museums.
Least Favorite Ballpark? I was just at a game in Marlins Park in Miami, and I absolutely hated it. I don’t like baseball indoors, and even on a half-price night, they closed the upper deck because the crowd was so small. Even though all the players on the field wore number 42, it felt like an affront to Jackie Robinson’s memory, on some level. But it also made me realize how essential it is to have Wrigley Field renovated, rather than reconstructed somewhere else. Any new ballpark in Chicago or the suburbs is going to be closer to the soulless ball mall in Miami than the baseball treasure that we have now.
Top Ballpark Memory? It’s funny, but it doesn’t even include a baseball game. I grew up watching the Cubs play on WGN, channel 9 in Chicago. I lived 200 miles away and was surrounded by Cardinals fans everywhere I went, but being able to watch Jack Brickhouse on the Cubs broadcasts made baseball come alive to me. I thought of Jack as the grandpa I never met. I went away to school, and on some level, I think that proximity to the ballpark was a consideration in this process. Jack had been replaced by Harry Caray by that time, and I loved Harry too, but Jack will always be number one to me. In 1998, Jack passed away. I was living in Chicago then, just a short walk away from the ballpark. So I took a flower and a candle and a baseball and walked to the park after I got the news of Jack’s passing. The Cubs used to have a walk of fame on Clark street, under the famed red marquee. It’s been gone for many years now because the marble they used couldn’t withstand the elements in Chicago. I went to Jack’s spot on the walk, lit the candle, placed the flower (it was Cubs blue, of course) and the baseball, and spent the next few minutes thanking Jack for all he had done for me. I was a fully-grown adult at the time, but it felt like I was a ten-year-old kid again in that moment. I’ll always be glad I did that.
****Would you like to be my next Fan Follow Friday?? Just email your responses to the bold questions and a couple of pictures to me at email@example.com. Don’t worry you don’t have to be a baseball blogger, just a baseball fan!!!
Past Fan #FF:
3/21/14 Bryan Mapes, Atlanta Braves
3/28/14 A.J. Martelli, New York Yankees
4/18/14 Mateo Fischer, Minnesota Twins