GREETINGS FROM THE FRIENDLY CONFINES
So I am taking a break from my “all chronological all the time” rule and checking in live and in person from the upper levels of the pressbox at Wrigley Field (or as the awesome Peoria Charter bus drivers called it “heaven” because we are SO high up) as the Chiefs “host” the Kane County Cougars at the first-ever Minor League game played here at Wrigley.
It’s also my first-ever trip to Wrigley. (And this extraordinarily cool picture is courtesy of Craig Watson Photography).
Not sure which is more historic a moment (I keed).
We had heard they pre-sold about 30,000 tickets and maybe a half-hour before gametime the stands were only about a quarter full, but by the time the game started the place was absolutely packed (though the famous rooftop seats across the street are all empty). Not sure how much the fact that the Peoria manager is Ryne Sandberg had to do with the turnout but as he said, Cubs fans are amazing and they are showing that here tonight.
Though I will admit the biggest cheer from the crowd came when they put up the “1″ on the scoreboard in center field to let the fans know the Cubbies had taken a 1-0 lead over Milwaukee in the fourth inning of their game on the road.
Anyway, the stadium is very cool though it kind of smells like mothballs and reminds me of my grandmother’s apartment. The ivy is gorgeous (did you know that it was planted in 1937 by Bill Veeck?). I know it is supposed to hurt like hell when an outfielder runs into the wall but it looks so soft and bouncy!
Speaking of bouncy, keep an eye on Cubs second base prospect Josh Harrison, a sixth-round draft pick this past spring out of Cincinnati. What a great personality! We chatted with him for a bit for the video feature we did on the event (which will be up on the MLB site by tomorrow and I’ll come back and link it when it’s up) … he had JUST been called up to Peoria and hasn’t even played a game there yet, and now here he is at Wrigley Field! He said he felt like a kid on Christmas and his smile backed that up.
I also did a pre-game interview with Kane County/Oakland second base prospect Jemile Weeks, their first-round pick this past spring out of Miami (and Rickie’s younger brother). He was an excellent interview, thoughtful and insightful, but I feel like a total jinx now because as the leadoff hitter in the game he injured his leg (I think, maybe ankle?) and had to leave. I am really hoping it looked a lot worse than it was but I fear he may be out for awhile.
We also got to watch two guys who will undoubtedly show up in our 2009 Moniker Madness tournament of 64: Rebel Ridling and Petey Paramore.
So my trip to Chicago is short and sweet … flew in last night and fly back home tomorrow, at which point I will be on call like an ER intern ready to step up to the plate if more prospects get traded before the Thursday night deadline.
My next trip isn’t until August 18 when I head, along with most of the MiLB.com staff, to Troy, N.Y., for the New York-Penn League All-Star Game (and no, I don’t know why they have a short-season All-Star Game three weeks before the season ends so please don’t ask me).
That break in the travel action should give me enough time to catch up on my New York and Louisville retrospective and muse about other topics as well …
In the meantime, may I send out my very best wishes to Buffalo Bisons first baseman Jordan Brown and his lovely wife Mendy who will be momentarily, if they are not already, the proud parents of a bundle of joy named Damon Jamison Brown. I already sent them a tiny little GotMilb onesie. Mazel Tov, you three!!!