Ryan, myself and Jared. Classmates starting in'95, State Champion teammates in 2007, and friends for life.

 

A Trip to Chicago

In the summer of 2009 I went to Fenway Park. It had always been a dream of mine and it finally came true. I had an amazing experience there (too long to write about, but maybe in a podcast one day), and left Massachusetts thinking that experience would never be topped. That, of course, was before I ventured to Chicago to visit my best friend Derek, see my great friend Jared, and watch the clash between the first place Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

I won’t give out too many details of my Friday night adventure, but let’s just say this: I stayed out later than I ever have, and it is now a week later and I’m not sure my sleep pattern has fully recovered.

But Saturday was the day I made the lasting memories. Derek and I got up and got our morning going by indulging ourselves with a donut from Fire Cakes (absolutely amazing, if you’re in Chicago I’d highly suggest starting your morning there). Then after a quick jolt of caffeine I met up with Josh, Megan and wonderful little Reid Hilgefort, as well as Tony and Vicki Fullenkamp, to enjoy the train ride to Wrigleyville.

What ended up being my biggest mistake of the weekend (and that’s shocking after Friday night) is that I only made one lap around Wrigley, so I missed out on some of the sights of Wrigleyville. My (quite valid) excuse is that the Rangers were taking batting practice and we wanted to get inside as soon as we could. Josh and I found our seats and then ventured around to home plate where we could watch Jared taking hacks with the likes of Jurickson Profar and Cole Hamels.

Jared hit a few homers (though after Hamels hit his first I’ll point out), and even put one off the scoreboard in right field that brought the Cubs fans to their feet.

I want to take a moment here to tell you about the Cubs fans I interacted with. Wearing my Hoying Rangers jersey, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from loyal Chicago fans, but they were great. The few I talked to in more detail at my seat during the game were cheering for Jared to get in by the fourth inning. When Roughned Odor made an error on a play in the fifth that forced Texas to bring in a reliever (and thus dampen Jared’s chances of playing), I threw my pencil in disgust and the five or six Cubs fans I had talked to all booed! The fans as a whole were engaged on every pitch, sang their hearts out with Harry Caray during the best 7th inning stretch I’ve ever been apart of, and somehow sang “Go Cubs Go” even louder than “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” after the victory. It truly was an amazing baseball experience.

With the Hilgeforts, Fullenkamps, Hoyings and Schemmels (my classmate Ryan, his brother Dustin and dad Jeff) all present, the big group got together for some Chicago-style pizza. It gave us a chance to sit down, catch up, and hear some of Jared’s big-league stories. The part that stuck out most was the fact that it could have been the exact same crowd at Al’s or Bruckens on a night in the offseason. It was the best part of the entire weekend, and a great reminder that above all the things I’ve been blessed with in my life, growing up in Fort Loramie is at the top of the list.