Until Wrigley Field became my neighbor, I abhorred professional sports. From London, England, by way of Grinnell, Iowa, by way of Connecticut’s Long Island shoreline, at age 21, I became an undergrad majoring in English at the University of Illinois Chicago. In those days, the ‘hoods around Wrigley were those a student supporting herself could afford.
I had never seen a cockroach before I moved into my two-room garden studio near the Belmont El stop. Most of the long-legged girls who strutted past were boys. Alleys bore the transient tags of skirmishing gangs, the most frightening of which was the Insane Unknowns.
As a college student, I had many afternoons off. Conveniently, the Cubs played only in the afternoons because Wrigley Field did not yet have lights. My boyfriend at the time, also a student, would come over, and we would walk the few blocks from my studio to the ballpark.
After half an inning you could get a desperate sidewalk scalper to accept a few bucks. At the 7th-inning stretch, the bleacher doors opened wide so students and other misfits might catch the end of the game and an Old Style buzz.
It was the Dark Ages for the Cubs. My boyfriend taught me about baseball while we witnessed one of the rare “almost!” seasons. I ditched that boyfriend not along afterwards. But for several decades, Wrigley Field remained my neighbor, and I endured dozens of baseball seasons, and the Chicago Cubs burrowed into my heart, for evermore. Alas, by the time the 2016 season rocked the world, I had already left Chicago. Now it’s Cubs territory wherever I am.