cubbiesAt Fenway, there’s a look. The eyes widen a certain way. As the smile spreads, the jaw drops just the slightest bit. There’s a quick intake of breath that is followed shortly thereafter by a sigh. In the best instances, a person speaks without even realizing it.

“Oh wow.”

That’s when the Fenway first-timer has seen the green on green for the very first time. It’s an absolutely amazing thing to witness – given my weekend job, I’ve been able to see it often.

I sometimes wonder about what my outward reaction was like when I saw the park for the first time. I remember that day – the flood of people moving up Brookline, the way the sun shone that day, the way the net looked above the Green Monster and how I thought it would be fun to sit in it like a hammock.

But my memory of seeing Fenway for the first time is from the perspective of a five-year-old. I’ve been getting to know Fenway over the course of 24 seasons – a game here, a handful of games there. I know the place well – all the better these last couple of seasons, of course – and I know that I’m lucky to be able to say that I only have a couple of memories of baseball before my memories of Fenway Park begin.

That’s all my way of trying to explain what I felt when I saw the white light fixtures against the sky as Nicole and I approached Wrigley on an early Saturday October afternoon.

When it comes to ballparks, you have Fenway, you have Wrigley, then you have everything else. I’ve loved the first since childhood, but my introduction to the second was coming when I was old enough to appreciate the wonder of what it all meant.

Thank goodness for Nicole, who let me bask in it all. And by bask, I mean dork out.

We took a long lap around the outside of the park, continuing our pre-Wrigley conversation but peppering it with questions and answers about our surroundings. I took more pictures than even my photographically-minded self would care to admit. I made a point of running my hand along the brick walls and imagining the number of Cubs fans who had done the same thing year after year, each thinking that that year was going to be The Year.

I’d done the same thing back home as a youngster – the only difference was that my hopes were finally answered, while my Chicago contemporaries continue to keep the faith.

It was quiet at the park – chairs stacked and ready for another season – and there were only a few people making their own park pilgrimages. I was noting the differences in the way Wrigley and Fenway were built, the surrounding buildings, the street names, Gate Q–

And that was when I saw Wrigley’s field.

Oh. Wow. The park was empty and I could have been content just looking through that gate all day.

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