More than 40,000 Chicago baseball fans expected to descend on Wrigley Field both Tuesday and Wednesday to watch the Cubs take on the White Sox.
It doesn’t take a veteran Cubs fan to know that parking in Wrigleyville can be tricky (and expensive). Or that the longest lines to get into the ballpark will likely be at the main entrance. But with all the recent changes in and around Wrigley Field, we sought out tips to help both pros and rookies enjoy the old ball game.
Here’s some of what Cubs fans had to say on everything from blankets to beers.
How to prepare
Learn the traditions: “If you’re in the bleachers, and you catch an opposing teams’ home run ball, you have to throw it back. That’s the rule. Also, there’s no wave at Wrigley Field. We do not do the wave. It is forbidden.” — Season ticket holder Paul “Crawly” Dzien
Pack a bag: “It’s Chicago, so I have what I call my ‘blanket bag.’ I have my Cubs blanket and my scarf, mittens and a hat — all in this one particular Cubs recyclable bag. It’s ready to go and I leave it in my car — because you never know when it’s going to be 40 degrees at Wrigley Field.” — Season ticket holder Maria Smith
It’s OK to talk to strangers at “The Friendly Confines”: “Talk to the vendors. When I was little, there was this guy we would visit every single year who sold peanuts where we parked.” — Caroline Stiembuld (right)
What to do before the game
Tour Wrigley Field: “If you’re there [between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.], the tour guides will generally take you on the playing surface before batting practice starts … On Sundays, it’s even neater … If you go on an early tour, you’ll actually see mass at the ballpark. A lot of the tour guides — and some of the players — participate in Catholic mass at the ballpark. That’s done for the players and the concessionaires, since they’re working at the ballpark. To me, it’s one of the really neat, really human experiences you see at the ballpark.” — Tour guide and “unofficial Cubs historian” Brian Bernardoni
Try to snag an autograph during batting practice: “[Security] lets you go close to the field. They don’t really kick people out until batting practice is over. Some people try to get autographs — especially on the third base side towards the Cubs dugout. If you have kids … some of the guys are really nice about signing.” — Tour guide and “unofficial Cubs historian” Brian Bernardoni
How to get free stuff
Sign up as the designated driver: “You get a little coupon to get a free [soft] drink. They also do a drawing [for a T-shirt].” — Season ticket holder Maria Smith
What to eat and drink
Pack your own snacks — it’s allowed: “You can’t bring in alcohol or any [unsealed] bottle or can, but you can bring in a bag of peanuts that cost $2 outside and [much more] inside.” — Season ticket holder David Braverman
Follow this classic ballpark diet: “When we would take [my grandma] to the game, the third inning she has a beer and a hotdog — and the seventh inning she has a pretzel and a beer,” — Jessica Urgo (right), whose grandmother became a die-hard Cubs fan after a yearslong baseball boycott after her beloved Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.
Where to get the perfect photo
In the bleachers: “I always give somebody my phone to walk down below and get a picture with the old [scoreboard].” — Jessica Urgo (right)
In front of the marquee: “The best shots in front of the marquee are not with you directly underneath it, but rather closer to the corner of Clark and Addison. Proportionately, it looks a lot better … I see a lot of folks take pictures directly under the marquee, and they look like they’re about two inches big.” —Tour guide and “unofficial Cubs historian” Brian Bernardoni
What to do after the game
Don’t get on the subway. Get a beer at Murphy’s Bleachers: “When you go in the back there’s an outdoor area, and it’s great to go hang out, but when you look in the bar it just looks like a dingy indoor place.” — Jessica Urgo (right)
Quotes have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.