Last Train to Wrigley



A more beautiful morning in the height summer of is not possible in the suburbs of Chicago, 75 degrees or so with a light breeze, perfect. Sipping my morning coffee, I pondered the day to come and ultimately my afternoon at Wrigley field with Lion. I decided to divide Lion into three portions with the intent of visiting four or five spots around town.




At around 10:30 AM, with my backpack loaded for my 9PM flight home, we left for our days adventure with a ritual burning of a little, um, catnip, to set the proper mood. Our first stop would be the Ridgeland Station for the Green Line into the City. There were few people around, so we went down to the end of the platform to wait for the train in solitude, tracks stretching into the distance toward the Chicago skyline. The Ridgeland Station will now always have a little bit of Lion.




Clark and Lake is in the heart of downtown Chicago, with the river between the station and our lunchtime destination. We wandered here and there going wherever the spirit moved us. We passed a big movie production and reached a quiet bridge over the Chicago River, where I felt moved to set Lion adrift to destinations unknown, governed only by the whims of the river, a fitting place for a wandering spirit.




On to lunch at the Billy Goat Tavern. If you know Chicago, the Billy Goat is the next logical destination in this journey, but if you don’t know Chicago, I’ll tell you a little bit about it. The Billy Goat is probably best known from its portrayal on Saturday Night Live as the CheezBorger, CheezBorger no Coke Pepsi restaurant staffed by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, and a very accurate portrayal it is. We had the Double CheezBorger, AKA CheezBorgerCheezBorger, and a Coke, no Pepsi. It was quite good.




But in Chicago, the Billy Goat is known as the source of  “Da Curse”.


From DaCurse.com

October 6, 1945 - The Beginning of Da Curse of the Billy Goat.  William "Billy Goat" Sianis and his pet goat Murphy were allowed into Wrigley Field for the fourth game of the 1945 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers.  Sianis and the goat made it onto the playing field before ushers intervened and led them to the grandstand aisle.  Billy Goat Sianis maintained that he had two $7.20 box seat tickets and that there was no disclaimer preventing him for using a ticket for his goat.  After a short argument, Sianis and the goat were allowed to occupy the seats for which he had tickets.  Nevertheless, they were later ejected at the command of Cubs' owner Philip Knight Wrigley due to the animal's objectionable odor.  Sianis was furious over the ejection and placed a curse on the Cubs that they would never win a National League pennant or play in a World Series game at Wrigley Field.  The Cubs lost game four and eventually the World Series.  Sianis sent Wrigley a telegram that read, "Who Smells Now!"

Now Lion is there to see what he can do about DaCurse of the Billy Goat. It didn’t work this particular day, but Lion tends to take his time.

The Red Line to Wrigley Field

After lunch and another ritual burning of the “catnip”, it was time to locate the Red Line, which for some unknown reason had been hidden underground, unlike every other train in the loop. But we found it and were off to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field and our appointment with the ivy in right center field.




Wrigley Field

The first order of business was to find a ticket for the bleachers, which considering how the Cubs have been playing, proved to be an easy task. I guess saying that the Cubs are playing badly is magnified by the fact that I bought a $45 bleacher seat, from a ticket scalper, for $40 (insert growling Lion sound). With ticket in hand, the next order of business was to buy a Cubs hat for the occasion in a size 7 3/8”, thank you.

With beer in hand, we were in search of the right seat and, as expected, two were available on the right center field wall, but the Ivy has been trimmed down two feet. Uh,oh. Over the next few innings a plan begins to form, involving all that remains and my new hat. Security seems to be everywhere, but undaunted, plan B commences with two outs in the bottom of the 7th. Lion is transferred into my hat and is held waiting for the seventh inning stretch and the singing of “Take me out to the Ball Game.” As the singing begins, every security guard seems to turn his back to me looking up into the stands and Lion is deposited into the Ivy directly above the numbers in right center field, and I sing with 38,500 of my friends. It is done and I’ve gotten away with it.


As everyone sits and the bottom of the seventh begins I notice a scrum of security guards to my right and I hear them say, “yeh it’s that guy.” As they come my way I grab my back pack and Bluto says, “We’d like to talk to you up there”, pointing to the top of the stands. My seatmates are confused and quickly come to my defense “He didn’t do anything”… by the second step up the stairs Bluto says “Did you just dump ashes into the ivy?” to which I responded “That’s not something that I’d like to admit to”, “But we have witnesses”, “Ok”. I’m thinking; “yea, you probably have 20-30 thousand witnesses.” At the top of the stairs, he’s on the radio and asks for my ticket and ID. The ticket is quickly produced but the ID takes a little digging, while we play a rousing round of “yes sir, no sir”. When I hand him my California driver’s license, everything changes. His eyes soften I can see the tension leave his body, we play a little more “yes sir, no sir”. “We’re going to cut you a break you can go back to your seat”, “I think I need a beer.” He points me in the right direction.

Beer in hand and shit-eating grin on my face I return to my seat. By this point everybody knows why I was removed from the stands and they have a question for me. “WHO?”

So I explain several times about a guy named Kent Nelson, who everyone called the Lion, one of the kindest people ever to roam the Earth. After the telling, the guy sitting next to me turned to his two small boys and said “Remember this for when I’m gone.”



Chevy John