I’m truly thankful this year
I found out what heaven is like — four guys decked out in Kansas City Royals gear at Wrigley Field.
Heading into the holidays, that’s what I’m most thankful about this year. It turned into the best Father’s Day I’ve ever had.
My son Brett was doing the first half of his summer internship with a Chicago law firm. So, for the first time ever, he wouldn’t be here for Father’s Day. We’d been talking about coming up there to see Chicago and take in a Chicago Cubs game at iconic Wrigley Field — two things I’ve always wanted to do, but never had.
We put two and two together and decided to delay Father’s Day until July 13, when the Cubs were home playing the San Francisco Giants. Second son Anthony was all for it and my “third son,” Tyler Trowbridge wanted in on it, too. Road trip.
We flew in on a Friday night and I took my first-ever taxi ride. Wow! That was certainly interesting — and hair-raising. Brett had Chicago style pizzas delivered and we ate those, toured the nightlife near his apartment and talked about the game.
I wasn’t sure about the Royals gear thing. I thought maybe they were setting me up. So, I’d brought along a couple of options. There was my classic powder blue Royals jersey from the 1985 World Series win. I also had a dark blue “Royals 1985 Champions” t-shirt that I thought could pass for a Cubs shirt if I was in a bind.
But, sure enough, they were doing the Royals gear. And both Brett and Anth — who had both always had designs on my powder blue jersey — went wild over my championship t-shirt. They’d never seen it and didn’t know I had it.
So, it was decided there and then that when I “pass on,” Anth gets the powder blue and Brett gets the championship t-shirt. For the hallowed Chiefs gear, Anth gets my Marcus Allen jersey and Brett gets my Zubas pants.
Enough talk of death. We were there to have fun — and we did, lots of it.
We headed to Wrigleyville the next morning, had lunch at a place just across the street and then headed in. Wow. Unbelievable. No matter how many times you’ve seen it on TV, there’s just no way to experience Wrigley Field without being there. It’s a fabulous venue.
We had great seats and everyone around us loved the Royals gear. In fact, there was only one person who said anything bad. That was a drop-dead gorgeous young blonde woman as we were heading to the stadium. She hollered “Royals stink,” or words to that effect. Brett didn’t hesitate a second and hollered back, “You’re ugly.” Classic.
The game was great and the Cubs were winning. Then it was time for the fabled seventh-inning stretch where a celebrity leads the crowd in singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” I had gone to use the facilities and as I was walking out they announced that Dick Butkus was the celebrity. Oh, my God! Butkus is my all-time favorite football player and the greatest middle linebacker to ever play the game. As I stood not 30 yards from him I was in awe. I couldn’t believe it.
When I got back to the seats, the sons said, “Dad, you missed Dick Butkus.” I said, oh, no, I didn’t. I was standing just yards from him. It’s how the whole trip went. Everything was perfect.
The Cubs won in extra innings which really had Wrigleyville going crazy. We went to the Cubbie Bear, which is right across the street. Unbelievable. It’s a huge building with no tables, no chairs, just wall-to-wall people dancing and having fun. We all sang the Cubs song. You just have to experience it.
We went to various other Wrigleyville places and took all the standard pictures. Later, we took a taxi downtown and went to several places there, including the place that was the inspiration behind Saturday Night Live’s classic skit, “Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, coke, coke.” It also happened to be the hangout of my all-time favorite columnist, Mike Royko. There’s a shrine to him there. Again, unbelievable. The day and night were perfect.
Sunday morning we went downtown again and looked at the sights and went to see Brett’s office. Then it was back in the taxi to the airport and the flight back. Everything was perfect and I don’t ever remember a trip like that where at least something didn’t go wrong. It didn’t.
As we were waiting at the airport for the shuttle bus, Anth said it best. “Happy Father’s Day, dad.” It was — the best I’ve ever had.