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By published March 25, 2024

Every Day is a Beautiful Day for a Ball Game in the Chicago Southland

Spring is a time for budding flowers and more sunshine, but for a lot of individuals - especially those in the Chicago Southland, it’s time for something else... America’s Pastime.

Baseball returns in the spring to green diamonds on community little league fields to Major League stadiums. It’s a time of renewal not just for nature. It’s a blank slate and a hopeful state for fans. 

If you’re visiting the Chicago Southland, you can take in a game of World Championship teams in top notch venues and see some huge young talent with bright futures ahead.

The Windy City ThunderBolts hold three championship titles in the Frontier League.CVB_6022.JPG You’ll see them play at Ozinga Field in Crestwood. This independent league is not specifically affiliated with Major League Baseball, but it’s very similar to a minor league game experience. 

All 30 MLB teams have signed Frontier League players, and the league has signed over 600 former MLB players. So, you’ll get to see some of the best baseball players outside of the MLB - those early in their careers playing their hearts out to get to the next level and those who have had outstanding careers as Major League Players and who aren’t quite ready to retire. The games have fun promotions and make an ideal family outing at a reasonable cost.

One of just a handful of cities to have two MLB teams, Chicago is home to the Chicago White Sox in the American League and the Chicago Cubs in the National League. Each team has a loyal following and fascinating history, and each stadium has a unique vibe and fan experience. 

Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox, was built alongside the former Comiskey Park on Chicago’s South Side and opened in 1991. Be sure to seek out the site of home plate at the old park where a plaque on the ground commemorates the very spot where so many legendary players swing their bat. 

The modern ballpark has a number of fun features - pitching machines, 103 luxuryApril - 2015_0410_White Sox USCF 09-edited.jpg suites, a Kids Zone, a taproom and 10 sculptures of significant figures in the White Sox organization. When the old ballpark was torn down in 1990, the last thing left standing was the “exploding scoreboard” installed in 1960 that had nine pinwheels that would light up and spin and shoot fireworks when a player hit a home run. A new and improved exploding scoreboard can be found at Guaranteed Rate Field where fireworks still blast each time a White Sox player knocks one out of the park. 

It was also at the Old Comiskey Park where the tradition of singing “Taking Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th inning stretch was initiated in the 1970s by broadcaster Harry Caray, who later continued the tradition with the Chicago Cubs.

The Chicago White Sox, which was known early on as the Chicago White Stockings, won the World Series most recently in 2005, as well as in 1906 and 1917. 

On the North Side of Chicago sits Wrigley Field, which has stood at 1060 West Addison Street since 1914, making it the second oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. Known as the “Friendly Confines,” a nickname credited to Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks, it has a number of longtime features that give a nostalgic feel to a day at the ballpark. 

Wrigley Field was the last MLB ballpark to add lights, so up until 1988 all of theWrigley.png games were day games, and they still play more day games than any other team. The Cubs were the first major league team to introduce live organ music in 1941 and it’s still a part of every outing.

The main entry sign is a red, art deco-style marquee that was installed in 1934 and has become a recognizable symbol of the team, along with its hand-turned scoreboard that debuted in 1937 and is still operated manually to this day.

Also introduced in 1937 was ivy that clings to the brick outfield walls. It became such a part of the landscape that when the MLB instituted rules that all outfield walls had to be padded, Wrigley Field was grandfathered in. It’s the only MLB stadium without padded walls and a ball that gets lost in the ivy is called a ground-rule double if a player doesn’t attempt to retrieve it. 

All those nostalgic touches make for a baseball fan experience like no other - especially when the Cubs get a win, and you can join in a chorus of the song “Go Cubs Go” at the end and watch the W flag be raised over the scoreboard.

Another unique feature of Wrigley Field is that it is situated in a neighborhood, not surrounded by parking lot, so after a game you can walk a few steps and linger at the restaurants and bars that make up “Wrigleyville.”

The Cubs are three-time World Champions, after back-to-back World Championships in 1907 and 1908 and then in 2016. The Cubs have had the longest championship drought in baseball history. The White Sox had the second.

For the Windy City ThunderBolts, the season begins on May 9 as they play the Evansville Otters and finishes on August 31.

The White Sox season begins at home on March 28 against the Detroit Tigers and the season wraps up on September 26. 

The home opener for the Chicago Cubs is April 1 vs. the Colorado Rockies and the season closes out on the final weekend of September. 

With a lot of hard work from the players and coaching staff and some finger crossing and wishing and help from the baseball gods, we may be lucky enough to see baseball being played in October. It’s happened before and will happen again.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. For now, bundle up, head to your favorite ballpark, grab some peanuts and cracker jacks and root, root, root for your favorite team.  


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