my heroes arent the ones with lots of money or good looks or fancy cars.
they’re idea people. but more, they were convincing enough to get the ideas out there.
one of my heroes is Bill Veeck. Not Bill Sr, but Jr.
Senior was a sportswriter in Chicago almost exactly 100 years ago. In his daily column he would often speculate what he would do if he was running the Cubs. Eventually William Wrigley Jr gave him a shot as Vice President to try out some of those ideas in real life and the Cubs won the NL pennant. So Wrigley made Veeck president of the club where he remained for about 15 years until he died.
Long time readers will remember that I used to write daily blog posts here where I would start off by saying Dear LA Times, you suck…. and I would then give away secrets of how they could improve if only they hired me. Eventually they let me run their blogs and our traffic increased by 2,300% until some genius convinced them that they could do it without me. LOL.
After Veeck Sr. died, his son sold peanuts in the stands at Wrigley Field. 80 years ago today Bill Veeck Jr. got the ear of the Wrigleys and told them about an idea that wouldn’t cost much money but would add a touch of class and uniqueness to the ballpark. The idea was ivy covering the bricks. Which today still grows at the Friendly Confines.
Veeck Jr., would go on to own the crosstown White Sox and there he would let his imagination go wild while innovating baseball — and other sports. He introduced the exploding scoreboard that would shoot off fireworks whenever someone from the home team hit a homer, he put the players names on the back of their jerseys to appease people who didn’t want to buy scorecards, he put a showerhead in left field so people could cool off on hot Chicago afternoons. He even set up a barbershop in the bleachers in Center Field so a man could get a haircut while watching the game.
One of his most overlooked ideas was letting the fans decide if a pitcher should get pulled from the game or if they should put in a pinch hitter.
But maybe the best idea he ever had was hiring the lovably wild Harry Caray as the White Sox’ broadcaster and letting him do whatever the hell he wanted to do, which soon included singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game during the 7th inning stretch.
When Veeck got old he sold the White Sox, he was often seen back across town in the bleachers of Wrigley cheering on the Cubs at the field he grew up in, in the park that he touched in such a beautiful way. He would be seen with his shirt off, in shorts revealing his wooden leg, sipping on an Old Style, just feet away from the ivy that wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for him.
my mom hates driving and hates riding in cars too.
she thinks everyone else on the road are big huge poop monsters and shes possibly right.
so today around lunch time i was all, ma, lets go TO WRIGLEY FIELD
she was like, ABSOLUTELY NOT!
i said, how about if we take Irving Park Road all the way down.
she was like, it’ll still be full of crazy pants fools around Wrigley.
i said, true but i promised this sweet young lady that i would write her dad’s name on the wall at Wrigley where everyones writing the names of their loved ones who didnt get to see the Cubs.
still in the glow of last night’s giant victory my mom caved in and there we were driving the slowest route ever from the suburbs to the Friendly Confines.
once we got there it was awe inspiring.
names everywhere. i guess over 108 years a lot of sweet people came and went. and tragically none of them saw the Cubs win the world series.
so here’s why Cub fans are like no other. there was boxes of chalk everywhere. for free.
and there were lots of parentes with their kids and the kids were waaaay into chalking up the wall, the street, light poles, the curb, their sisters, cops, drunk fratboys passed out in the gutter.
i even saw someone put his grampas name on the shoe of mayor rahm emmanuel.
and because every reachable part of the walls were covered: PEOPLE BROUGHT LADDERS AND LEFT THEM THERE SO THAT OTHERS COULD GET UP HIGH AND PUT MORE NAMES UP THERE.
it was such a beautifully colorful outpouring of love, remembrance, and thanksgiving, i nearly started bawling like a baby, because deep down im just a man on the verge of tears when i think about the Cubs and what it means to so many people in this beautiful city
a city, that by the way, has had the most wonderful weather this week. like warm and rainy at night and sunny in the day. freaky nice.
before we went to Wrigley we visited Harry Caray’s grave in Des Plains. i aint never visited a cemetery to see the headstone of a “celebrity” before, and it was kind of amazing.
little known fact: cemetarys dont give a shit if you visit them. in fact, they welcome it. the doors are open, you can drive around easily. and on Find A Grave .com they even tell you where the famous person’s resting spot is.
mom and i drove around the big cemetery for a while, gawking at the unusually large headstones and i expected a group of people or security or something… but when i saw bushels of green apples i knew we were there.
in a previous photo of harry’s grave i saw like 6 apples on his headstone but as you can see, i was not the first person to go there and say bro, they did it. we are champs. and we are thinking of you!
i brought a bottle of Old Style and decided id set it down next to that pumpkin.
but first my mom took this picture.
the two women that you see in the far left corner saw us coming and gave us some time to read some of the things people had written on apples and signs and bags of Cracker Jacks and when they saw us leaving they headed back to his grave. the women were both wearing Cubs shirts and I tipped my hat to them and we told each other how happy we were and how great Harry was and it was so ridiculously sweet i wanted to hug them.
as we got in the car we saw that they were back in front of his grave, tending to it. chatting.
not leaving any time soon.
and weirdly me and mom didn’t really feel like leaving either.
it was an extremely peaceful, chill spot.
i thought, so is this how its gonna be now?
is life just mellow and beautiful after your biggest dream comes true?
if you know me by now you know im remarkably predictable. i am extremely loyal to the people and things that i love. and if i love you im gonna love you forever and ever, through hell and high water. AC/DC has been in my top ten favorite bands since i first heard “dirty deeds” sneering through my junior high school radio.
so when bob, my friend i’ve known since kindegarden, wrote me to tell me that AC/DC was playing at Wrigley Field, the holiest place i’ve ever been to, i said oh thats nice. he then asked if i wanted a ticket and i hesitated because i had just seen them at Coachella and it was good, but how many times do you have to see them in a year?
the answer is: as many times as they play Wrigley Field, dummy.
so i flew in monday, took a train out of the burbs on tuesday and as i got near the park i texted Bob who was pre-partying with our friend Rick and asked where should i meet you guys.
and bob said, at the corner of clark and addison in front of the Ernie Banks statue
and it was on.
the weather was perfect, none of us had ever looked more handsome. the Cubs were in first place (practically) an angus was about play some of our favorite tunes for us.
rick reminded me that his first concert was with me, my sister, and her friend Nikki – ac/dc’s for those about to rock at the rosemont horizon. and he hadnt seen them since! say what? i had seen them maybe 4-5 other times. maybe more.
and i must say, im super glad Bob motivated and got tickets because this was the best show id seen them do since my first one, Back in Black where my mom just dropped me off alone at the Rosemont, I sat in the 14th row and my soul was saved by rock n roll.
this show, everyone was telling me, was the hottest ticket in chicago. scalpers were getting 2x and 3x the face value. bob joked that we were up in the nosebleeds, but Wrigley is so small that even that was fine. and whats best is the beer vendors are allowed to walk around and serve you at your seats. so when you wanna pee you just pee in the cup and give it back to them. recycling!
jk, you pee on the sox fans.
almost everyone had AC/DC shirts. almost everyone was singing to all of the songs.
almost everyone was drinking a beer out of a cup that said Cubs.
almost everyone was way in to it in a way that i havent seen in a VERY long time in LA.
i mean, 30,000 people totally cheering and singing during the opening tune “Rock Or Bust” the title track off their latest album – which is their 15th studio record
and they were into it
but when it comes to Angus’s guitar solo they cheered even louder.
and it’s not like he’s Miles Davis up there,
for the most part he sticks to the solo you’ve heard on the record.
he might miss a note or two or pluck a string a little early
BUT THATS FINE WITH US WE LOVE WHAT HE DOES
so we buy the tshirts and the records and the concert tickets
and the light up devil horns
and we sing along to the nonsense that doesnt mean anything deep
because when it comes right down to it we’re not all that super fucking deep neither.
turn that shit up!
there was one beautiful exception: Let There Be Rock was insane. Heres a small excerpt
and it was loud. even in the nosebleeds. even across Wrigleyville, home of yuppies and old schoolers who demanded that the show be over at 10pm. fine with us. the concert started early and ended right on time to canons and fireworks.
so thats the good news. the bad news was we could see the hologram of Brian perfectly fine (pictured to the right of the center beer), but the Angus hologram was only working sporadically.
speaking of beers. they had to hide the Old Style! Obama!
someone told me that Budweiser has something to do with it. either the Cubs cut a deal with the beer giant or they lost a bet or something but no vendor could walk around with Old Styles and if you went to the beer stand you had to ASK for it and when you did they cracked open a can and spit in the cup first.
RULES IS RULES they said.
but you know what, Old Style at Wrigley WITH spit is still better than Budweiser out of the tap anywhere. so i happily accepted it and tipped generously.
with that said WHAT THE FUCK WRIGLEY FIELD, does no one stand by their man any more?
afterwards we spilled out into the streets – which were closed to cars and made our way into a nearby bar that let us in free and inside was an AC/DC cover band that played pretty much all the other songs that AC/DC didn’t play at Wrigley and weirdly that was incredibly fun too!
and we met some drunk girls and… Ronnie Woo Woo!
did i mention that everyone had AC/DC shirts and jerseys and baseball gear and drones and homemade clocks ALL with Angus or AC/DC on them? incredible. Chicago I LOVE YOU!
fist of all how many bands can pull out MONSTER hits as song #4 and #10 on the set list and their biggest tune as #12 of a 20-song show? it’s almost as if theyre showing off. it’s almost as if theyre saying oh yeah, well how about this.
only Nirvana buried “Teen Spirit” in weird places in their set list, far as i recall. but everyone else saves the best for last or starts the show with it but usually keeps it for the end because they dont want people running for the exits.
why would you ever want to leave one of the best shows of your life?