The book is titled “Wrigleyworld – A Season in Baseball’s Best Neighborhood”. It was written during the 2005 Cubs season, and was published in 2006. The author is Kevin Kaduk, who was 26 years old when he lived his dream.
And I can relate. For a few years, in my late twenties, I lived a dream which included time well spent on the periphery of Wrigleyville. But that’s another story for another time.
A testimonial on the back cover tells us what we are in for:
- “Most baseball books – especially most baseball books about the Chicago Cubs – are written by old men, waxing poetic about a boring, pastoral America that never really was. Now, finally, a young man has written a young man’s baseball book….Kaduk celebrates the real reasons we love the game: beer, broads, and a scalped seat in the bleachers.” – Chris Jones, Esquire
The last paragraph of the inside back jacket cover adds:
- “So crack open a cold one, and get ready to experience the true adventures of Kevin Kaduk – a man who took himself out to the ball game, bought himself some peanuts and Cracker Jack…and never came back.”
I think it would be fair to describe this book as “Go Cubs Go” meets “I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell”. I mean that in a good way.
The opening pages include a map of Wrigley Field and the immediate surrounding area. My attention was drawn to the triangular “Players’ parking lot/proposed site for parking garage/Cubs museum” between Clark St. and Wrigley. I’m no expert but it occurs to me that perhaps a transportation center for buses, taxis, limos, neighborhood shuttles, bikes, rickshaws and even horsies might be a better use for that space.
Couldn’t a “players’ parking lot” be better located a few blocks away? I mean we are talking summertime here.
I’m all for a Cubs museum if the tourists want it, but wouldn’t a remote location like the Field Museum Campus, for instance, be a better choice? Or under the “L” tracks? On Michigan Avenue? Up at Lake Geneva? Online maybe? Just askin’.
It occurred to me that Kevin is describing the lifestyle of precisely the type of Cub fans that Barack Obama has spoken about derisively. Of course, it must be noted that Mr. Obama is the self proclaimed Southsider who referred to Sox Park as “Kaminsky Field” – forever labeling himself as “NOT FROM HERE”! !
The author does include, woven throughout the book, lessons in “How to Scalp the Scalpers”, which is nice.
Our twenty something tour guide displays wisdom beyond his years as he describes the phenomenon whereby Cub fans feel they have personally “jinxed” the outcome of a game just by tuning in, or by going to the game.
Mr. Kaduk provides a bevy of Illinois/Wisconsin stories and jokes, all funny and all true. He also clarifies the love/hate relationship between Chicagoans and Cheeseheads.
Speaking of which, the author seems to have an affinity for (or maybe it’s just a familiarity with) folks whose history includes time spent at U.W. Madison or Southern Illinois (SIU). There is a common denominator there.
Let me share a Charles Bukowski quote from the book:
- “That’s the problem with drinking…, if something bad happens, you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens, you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens, you drink to make something happen.”
The author describes a summer road trip, a whirlwind research tour encompassing six ballparks (and six ball games) in seven days. His research produced the following opinion about Yankee Stadium:
- “There’s no frat party in the stands like at Wrigley….These people aren’t here for the stadium, they’re not here for the bars, and they’re not here to have a good time. They’re here to watch baseball.”
Mr. Kaduk characterizes Wrigley Field as “home of a team that established the market on style over substance.”
I enjoyed reading “Wrigleyworld” and I recommend it highly. I have to say that while reading, I was continually reminded of the axiom: “Youth is wasted on the young.” And I mean that in a good way.