Only in Wrigleyville
It turns out I’m not alone.
Countless New Yorkers were
already spilling in and out of Wrigleyville’s bars and pubs by the time I got
outside, some boasting Yankees jerseys and others siding with the Mets. Unlike
at Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium, where fans don’t generally linger too long
before heading inside to take their seats, the fans outside of Wrigley relax
here for hours.
“Wrigley Field is the world’s
biggest beer garden,” Alex Peters, a bouncer outside of Harry Caray’s Tavern
told me. “You can’t beat a town that loves baseball this much.”
I couldn’t argue. Instead, I
headed inside the tavern, where Cubs fans were everywhere. Some sat at tables,
while others stood behind the bar, gazing at one of nearly 30 flat screen
televisions, each of them showing baseball highlights from the previous night.
Harry Caray’s opened just a few
weeks ago, changing its name from Hi-Tops to honor the legendary Cubs
broadcaster. It’s a Chicago
destination in its own right, though while I weaved through the bar, I couldn’t
help but notice some East Coast representation. Plenty of New Yorkers had made the
trip out here, too, and I stumbled across one of them — Justin Shibilski, 31
of Aurora, Ill. — staring at some Cubs paraphernalia
on the wall.
“I’m a huge Yankee fan,” he said,
while his girlfriend, Amy Chatt, walked up by his side. Chatt was a Cubs fan
born and raised in Illinois,
so for one day, they both could be pleased.
“When I first saw the schedule
come out, we noticed this date right away,” Shibilski said. “I said, ‘Honey,
we’ve got to go.’ It’s great because I hate the Mets, and she loves the Cubs.”
Back in the center of the room, a
group of nine New York
fans — some for the Yankees, others for the Mets — gathered for the third day
of a three-day bachelor party.
Dave Piacente, 30, of Montauk,
N.Y., was the groom-to-be. Despite having few connections to the city, he knew
exactly how he wanted to spend his Tuesday morning.
“Tell Major League Baseball that
doing things like this gets people to go to games,” one of his friends, Jake
Williams, 31, also of Montauk, said. “We could have gone anywhere for this
bachelor party, but this made us want to go to Chicago.”
They were everywhere, in every
corner of every bar, from Harry Caray’s to Murphy’s Bleachers to the Cubby Bear
on Addison St. Even adding to the excitement was the knowledge that while the
Yankees and Mets each continued to hold legitimate hopes of playing into October, the White
Sox and Cubs were also thriving. Entering Tuesday’s play, those two Chicago teams sat in
first place simultaneously for the first time since May 23, 2004.
Suffice it to say, there was more
was at stake here than simple civic pride.
That’s why when another pair of
fans waltzed out of Harry Caray’s, one of them — Nick Giampietro, 50, of
Howard Beach, N.Y. — drew attention for all of his Mets attire.
“I’m the pin man,” he said,
I took the bait.
“The pin man?” I asked.
He opened his wallet, producing a
picture of the jersey he wears to about 40 Mets home games each season. It was
covered with pins depicting Mets past and present — 220 of them in all — in a
tribute he’s been wearing on his shoulders for three years now.
“He’s a budding celebrity,”
cracked his brother, Robert Giampietro.
Perhaps in New York. But on this day, here in Cubs
country, he was the enemy.