At the time, Wrigley Field had no lights, so games were played during the day. Elia said that 85 percent of the world worked during the day and the other 15 percent came to Wrigley.
More than 30 years later, the Wrigley Field bleacher seat experience is very different than it was during the Elia era. Weekday-afternoon games are far less common, and bleacher seats, once the cheapest tickets in the house, are now among the most expensive (starting at $28). Why has demand soared for these seats at Chicago's venerable old ballpark, which turned 100 this season?
Your bleacher seat is just a spot on a bench with no back beyond the ivy-adorned outfield wall, so don’t expect comfort or the best vantage point. But with the Cubs in the midst of a century-plus title drought, many fans turn up at Wrigley simply to soak up some rays and for the party. For them, there is no better place to be than in the bleachers.
1) Bleacher seating is unassigned, so come early. Gates open 2 hours before first pitch.
2) If you want a seat with some support, make a beeline for the last rows, where you can lean against the back wall.
3) If you catch a home run hit by a Cub, keep it. If a player on the visiting team hits one, you’ll incur the wrath of your fellow fans if you don’t immediately throw it back on the field.
Unlike most of the rest of the stadium, the bleacher seats receive direct sunlight, and there’s a spirit of camaraderie, a communal vibe that comes with sharing a bench with your neighbors. It isn’t hard to find Chicagoans, including Tom Ricketts, the owner of the team, who met their spouse in the bleachers.
The Bleacher Bum era at Wrigley is long gone, but if you sit beneath the iconic 1937 hand-operated scoreboard on a weekday afternoon and stay until the late innings, when the swirling seagulls outnumber the fans, you’ll feel like you’re in a timeless place, a refuge immune to the pressures and stress of the modern world. A place where, as the song goes, you won’t care if you never get back.
Dave Seminara is a journalist and former diplomat based in Chicago. He grew up rooting for the Yankees, when they were terrible, and gradually grew to despise them after they signed a host of loathsome free agents and started winning in the late 90s. Seminara roots for the Cubs and the White Sox and insists that this is nothing to be ashamed of.
MORE SUMMER TRAVEL QUESTS
11) Sit in the Bleachers at Wrigley Field