By Laurence W. Holmes–
(CBS) It was a crowded L ride from Fullerton (where I parked my car) to the Addison stop on Saturday ahead of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. Rushed and festive is the way that I would describe it, people trying to decide if they wanted to walk up Clark from Belmont. I sometimes get a bit freaked out by crowds, so I waited out the logjam of people descending down the stairs once we made it to Addison and Sheffield. It allowed me the opportunity to snap this shot of the ballpark, neighborhood at sunset ahead of Cubs-Dodgers.
I talked to about a dozen fans on my way into the ballpark, and I would describe the vibe as confident and calm. No one wanted to talk about Game 7, and most people thought it would end Saturday night. I saw plain-clothes Chicago Police Department officers, mounted CPD, officers from Homeland Security and heard rumors of snipers on the roof of Wrigley Field, but I never saw them (which is probably the point). Once I got in, I made my way up to the party deck. It’s one of the best views of the city, but I wanted to know what was happening on Addison and Clark. And it was poppin’!
This is before the game started.
The most interesting thing I saw on the field pregame was that Alfonso Soriano was there. He wanted to see this happen. I always felt like he got a bad rap. He was one of the solid guys to cover of those Cubs team, always accountable even when he didn’t “live up” to his big contract.
Soriano watched the game with Kosuke Fukudome.
It’s a long climb to the press box from the field, but you get a lot of flavor from fans as you make the trek. Right before I made my turn to the press box, I saw this sign:
I got a good chuckle out of it. And it turned out that Clayton Kershaw wasn’t that sharp.
The media overflow seats are in the 503 section. And as I talked with some of my colleagues, the aisles were packed, and it was probably going to take a couple innings to get there. I was lucky — I found a chair in the media work room and just camped out there. Now, you can’t quite feel what’s happening because it’s an enclosed room in the back of the ballpark, but it left me close to the Score booth. That’s where I saw Scottie Pippen roaming the hallways.
Pippen was singing the seventh-inning stretch. Fun fact: Pippen’s my favorite player of all time. He also personalized an autograph on one of my wedding pics. The Cubs people implored him to read from the card, which they provided him, but Pippen was — shall we say “enjoying the night” — which is why the stretch was a bit off.
It was probably the fifth inning when the whole building knew this was going to happen. Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks was locked in, and the Dodgers looked shook. We weren’t going to be allowed on the field for about 15 minutes after, so I took the risk of staying upstairs. I wanted to capture the moment of Pat Hughes calling the last out. It was so loud, you couldn’t hear him in my recording, but if you didn’t get to hear the crowd reaction, you should enjoy this.
Once they opened up the field after the celebration, I sprinted down the ramps to get there. Nobody had left. The party was on. And I wanted to capture as much of this as I could.
What struck me was how personal some of the moments were. I felt like I was intruding, but they were so gorgeous that I wanted to capture them. My favorites were seeing Joe Maddon find his wife, Jaye, with tears coming down his face. He didn’t want to let her go. Dexter Fowler’s daughter came running down the third-base line looking for her dad. It was just adorable.
Fans didn’t want to leave, the party was too good. So I ran out to center field to capture this shot.
That’s when it dawned on me that I’ve covered the Cubs in some capacity for 20 years. I’ve never been that far on the field before. So I took a minute to just be and soak it all in.
The wackiest moment of the night goes to Cubs bullpen catcher Chad Noble. He came out to the field to party. I’ll just leave it at that.
I spent a lot of time talking with my colleagues while in the middle of scattered interviews here and there. Matt Spiegel and I were on the infield and he joked, “You gonna scoop up some dirt?” I told him no, because it’s not my yard.
They had barricades around the park, so I wasn’t sure if or when I was going to get out of there. The party was now raging.
This was my trepidation with covering Game 6 (my whole crowd thing), but I’m glad I did. Most people don’t know that my degree from DePaul is in history. I’m happy that I got the chance to be a witness to it and that I get to share it with you.
Laurence Holmes hosts the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.