The continuing story of my baseball tour: Guaranteed Rate Field
I want to start this blog by saying I am a very lucky guy. Not only did I marry a great woman who loves me, cooks amazing dinners, and takes very good care of me, I married a woman who likes sports. A lot of women say they like sports in order to fit in with the guy they are in love with, but my wife actually lives up to her sports fanaticism. One of the first conversations we had was about sports. Baseball is at the center of what brought up together. We even have the baseball themed wedding rings to prove it. One thing that came out of those early dating/relationship conversations was touring all of the baseball stadiums. This is one of those things that people say, but a lot of times don’t get around to doing. Four years and fifteen stadiums later, I can confirm that we are following through on the baseball stadium tour dream.
If I had known back then that we were really going to do this, I would have started this blog a long time ago. However, the only thing I can say at this point is “there is no time like the present”. Before I get to the present, let’s go back to the past. A few years ago, in order to expand on seeing more stadiums beyond the mid-atlantic, I came up with the idea to go on a road trip to see stadiums in Cincinnati, St Louis, and Kansas City. This trip coincided with a concert to see one of our favorite singers Billy Joel in Kansas City. Minus the exhaustion of driving so many hours across country, this trip was a huge, fun success. Although we weren’t able to do a trip like this again last year, we both knew that we wanted to keep the dream alive and continue seeing as many ballparks as we could. Based on our schedules and the MLB schedule, we decided to dedicate a week to seeing stadiums in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minnesota. The only difference this time is the fact that we flew to Chicago instead of driving. This paid off tremendously as I can confirm that our energy levels and enthusiasm remained intact for the whole trip.
As for Guaranteed Rate Field itself, I can start by saying that it was exactly what I expected and exceeded my expectations all at the same time. It is my guess that when this ballpark was built, they did everything they could to emulate all of the things that made Comiskey Park great while also trying to modernize it as well. One feature of every ballpark that I look for is how close am I to the game? Do I feel like I am on the field with the players? Thankfully we were given two opportunities to test this theory out. On the first night, we sat out in right field along the first baseline near the foul pole. It was a very cool experience that provides some intimacy that is missing from some ballparks, but much more present in others. However, that opinion was about to change as we sat in the left field bleachers for the sunday game. To be honest, I think sitting in the outfield bleachers is one of the best ways to test your closeness to the game. Although saturday night’s seats were great, I really felt like our bleacher seats on sunday made me feel like I was on the field with the players. I love having that feeling at the game. At this point, I am not going to become a major leaguer so this is the next best thing. Even the infield gave me a sense of closeness from the outfield. Minus some of the rain we experienced, this was a great place to sit and watch a baseball game.
What else can you experience at Guaranteed Rate Field? You would like to think that we would have taken in every experience we could, but we did walk around enough to get a good feel for it. There is actually much more to do than I anticipated. There are plenty of stores around, including a rather large Chicago Sports Depot that had free t-shirts waiting for us thanks to the MLB Ballpark app check-in giveaway. If you can’t attend a game without eating a hot dog, then Guaranteed Rate Field has you more than covered. Although it’s not quite the best hot dog i’ve eaten on our travels, the Comiskey Dog is worth the price of admission. It is loaded with a large pickle, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and mustard. It looks a bit overwhelming and can be sloppy, but is worth all of the mustard stains and dropped pickles you experience. You can buy a regular sized dog for seven bucks or a rather large one for ten bucks. We chose to stay in the seven dollar range. We were also able to buy a souvenir cup of soda which is very important to those of us who are looking for the “small things” in life that we can latch commemorate our experiences with. There is even fast pitch game that allows you to win a prize if you guess the speed of your last pitch. I would reveal how fast my pitches were, but I will just say I am not quite in major league form!
The only thing that is truly missing from this ballpark is a Hall of Fame area. If there was one, we missed it. Minus a few statues here inside and outside of the ballpark, there really aren’t a lot of references to the long and storied history of this franchise. This is very surprising considering how far back the history goes. I’ve seen much more history on display for teams that only have half of the history the White Sox do. Guaranteed Rate Field is very spacious. There is plenty of room to walk around and experience the ballpark. In my opinion, there is plenty of room to fit an area dedicated to the rich history of this franchise. I think this is one aspect of the experience they are missing out on. This would greatly enhance what is already a great baseball experience.
My wife and I were not anticipating on visiting this ballpark twice, but we had legitimate concerns about missing out on this experience due to the weather forecast. It already took us so long to see Chicago at all so we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss out. I’m actually glad we did get to see this one twice. Not only did we enjoy some midwest American League baseball between the White Sox and Tigers, we also got to feel the intensity and busyness of the concourse area. We had our very first fireworks night at a ballpark. Although we are not big Star Wars fans, we did enjoy the fireworks theme itself as it was very impressive. It was an experience filled with fun little surprises, a frantic, busy atmosphere, and a better than expected experience watching the game. Although Wrigley Field is a classic ballpark that most people would think to visit first while in Chicago, don’t miss out on the chance to see Guaranteed Rate Field too. It is a much better experience than you might realize.