Baseball season is under way and I’m excited to be able to spend a few days each season at Wrigley Field, which is truly my very favorite place. The second I step through the gates, the rest of the world melts away and for three hours I feel so relaxed and free. I guess that’s because it takes me back to my youth when I’d spend summer days listening to Harry Caray and worshiping that remarkable 1984 team.
A co-worker texted me last week to let me know he had tickets to a Cubs game and wanted to see if I wanted them. My initial reaction was that I had too much work to do and shouldn’t go. But, these were free tickets. And they were playing the Cardinals, one of their biggest rivals. And they were awesome seats. And it was a beautiful day. I put everything on hold and decided to go. And I’m so glad I did.
Those tickets turned out to be front row seats behind the visiting dugout and I ended up seated next to “Dorothy.” For those who are more than casual fans and who either watch most of their games on WGN or hang out at the ballpark often, they’ll likely recognize Dorothy. She’s the female counterpart of Ronny Woo Woo, the quintessential super fan (but without the annoying chanting Ronny is known for.)
Dorothy Farrell has been sitting in the same seat — a single end of the row seat just behind the first base line — for 29 years. Having her as a companion while you watch the game is quite entertaining. In between each inning, Dorothy gets out of her seat and scans the crowd. Everyone seated around her knows her and chats with her. She reaches in her purse and exchanges photos of her grandkids with the other regulars. The vendors come up and hug her as if she’s a member of their family.
She not only gives a commentary to those sitting around her, but she comments to the opposing team’s players as they head back to the dugout. When they don’t respond, she talks about how the game has changed and how players of the past would always interact with her. She shows no mercy to the umpires upon a bad call. And from her vantage point, she gets a pretty good look at where the ball is going or if the guy was really out at first.
It happened to be Dorothy’s birthday. I tried to buy her a drink. I tried to buy her a hot dog. So did several others. She refused. But she wasn’t shy about revealing her age and at 87, she was doing the YMCA with the best of them. Birthday wishes were pouring in from everyone around — fans, employees, management. The camera guy popped his head up to let her know they’d mentioned her birthday on the air. She was enjoying every minute of it.
Although the Cubs lost, it’ll go down as one of my most memorable visits to my favorite place on earth.