Archive for Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sorrentino: Wrigley Field ideal locale for summer getaway

July 11, 2007

An article recently appeared on ESPN.com's Page 2 that documented 101 things all sports fans must experience before they die. The list ranged from acquiring the toughest ticket in American sports (The Masters) to a more frugal option with attending a Little League summer baseball game.

The list had me going through a sequence of thoughts. We've approached the middle of the summer -- prime time for family vacations. I'd venture to guess many families in Tonganoxie will embark on exciting summer expeditions outside the Kansas City area.

With that said, attention, sports fans of Tonganoxie, McLouth and the surrounding areas: If you've taken a vacation this summer as a zealous sports fan, we want to hear from you. The Mirror's new interactive feature, "Summer Sportos," will give the community an opportunity to share its most memorable moments as a fan.

Just within an eight-hour radius, fans near the KC area could visit six Major League ballparks aside from Kauffman Stadium: Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Wrigley Field in Chicago, U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Coors Field in Denver and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.

These trips don't have to be MLB-related, though. Feel free to share stories of other prominent summer sports events you've attended, such as arena football, college baseball, the NBA, NASCAR, tennis matches or soccer matches.

Summer Sportos should e-mail me their photo and a short description of their experience to esorrentino@theworldco.info. I'm also available via phone at the office: (913) 845-2222.

My vision is to talk to Summer Sportos at The Mirror or by phone. I'll include your picture in the paper and write a brief synopsis of the dream adventure.

I'll start the first week of Summer Sportos with my most memorable sports vacation: July 3, 2005, at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Two years ago, I lived in Plano, Texas, for the summer, so visiting college friends in Illinois for a Cubs game seemed like the ideal vacation. I didn't necessarily attend the game as a Cubs fan, as much as I did a baseball fan.

I just wanted to appreciate the 91-year history of the Cubs ballpark. I wanted to view a game where the fans cared about all 399 pitches that were thrown between the Cubs and Washington Nationals in 12 innings that day. Loyal fans occupied every seat at the stadium. All due respect to my hometown Texas Rangers, but that just doesn't happen with regularity in Arlington.

The sunny, 75-degree weather without a cloud in sight didn't hurt, either.

Furthermore, I appreciate quality pitching. Watching Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano -- 74-48 career record, 3.38 career ERA, four straight seasons of 200 innings -- work on the mound was fascinating. It'd be wonderful to see every pitcher have the passion for baseball that Zambrano has.

Washington won, 5-4, in 12 innings, but I'll always keep the ticket that had me sitting in the Wrigley Field bleachers.

ESPN.com had the Wrigley Field experience at No. 22 on its list.

The fact that I'd never visited Chicago before 2005 made the trip even more memorable. Eating at Gino's -- ranked No. 1 by People Magazine for its deep-dish pizza -- was remarkable. I now understand why Chicago, with its population of three million, is the third-largest city in the nation.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience. I can't wait to hear about similar sports experiences from the people of the Tonganoxie area.

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