I love our family vacations.
We made sure to get a final one in last week before our twins started band camp and their senior year of high school.
The good news with my family is they don’t mind having a portion of the vacation dedicated to a sporting event or three.
Last week our vacation included a trip to Chicago and a first-ever visit to Wrigley Field.
It was daughter Sarah’s idea. Even though I have never been to the historic ball yard, watching two underachieving teams play in the Cubs and Brewers, in 100-degree temperatures, really didn’t excite me.
Maybe I am getting older and that was the reason. But we went anyway.
We took the subway from our hotel and came to the back of Wrigley. I loved the seats constructed on top of the apartments on Waveland Avenue. I started getting excited just being outside the stadium.
That would change in a hurry when I was approached by scalpers trying to sell me tickets.
My daughters don’t like me “negotiating” with people they call “lowlifes.” They would rather have me purchase the tickets ahead of time, no matter the price. However, people who know me have seen mothballs come out when I have actually opened my wallet and know I am always looking for the best ticket for the cheapest price.
“Where you from?” the scalper asked.
“Lima, Ohio,” I said proudly.
“Oh, that’s in northeast Ohio. I know exactly where that is. I am a big Ohio State fan. Here’s my card,” he exclaimed.
It was a ticket promoting his company that sells tickets to college and pro sporting events and had the Ohio State logo on it, too.
Wait a minute. The guy said Lima was in Northeast Ohio? Hello.
“How much you want to spend today, my friend.”
Now we are suddenly friends.
Before I could stammer out a figure, he tells me he has a great deal “for a fellow Buckeye fan.”
“I got seats right behind home plate on the second level. They are $50 dollars each. I will give them to you for $40 each.”
“I will give you $30 each,” I countered.
“Oh, you drive a hard bargain, Buckeye guy. O.K., because it’s your special day, you got a deal,” he retorted.
I was really proud of myself — $50 dollar seats for only $30 dollars.
Until I walked up the Wrigley Field steps to my seats and stared at the pole in front of me.
Actually the seats were decent, and the pole you could look around and still see home plate, except for wife Holly.
But it was great being at Wrigley Field. The manual scoreboard, the ivy on the outfield fence, the organ playing during the game, the seats atop the Waveland Avenue apartments outside Wrigley and Bob Uecker singing the celebrity “Take me out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.
But as great as it was being at Wrigley, I would take a visit to Cleveland and Jacobs, uh, Progressive Field anytime.
The wife and I finished up our week’s vacation Saturday in Cleveland. We saw the Browns scrimmage in the afternoon and the Indians game at night.
I got emotional just walking into Progressive Field remembering all of the great games I saw there during the ’90s when the Indians were actually relevant. It was a night they would honor one of the Tribe’s best players ever in outfielder Kenny Lofton, inducting him into their Hall of Fame.
It was like a flashback for me. Kenny Lofton, Sandy Alomar Jr., Charlie Nagy and Jim Thome were there — all significant players during that great Indians run. There was actually a big crowd at the ballpark, too.
I started to get emotional again when Lofton walked in from the outfield fence to a standing ovation.
Our seats were, would you believe, six rows behind the Indians on-deck circle and free for me thanks to our friends, the Simmers. I was in heaven.
Until the game got out of hand and the Indians lost.
Reality had set in. Vacation was officially over.
It meant back to work for me and Holly.
It meant back to school for the twins.
It meant back to small crowds and bad baseball by the Indians.
But I still can’t wait for my next vacation.
(You can comment to Koza at email@example.com or call his nightly sports talk show now that he is working again)
Vince Koza: Hard to admit, Bengals are impressive