For Chicago baseball fans, next year is here.
A new season brings optimism on both sides of town that the Cubs
and Sox will still be playing meaningful games by the time fall
Although no one can predict on-field success for either team
during the 2012 season, you can count on 81-162, if your family has
split allegiances-opportunities to see your family's favorite team
in person at Wrigley Field or U.S. Cellular Field. There are also
plenty of other ways to enjoy the next six months of baseball in
Here's a few to know this year.
Parents, try not to feel too old when you explain to your young
baseball fans that you remember when the new managers on both sides
of town started their respective careers. Popular former Sox third
baseman Robin Ventura takes over on the South Side. He was a
cornerstone of Sox teams during the 1990s along with "The Big Hurt"
New Cubs manager Dale Sveum (pronounced Swaym) never wore Cubbie
blue during his 13-year career that ended in 1999, although he was
a teammate of Ventura's in 1992 with the Sox. Dig around in the
garage enough and you might find some '90s baseball cards of both
players to further date yourself for the kids.
The managers and many of the players might be new in 2012, but
Chicago's baseball stadiums remain tried and true in the terms of
game experience and offerings. Wrigley Field remains just about the
most perfect setting for a baseball game, especially on a summer
day when the kids are out of school. History might not be their
favorite subject to study, but you can charm them with stories
about the players who have graced Wrigley in its 100 years. If that
doesn't work, hang out near the players' parking lot after the game
to try for a few pictures and autographs.
U.S. Cellular Field has plenty to keep the kids entertained even
if the game doesn't keep their attention. Head over to the Comcast
Fundamentals area behind the left field stands to swing a bat or
pick up a few ground balls. Also keep your eyes open for a
something green and furry in a Sox uniform. It's not the team's
fifth starter, it's team mascot Southpaw coming to say hello. If
you're at your child's first Sox game, tell a nearby usher and
they'll usually be able to print up a commemorative certificate
marking the occasion.
Whether you're going North or South for a game, try to get there
early to experience batting practice. It's a chance to get a little
closer to the field and chat up the players. Plus, you could get a
baseball. Young or old, that's still pretty cool.
Watching the game is one thing, playing is another. Both teams
offer their own camps for young players at locations around
Chicagoland throughout the summer.
The White Sox, which operate year-round camps and training
sessions at the Bulls-Sox Academy in Lisle and other locations,
have more than 20 camps scheduled for players 5-11. Camp
participants also get an opportunity for an on-field visit to U.S.
Cellular Field and ticket vouchers for a game.
The Cubs are also offering camps for players 5-13 at six
different locations between June and August. The week-long sessions
include on-field instruction and games, while campers get their own
Cubs uniform and a chance to be on the field at Wrigley as part of
a stadium tour.
More information on camp offerings can be found by going to cubs.com or bullssoxacademy.com, respectively.
Dan Campana is a dad and freelance writer living in Streamwood.
See more of Dan's stories here.
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