The little field that could
Thursday, May 08, 2008
It’s a dream for many baseball-loving kids—and adults—to play in their home team’s ballpark, running the bases, hitting a home run, sitting in the dugout. For Denny Garkey, his dream was simply to make his own field of dreams in the small town of Freeport. "It’s as close as you’re going to get to the field of dreams, but I didn’t hear any voices," Garkey says.
The history of baseball runs thick in Wrigley Field, a tradition carried on within the confines of Little Cubs Field. It took 18,500 bricks, $120 in coffee and doughnuts and countless hours by more than 1,000 volunteers to bring Garkey’s dream to reality. Almost every part of the field was donated—from the bricks to the ivy plucked straight from the walls of Wrigley.The replica ballpark includes the famous green scoreboard with team pennants, perfectly colored red bricks, the signature marquee in the front of the building and 30 other items inspired by Wrigley Field, but shrunk down to Little League size. Most of the parts that make up the miniature version of the Friendly Confines are either made by the same company as the originals or come directly from the field itself.
When the Chicago Cubs gave Garkey and his group, the non-profit Friends of Little Cubs Field, a private tour of Wrigley Field, he measured bat racks, matched the colors and took photos.
"There’s nothing we didn’t get. I’m a stickler for detail." Garkey even had Marya Veeck, the daughter of Bill Veek, who was responsible for the original ivy in Wrigley Field, out to plant the ivy in Little Cubs Field.
The Cubs, Garkey says, have been very supportive.
"A half a dozen or more players … got to go out and they loved the field," says Mike Lufrano, senior vice president, community affairs/general counsel for the Chicago Cubs.
Entry to Little Cubs Field is free, but rentals are available for $35 an hour. Ultimately Garkey hopes non-profit groups will use Little Cubs Field for fundraisers.
"I’ve never grown up, I don’t intend to," he says. He hopes fans of the field won’t either, which is why the field’s motto is, "No one will be allowed to leave without having fun."Little Cubs Field is located in Read Park, 1160 W. Empire St., Freeport. For information and upcoming events or to learn how to help Little Cubs Field, visit www.littlecubsfield.com.