My brother and his family were in town from Toronto these past couple weeks, and prior to his trip, he told me of one of his plans for the upcoming visit.
"I'm taking Layla (his 6-year-old daughter) to her first Cubs game. It's time," he said in a Facebook Messenger chat.
He invited me to go along with he and his wife, so this past Wednesday, after shuffling around my schedule a bit, off we went to Wrigley.
I have no idea if my niece will grow up to care much about baseball, but I'm pretty confident she'll remember this day. First, my brother will do his fatherly duty and make sure she's raised as a Cubs fan, even though she lives in Blue Jays country. But more than that, there's just something about The Friendly Confines. I remember most of my trips there, but certainly I recall the first.
It was June 12, 1989 (thanks to www.baseball-reference.com for the assist on the exact date), and I was 9 years old. I remember earlier in the week, my dad called and asked if I wanted to go see Rick Sutcliffe pitch.
I'm not sure what I said, but I remember being excited beyond belief. It was going to be Cubs-Cardinals (just like Layla's first game).
When we got to the park, though, we found out there'd be no Sutcliffe. Instead, a young relief pitcher named Steve Wilson was headed to the bump in place of Sutcliffe, who missed a start with a lingering back injury, which he reportedly might have suffered while cleaning out his garage.
Only the Cubs.
Anyway, it was comfortably one of the best days of my youth. The Cubs won 10-3, Ryne Sandberg homered. I even saw the great Vince Coleman steal a base (which my dad totally predicted would happen — I thought he was some kind of wizard).
Of course, that Cubs team, led by manager Don Zimmer, went on to win the division before losing to Will Clark and the Giants in the playoffs.
Layla's first Cubs game was more dramatic, but ended up on the wrong side of the win-loss column. Jason Hammel left the game after one inning with a hamstring injury (no word on any garage-cleaning activities) and the Cubs were down 4-0 early. They stormed back, though, to take a 5-4 lead, on the heels of Miguel Montero's three-run double.
Then, in the 9th, with two outs and two strikes on Jhonny Peralta, Pedro Strop gave up a stomach-punch, go-ahead, two-run homer and the Cardinals' won 6-5.
I've had a lot of great moments in that park, but it's pretty safe to say I now have a definitive worst moment.
But, Layla had a great time. Heck, we even made it on TV during Peter Gammons' rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".
It was an unforgettable night, and not just for the negative reason with Peralta's homer. It's always fun to be a part of someone's first Wrigley experience.
Later this year, I'll become a father. Taking my child to Wrigley for the first time? Well, that'll be hard to top.
Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at email@example.com or 1-219-214-4170.