As the years have passed and I return for yet another Cubs spring training, I realize just how special this whole experience is. Yes, it all revolves around the Chicago Cubs, but for me it’s become far more than that, it’s become the place where I get to see my friends again. Often times, I’ve not seen them for a year, sometimes more, but we pick up as if it’s only been a day’s absence. There is this collective love of baseball and the Cubs that somehow transcends time and distance.
That may sound a bit on the sentimental side, but I have become friends with fans from around the world because of the Cubs and spring training! Including Cubs fans from Paris (who are French, not American ex-pats), Canada, and Sweden, and of course fans from all over the U.S.
On Thursday I renewed my friendship with Peter from Sweden, it was great to see him and his partner Britt. I consider them Cubs good luck charms as their last and only visit to spring training was in 2016. I wrote a blog in the spring of 2016 detailing how Peter became a Cubs fan.
Peter is no lightweight fan, he’s a hard core, Cubs tattoo wearing, watch all the games he can, die-hard! Seeing him and Britt here again makes the superstitious part of my brain think, hmmm, 2016, now 2019…this could be another special Cubs season!
At the Sloan Park home plate gate, I always run into my old pal Mark The Beer Guy. Mark and I go back to Hohokam Stadium, meeting in the spring of 1997. If you’ve been to Sloan Park and haven’t seen Mark, I’d be surprised as he’s 6’8″ and 300 plus pounds. Every year Mark creates a new baseball card and gives them away to beer buying fans. So please stop by the home plate concourse before game time, buy a beer from Mark, get his card and tell him Tim the P.A. guy sent you! Oh, Mark also has a website where you can see all his past cards and other fun stuff.
I’ve met many friends because of my association with the Randy Hundley Fantasy Camp, including my former Hundley camp teammates, Stewart McVicar from Club 400 and his brother Eric. You can visit them tailgating under the Club 400 tent on the west side of Sloan Park, between the stadium and the Under Armour Performance Center. That is where the Cubs players walk towards the ball park on game days. They are all about Cubs fans helping Cubs fans and charitable giving, but they also have a great time doing it! I can’t wait to visit the Club 400 in person this season! FYI, Club 400 is giving away 400 free beers at Sloan Park this spring. As if you needed more reason to stop by their tent!
I did a podcast with the 400 Club last week, please give it a listen. Spoiler alert, you will find out more about me than you ever needed, or wanted, to know.
Great weekend for baseball at Sloan Park, Cubs vs Brewers today and Cubs vs the White Sox on Sunday. Enjoy John Antonoff’s photos from the past couple games. Go Cubs!