Show me the ivy - Greg Gelpi

While some dream of endless sandy shorelines and others long for thriving metropolises, visions of ivy-covered brick walls have always danced in my mind.

Perhaps dreaming and longing are too strong, but I'm a Chicago Cubs fan, always have been and most likely always will be. Despite that, Friday will be my first sojourn to the Windy City and my first trip to the "friendly confines" of historic Wrigley Field.

As with many images beamed across the Technicolor television waves and illustrated in books and magazines, I'm anxious to see with my own eyes if the ivy is really that green and anxious to check out the shores of Lake Michigan from the upper levels of Wrigley.

I've only been to a handful of Major League Baseball games in my life, but my mind refuses to believe that the crack of the bat resonates the same way at Wrigley Field as it did at the Houston Astrodome.

Growing up in Louisiana where professional baseball means backing our LSU Tigers, I admittedly fell under the spell of the media barrage of the Chicago Cubs as they were broadcast to the nation regularly.

Long before satellite television and dozens of channels dedicated solely to the boys of summer, there were the Cubs and the Atlanta Braves playing before national audiences thanks to WGN and TBS television stations.

But, it's been more than that.

The only professional sports team in Louisiana when I was a child was the New Orleans Saints, which holds the dishonorable distinction of never quite winning the big one. The story is much the same for the Chicago Cubs (at least for the last 100 years).

"There's always next year," as Saints and Cubs fans recite year in and year out. Call me overly optimistic, though, as I'm that guy who clings to hope until the last day of the season even when my beleaguered Cubs find themselves 10 games out of first place.

I can recall the afternoons I'd come home from school to watch Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace, Shawon Dunston and Andre Dawson take the field, and I also recall the same optimism I held for each game as if each win held some special meaning.

It may have taken until well into my college years for me to discover that the words to "Take me out to the ball game" didn't include "root for the Cubbies."

Whether it was the joy of witnessing the list of television channels grow from the three networks or the joy at watching America's pasttime live, I was immediately taken in, and that experience pulled me and many friends into the hobby of baseball card collecting.

For me, Friday's trip will be more than a trip across the county. It will be a trip across time, a return to my childhood back in Baton Rouge.

Marty McFly may need a DeLorean outfitted with a flux capacitor, but all I need is AirTran and tickets to a Cubs game.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.