It is, once again, opening day at Wrigley Field, regardless of the gray and the gloom of the weather. Professional baseball is being played in what is considered by some as the most haunted major league baseball park in nation.
The sightings and stories are too numerous to share in total, but I will highlight a few of my favorites.
First, of course, are the rumors of Steve Goodman haunting the friendly confines. Steve Goodman is the grammy award winning songwriter who wrote the Arlo Guthrie hit “The City of New Orleans”, and was famous on the North Side for “Go Cubs Go” and “A Dying Cub’s Fan Last Request.”
A year and a half after releasing this song, on September 20th 1984, Goodman died. 11 days before the Chicago Cubs made their first post-season appearance in 40 years. Although published reports that Goodman’s ashes were buried at home plate have not ever been confirmed by the Cubs organization, Steve has been sighted dozens of time in the seats behind home plate. Go Cubs go, indeed.
Former player and manager Charlie Grimm also had his ashes buried in a box in left centerfield.
Grimm has been seen or felt all over the park, and his presence is testified to by some of Wrigley Field’s most tenured employees. He has been accused of turning on lights, storming through the front offices, whispering people’s names in empty hallways, and most eerily, calling the bullpen phone, which is located near the ashes, in the middle of the night. The phone is a direct line from the dugout. It cannot be dialed by an outside line.
And last, but most certainly not least, I will leave you with this thought. Soon after the passing of our friend and namesake, Ray Wild, Four Moon Tavern proprietor Matt Kozlowski took up the charge of handling his ashes.
After putting some aside for future plans (such a sprinkling of Ray for good luck before the premiere of our inaugural production, The Great God Pan), he began the process of honoring Ray’s wishes. After some experimentation, he devised the idea of cutting open tennis balls, and filling them up with Ray, and then gently taping them closed again. Not too tight, for they needed to pop open upon impact for maximum Ray-spread. He then went out to the park, and threw Ray over the outfield wall. He threw him on the field, he threw him on the bleachers. He threw him wherever he could. I asked him how many balls of Ray he threw, and he said “A lot. Ray was a big guy.” When I asked him if he thought Ray might be wandering the bleachers, he said "Sure, why not. I know one thing, Corey Patterson sure got a huge mouthful of Ray the next day." I did not ask him to elaborate.
So, the next time you head out to the park, take a moment and look around. Look for Steve, singing “Go Cubs Go” behind home plate. Listen for that bullpen phone ringing, and wonder who is really on the other line. Or look for a tall distinguished gentleman with a wild shock of white hair, in the bleachers rooting for his Cubbies to break that 101 year curse. If you see him, raise your beer and drink a toast, for you will have seen The Claw.
Now, play ball.