In a memorable tirade back in 1983, Cubs manager Lee Elia called the Bleacher Bums who showed up for weekday matinees (there was no night baseball at Wrigley until 1988) “nickel dime people” who “don’t even work.” “Eighty-five percent of the [expletive] world is working,” he raved. “The other 15 come out here. A [expletive] playground for the [expletive].”
A lot has changed since then—the old ballpark that was thrown up in just six weeks for a half-million bucks back in 1914 has undergone extensive renovations, the Cubs are playing like world-beaters, and the kind of marginally employed fans Elia was raving about back in ’83 can scarcely afford tickets these days. But weekday matinee games, which are far less numerous now though thankfully not extinct, are still the cheapest and best way to experience a Cubs game. (Next games: Friday, May 27, plus a handful in June. Here’s the schedule. Some tickets are as low as $25.)
The sights and sounds of the old ballpark are somehow different on a Thursday afternoon in May or September than at a night or weekend game. There are no bachelorette parties or school groups, so you hear the crack of the bat and every note on the old time Lowry organ. You’re more likely to sit next to a loner with a scorecard and a newspaper than a frat boy chugging Old Style. And if you’re playing hooky from work or school, as Ferris Bueller did 30 years ago, you’ll enjoy the game that much more, knowing your cohorts are stuck in the classroom or office.
Go, Cubs, go!