It was a great afternoon for baseball Saturday, so I ventured up to the bleachers at Wrigley Field to see how Chicago Cubs fans responded to a rebuild that couldn’t be called a rebuild.
The bleachers were packed with the Atlanta Braves game as fans sat behind the back row in left and right fields, gathering behind the concessions to socialize without watching the actual game.
In other words, it’s normal on the corner of Waveland and Sheffield avenues.
For years, the Cubs owners have relied on fans to turn a blind eye to the team’s failings on the court, knowing that no matter how bad the situation gets, there will always be young fans looking for a party vibe at Wrigley Field.
The bleachers have always been prime spots for sunbathing, drinking beer and people watching since forever, which is why tickets to seats away from events are so expensive. Even former Cubs president Theo Epstein headed to left field on Friday afternoon to soak up the sun and grab some snacks with friends.
After selling the White Sox to a group led by Jerry Reinsdorf in 1981, Hall of Famer Bill Wake sat front row midfield in Wrigley during summer days he called “The best seat in the house”. . In a 1983 interview, Vic told me, “It’s one of the rare places my generation can get along with young people.”
On days when grandstand tickets were only sold on game day, regulars lined up early across Sheffield to secure their preferred spot. But former owner The Tribune Company scrapped the longstanding policy in 1985 to change the atmosphere in the stands.
Vic helped plant ivy on the walls of the outfield in 1937 and, as a result of this policy change, initiated his famous boycott of the booth.
Every generation of Bleacher Bums has condemned the younger generation for invading their turf, at least since the 1980s, when I sat in the right field at 20 and went to work at the Chicago Tribune desk. Years later, after becoming a Cubs beat writer, I spoke with longtime Cubs fan and rock star Billy Corgan about the celebrity fashions that attend the games.
“The focus should be on the people who support the team – day in and day out – and I always respect that,” Kogan said in a 2004 interview. “I’m a regular Cubs fan. I was a regular Cubs fan long before I was famous. I will never forgive the Yuppies for coming back in 84. I’m still upset about it.
“When the Cubs stopped selling bleacher tickets on game day, that was the end of the old stand-bum culture. Now it’s just fake Bleacher Bums.”
Yuppies may have brought about the end of booth culture 40 years ago, but now it’s the “Cuppies” that take center stage. You’ve probably seen them on recent national television broadcasts, including Fox Sports and ESPN’s Cubs-Cardinals series, two weeks ago.
Cuppies are young fans who spend most of the game collecting empty beer mugs to stack them high enough to cover several rows. These are often called beer snakes or glass snakes. It’s been going on for at least five years but has become a nuisance to some recently.
The regulars I spoke to in the left grandstand on Saturday insisted: Cuppies are ruining the grandstand experience. But they also agree that no one can stop them.
One of the security guards I spoke to said the order was to stop Cuppies from collecting cups from block to block and moving those thrown by beer snakes from block to block. When I mentioned that the Beer Snakes had obsessive coverage on both Fox and ESPN, the guard said the Cubs couldn’t do anything about the national broadcast, but the Marquee Sports Network would not allow filming of mugs during the broadcast.
The security guard asked not to be identified so as not to be reprimanded by the Cubs.
At least the Cubs’ security chiefs have their priorities. On a sweltering afternoon in 1983, someone was kicked out of Wrigley Field for accidentally spraying a fan with spray mist, and I can attest that orgies in the stands lead to a life of crime. Fortunately, I changed my life by moving from the stands to the rostrum, where I was no longer a threat to the organization.
I asked some baby boomers in the stands if current Gen Zers and millennials are actually worse off than the baby boomers were at their peak. In case anyone forgets, I remember that the Cubs installed baskets on the walls of the bleachers in 1970 because fans were jumping on the field after a win, which was much worse than stacking beer mugs.
They assured me that the original Bleacher Bums were only there to support the Cubs and have fun, and that the Cuppies were a stain on society, not even a “real” Cubs fan. It was highlighted that during the Cubs’ game against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday, a fan hit Manny Machado’s home run and refused to return it. The horror!
I didn’t fight with Cuppies. They have the right to ignore the Cubs’ plight, just like generations before them. If anyone wants to pay $100 or more instead of watching the Cubs in the stands, that’s their prerogative.
In the summer of 1987, for an article on the 50th anniversary of the bleachers, I interviewed 57-year-old fan Marv Rich, a hobo since 1943. Rich insists the yuppies took over the bleachers and destroyed it. other people’s atmosphere.
“They don’t mind watching the game,” he said. “All that matters is getting a tan and being able to tell everyone you got a tan in the stands.”
Cuppies have replaced Yuppies, but the songs remain the same. The stands are part of Wrigley Field, but game viewing is not mandatory.
It’s going to be a long, hot summer. Boomers and Cuppies will have to coexist.
Can’t we live in harmony?