Rachel Levitin: Retracing Wrigleyville roots amid Nationals conversation

When I was in Chicago earlier this month, I found myself wandering around the neighborhood I grew up in - Wrigleyville. Back then, I wasn’t old enough to appreciate an Old Style at Murphy’s Bleachers on the corner of Waveland and Sheffield. But a few weeks ago, I was.

One of my favorite parts of growing up in a baseball town like Chicago is that people there, at least in my mind, seemed to really enjoy sports. They enjoyed watching sports, talking about sports and knew intricacies about each game that sparked a conversation. Maybe it was the neighborhood I was living in, my sense of wonder being a child, or maybe it was just that Wrigley Field tends to attract those type of people and welcome them into our Chicago neighborhood with open arms. Friendly confines? Sounds about right to me!

On May 11, when they re-opened the left side of the bleachers with the ongoing 2015 stadium renovations that continue in right field, I sat down at Murphy’s Bleachers about four hours before game time to see who flocked to Wrigleyville for the most recent iteration of a bleacher unveiling at a Cubs game. In that time, I met a family of four from New York who - despite being Mets fans - really started getting into talking about Nationals baseball once I told them I was in town from Washington, D.C.

They rambled on about their love of Bryce Harper and how they’d like to see him stay with the Nationals throughout his career. We got into my admiration of Ryan Zimmerman for his leadership role within the Nats organization and the grace with which he transitioned from one hot corner on the diamond to the other. There was talk about how this particular family, whose older son apparently went to college with me (Go American University Eagles!), truly enjoyed their time spent at Nationals Park in seasons past. “There’s not a bad seat in the house,” their mother told me.

The Cubs may have been playing the Mets that day, so this family’s presence at a Wrigleyville watering hole hours before game time made sense to me but there was something special, in my mind, about talking Nats baseball in my old stomping grounds just steps away from Wrigley Field with a family full of Mets fans.

It’s like I said, maybe Wrigley Field tends to attract those type people. But based on what this family was saying about the Nats, it sounds like Nationals Park is starting to do a little bit of the same in regards to attracting people who love baseball and the sport community that comes along with the fandom. That’s something I’d love to see more of as the Navy Yard continues to transition its own baseball neighborhood a la Wrigleyville.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for District Sports Page. Follow her on Twitter: @RHLevitin. She will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation’s capital as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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