On the weekend Chicago bids its official goodbye to Ernie Banks, the Wrigley Field renovations continue.
It's a strange sight, to say the least. The building where Banks worked his magic and frequently reminded us what pure joy the game of baseball can bring to our minds and our hearts has been ripped, in some corners, down to its core. And perhaps you've heard the reports of the scurrying rats that have been forced to look for shelter elsewhere in Wrigleyville.
No rats could be seen Friday morning, shortly before Banks' visitation service began at a downtown church. It was too cold even for them. But construction workers pressed on undeterred by the elements, and progress is being made. The Cubs, of course, have made every effort in the planning to preserve the essence of the park as Ernie Banks would have remembered it, while still updating it for modern times.
The "new" should be great. Yet even amidst that promise and amidst the inevitable noise and rubble of progress, there were reminders that this is and always will be Ernie Banks' home. Withered flowers, left in the wake of the news last week that the 83-year-old Banks had died, sat near the Captain Morgan Club entrance on the ballpark's south side. On the chain-link fence that temporarily separates the public from the construction taking place near the famous sign at Clark and Addison, there were the letters, the roses and the baseballs left behind by grieving fans.
So even as Wrigley is readied for its next chapter, that chain-link link to the past is what truly stands out here. Mr. Cub is gone, and Wrigley, figuratively and physically, will never be the same.