Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Nice Little Place on the North Side, George F. Will

A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred


George F. Will

Category: Nonfiction: Sports; Baseball

Synopsis: Will presents the history of Chicago’s Wrigley Field and its ever-losing Chicago Cubs.

Date finished: 17 June 2014

Rating: *****

I love books that are full of trivia but aren’t trivial. A Nice Little Place on the North Side is the best of the best when it comes to that genre.

This book is a friendly little missive about Chicago baseball. With his dry humor and expansive mind, Will gives the history of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs, and even Chicago itself. He touches on everything from Al Capone to Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, from Carl Sandburg to the chewing gum magnate William Wrigley to the ivy on the wall. And of course, the countless losing seasons of the Cubs.

I enjoyed this romp through history and baseball (and the history of baseball) immensely. Will is a wonderful storyteller, and I never knew what was coming next. I adore Chicago, and the first half or so of this book was a wonderful tour through the city with a native tour guide.

At first I thought it was kind of cute how Will good-naturedly disparaged the Cubs and their seeming inability to put together a winning season, much less make it to the World Series (their last trip was in 1945, and last win was over 100 years ago). And then I really thought about that. To be a fan who devotes his entire lifetime to cheering on an underdog that no one favors (probably even yourself, if you’re honest), is quite a fete. It takes quite a psyche to do this. Who wouldn’t just switch over to the American League and root for the White Sox? Will says cheering for the Cubs is a “lifelong tutorial in deferred gratification.” Which means he thinks gratification will one day come to Wrigley Field. For fans’ sakes, I hope it does.

Would you recommend this to a friend?

You might also enjoy:
One Summer: American 1927


  1. Chicago Cubs fan here--I've got this on my TBR list but haven't gotten to it yet. It's available on audiobook at my library and I'm thinking of reading it that way.
    ( I see you've got some Steinbeck on your TBR sidebar--I can still remember the summer that I read Grapes of Wrath--what an incredible book!!!)

    1. Hope you enjoy the book. It's really too bad Will doesn't narrate the audiobook. I think I'd "read" it again, if he did. I'd love his delivery.

      I read "Grapes of Wrath" in high school, and I loved it. I've wanted to re-read it to see if it's as good as I remember. I've run into so many bloggers lately who were reading "East of Eden" that when I found a used copy, I snatched it up. I don't know if I'm up for an epic classic, though. Maybe by the end of the year?