Cubs fans tell Wrigley stories in new book

Former Daily Chronicle reporters Rob Carroll and Dan Campana have co-authored a book celebrating Wrigley Field's 100 years with 100 stories from the people who've experienced the ballpark firsthand.

"Wrigley Field: 100 Stories for 100 Years" details the role the historic ballpark has played in the lives of players, broadcasters, Wrigleyville employees, business owners, vendors and fans young and old. Among the contributors are well-known names, such as Kerry Wood, Bob Costas, Rick Sutcliffe and Steve Stone.

But many of the subjects are those you'd simply walk by when going to a Cubs game, said Carroll, current entertainment editor for the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, and their stories are just as compelling.

"Basically, the book tells the story of Wrigley through 100 different voices," he said. "There's nothing out there like this."

The two authors met in 2000 when they worked at the Chronicle. Campana, now a freelance writer and communications consultant in the Chicago suburbs, approached Carroll with the idea for the book in October 2012. A publisher already was interested.

Both Cubs fans, the two authors spent a Cubs season interviewing various subjects.

"I didn't want to write a textbook or something as straightforward as a history," Campana said.

"Everybody walks out of there with a different type of experience from going to a game, and that's really what we tried to focus on."

Published last month, the book is available at the local Barnes & Noble and online at www.historypress.net and major websites, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and elsewhere.

The book appeals, the authors say, because fans can relate to something in every story.

Cubs fans share a common bond, as well as various traits.

"Definitely, a Cubs fan is a very hopeful person," said Carroll, who has a closet full of baseball cards and Cubs memorabilia in his Rockford home.

Campana described fans another way: "sick."

"I use the term lovingly, but we're all sick," said Campana, a fan since birth, who named his son "Ryne" for his favorite Cub, Ryne Sandberg. "Fan is short for fanatic."

Cubs fans, especially, are attached to more than just the team or the baseball, he said. It's the entire environment, he said.

"It's more than just the game itself," he said. "There's something about the mystique of the park, the mystique of the team.

"When you've got a team as old as it is, you're going to have people for generations to pass on that love or illness, whatever you want to call it."

As he writes in the book, Campana's parents met in Wrigley's famed bleachers in the 1970s. One of his grandfathers worked as a high-ranking security official at Wrigley for years, while his other grandfather was a fan, often bringing his seven children to the ballpark.

Originally from Lacon, Carroll remembers the Cubs interrupting the G.I. Joe cartoons he watched on WGN as a child. Annoyed at first, he soon became a fan and attended his first game in 1984 followed by a Chuck Berry concert.

Working in his first newspaper office at age 19, Carroll has held various position at newspapers throughout northern Illinois and the Chicago suburbs. Originally from Lacon, he's also spent time as a radio host in Rockford.

One of his favorite interviews for the book involved a somewhat random encounter with a fan of an opposing team. A Cardinals fan, the man attended the game with his brother, whom he'd only just met a year ago.

The only tough part about researching the book, Carroll said, was heading to Wrigleyville for interviews, but not actually going to a Cubs game.

Campana enjoyed interviewing Cubs player and broadcaster Steve Stone after approaching him cold one day.

"He had no idea I was coming or what I was all about," Campana said.

Stone spoke for about 20 minutes, offering up story after story without Campana having to ask a question.

In another story, former Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe shared his behind-the-scenes views of pitching the Cubs' first night game.

"We have people who span 100 years," said Campana, referring to a book subject who turned 100 this year and who once poured concrete during the park's reconstruction years ago. Fans in the book come from far and wide, with a fan from Sweden and another from Florida.

"Every Cubs fan is going to relate to something in here," Campana said. "It's a fun read. You can see yourself in some of these stories."