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Welcome home: Fans revel in Opening Day at Wrigley Field

3 years agoAndy Martinez

Diane Real slipped away for what she thought was the perfect day.

It was the mid-1980s and the high schooler was stoked for the Cubs opener at Wrigley Field. She wanted to see it in person. So, she played hooky and made her way to the Friendly Confines.

It almost paid off — until she was caught.

“They saw me on TV and they called me into the office,” Real said. “They gave me six detentions for coming to the Cubs game.”

Over 35 years later, she was ready to come to another Cubs opener. This time, she didn’t have to worry about repercussions from a school.

“I wanted to come since we didn’t have baseball [with fans] all year last year,” Real said.

So, she decided to just buy tickets along the third base line and head to the park with her partner, Alan Tomas. She bought the tickets without him knowing and made the decision for them.

“It’s just fantastic to be at a live event,” Tomas said. “I didn’t think I’d see this again.”

The duo made up part of the 10,343 that strolled through the Wrigley Field gates, the first time the historic park held fans in 17 months. Like Real and Tomas, the Hendriksen family knew they had to make it to the park for the Cubs’ game on Opening Day.

When Suzy Hendriksen married her husband Chris and became a part of the Hendriksen family, she was told there was one rule.

“Opening Day at Wrigley is a national holiday in this family,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you are, you get to Chicago, you get to Wrigley, you’re here.”

When it was announced that fans would be permitted inside the park, they knew they had to be there — no matter what.

Suzy and Chris’ children, Audrey and Daniel, started in-person school again on Wednesday, but figured, after a year of remote learning, one missed day couldn’t hurt. So, the family made the drive from Cincinnati to Chicago and met up with Chris’ parents, Cindy and Mike, to head to Wrigley Field.

“This is the first time we’ve all been together [since Christmas],” Suzy said.

So it was fitting that the first place they reunited in over three months was at Wrigley Field.

“We’re excited to be here, be safe and cheer on the Cubbies,” Suzy said.

And the Cubs noticed the cheers of the Hendriksen’s, Real, Tomas and the rest of the Cubs fans that were there.

“That was incredible,” Anthony Rizzo said. “I personally took an extra moment when I took the field to appreciate them being here and their cheers and being able to play in front of them. It was definitely something I’ll never forget, taking the field today.”

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