Chiefs, Cougars enjoying Wrigley
CHICAGO -- For many players, stepping onto Wrigley Field for the first time in Tuesday's game between the Kane County Cougars and Peoria Chiefs, July 29 has been a day circled in their calendars for months. It undoubtedly has long promised to be the highlight of each player's season.
For a different, select few, Wrigley completes a whirlwind of a late July. Take Chiefs second baseman Josh Harrison, who will play just his fifth game with Peoria in Wrigley. The second baseman was called up after hitting .351 in 33 games with the Boise Hawks. Tuesday will be the infielder's first home game with the team; even though he hasn't seen the city that he will make his home in the final two months of the Minor League season.
"I won't get to Peoria until tonight," Harrison said. "I'm just thankful I could have this opportunity."
Three months ago, Harrison was an infielder for the University of Cincinnati. In June, the Cubs made him the sixth-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He also wasn't aware that he would be manning Ryne Sandberg's old position until his Boise teammates told him.
"When they moved me up from Boise, everybody was like, 'Hey man, you get to play in Wrigley.' I was like, 'That's awesome!" Harrison said.
Cougars catcher Petey Paramore will play just his fourth game with Kane County in Wrigley. However, the 21-year-old catcher has plenty of experience playing in Major League stadiums. While at Arizona State University, Paramore's Sun Devils played in the Minute Maid Classic at Minute Maid Field in Houston, as well as occasional games at Chase Field in Phoenix. However, shortly after taking batting practice, Paramore wasted no time in crowning his personal favorite.
"I'm pretty lucky, I've gotten to play on a few big league fields, but nothing with the history of this place," said the All-American catcher. "None of those compare to here. There's not many places like Wrigley, maybe Fenway and Yankee Stadium."
After nine games in the Arizona League, the third-round Draft pick was promoted to Kane County, despite battling leg problems. Paramore will catch his third game with the Cougars tonight, but he's glad he wasn't thrown into the fray immediately upon joining the team.
"I had a couple days to get to know everybody while I was still healing up, so that was really good," said Paramore, who has yet to catch Tuesday's starter, Jamie Richmond. "We'll still be new to each other, but a few innings in and we'll be comfortable."
Six weeks ago, Paramore and the Sun Devils arrived in Omaha, Neb., to play in the College World Series, having accomplished one of their major goals. The catcher would have never guessed that weeks later, he would be playing in one of baseball's most famous stadiums.
"I got here just in time," Paramore said with a smile. "I met them on the road, this is my seventh day. I got a taste of being on the road in the Minor Leagues, and this is a great way to cap it."