Sports walk: Lakeview/Wrigleyville
John Goodman embedded himself with Cubs groundskeepers at a Wrigleyville tavern. Keanu Reeves prepped for his kids' coach role by scarfing deep-dish with ticket brokers. Madonna, however, was in a league of her own, counting the minutes until she could kiss the Windy City good-bye. Replay some of Hollywood's cinematic Chicago sports highlights on this outing through Lakeview and Wrigleyville.
START Music Box Theatre END Gingerman Tavern DISTANCE 1.6 miles TIME 45 minutes
It seems fitting that the city where Babe Ruth famously called his shot became the setting for The Babe, the 1992 biopic starring John Goodman as the Bambino—even if we had to dress up as Boston to get the part. Start your tour by checking out the unchanged interior of the period-perfect Music Box Theatre (3733 N Southport Ave, 773-871-6604); built in 1929, it was a shoo-in to play a vaudeville theater in the film.
Back on the street, head south on Southport to the stretch between Addison and Roscoe Streets. These blocks were transformed via truckloads of mud and hay into 1914 Boston, where the Babe met his first wife, Helen. At Ann Sather (3416 N Southport Ave, 773-404-4475) you can bulk up like the Babe with a decadent cinnamon roll.
At Roscoe, take a left and walk to Lakewood Avenue. Turn north and walk till you hit Addison. On the corner is Guthrie’s Tavern (1300 W Addison St, 773-477-2900), a denlike bar known for its board games. Maybe you can’t hit one out of the park, but you can sink somebody’s battleship.
Walk two blocks east on Addison and you’re in Cubs country. At Clark Street, take a moment to reflect on Wrigley Field’s (1060 W Addison St) career in the movies, including Rookie of the Year (1993) and A League of Their Own (1992) starring Tom Hanks and Madonna. Unfortunately, the Material Girl was immune to our charms. In a letter to photographer Steven Meisel, she wrote, “I cannot suffer any more than I have in the past month, learning how to play baseball with a bunch of girls (yuk) in Chicago (double yuk).”
Who needs Madge’s approval when you’ve got Keanu’s? Stroll a few doors south on Clark to Sluggers (3540 N Clark St, 773-248-0055), where scenes were filmed for 2001’s Hardball, starring Reeves as a gambler who redeems himself coaching an underprivileged kids’ baseball team (based on a true story about Cabrini-Green kids and their coach). Sluggers co-owner Zach Strauss remembers Reeves preparing for the role by hanging with ticket brokers at the bar and putting down deep-dish. Be sure to visit the bar’s second-level batting cages to connect with your inner Little Leaguer.
North on Clark a block or so, step into Bernie’s Tavern (3664 N Clark St, 773-525-1898), where The Babe’s Goodman hung out with the Wrigley Field grounds crew after filming. According to former Cubs employee Phil Badella, the crew even made Goodman an honorary groundskeeper’s uniform.
Next up: ballpark eats. Walk another block north on Clark to Wrigleyville Dogs (3735 N Clark St, 773-296-1500), where a Chicago-style dog costs just $2. It’s enough to make you want to stand up and do a slow clap.
A half block north on Clark, check out the mellow Gingerman Tavern (3740 N Clark Ave, 773-549-2050). Behind the bar, whiskey bottles cluster around an autographed photo of Paul Newman, bar owner Dan Schnitta’s trophy from the scenes filmed here for The Color of Money (1986). Director Martin Scorsese loved the bar’s unpolished charm, and Schnitta has kept the place intact, including the mirrors. Schnitta recalls female patrons coming into his bar dressed to the nines, just to have their picture taken with the mirrors that once held Newman’s reflection. Snap a few photos, put your name on the chalkboard in back to hold a spot at a pool table and kill time with a $3 pint of PBR in homage to Newman, a man who appreciated a six-pack.