Friday night -- and well into Saturday morning -- veteran rockers Pearl Jam played to a sell-out crowd at Chicago's Wrigley Field. Lead singer Eddie Vedder, who grew up in the Chicago area and told stories of visiting the friendly confines as a five-year old, was clearly impressed by the venue, calling the stadium "the crown jewel of the city … and of planet Earth." Late in the night, Vedder, making reference to the stage's location in center field, got a bit nostalgic when he told the crowd that his dreams of playing center at Wrigley Field had finally come true.
The highlight of the night for Cubs fans came late in the night (nearly midnight) but early in the concert. Thanks to a thunderstorm that delayed the show for nearly three hours, things didn't really get started until nearly midnight. The band re-opened the set after the showers at about 11:50 p.m. when Vedder walked out on stage and threw on a Cubs jersey that once belonged to ex-Cub Jose Cardenal. With a video playing on the screens showing highlights of great Cubs moments (including Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout performance, Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter, and a heel-kicking Ron Santo), he played for the crowd "All the Way," a Cubs tribute song Vedder wrote in 2008.
According to Vedder, he wrote the song at the behest of Ernie Banks, who wondered why Wrigley Field didn't have a song to call it's own. "When Ernie Banks asks you to do something on his birthday, you don't say 'no.'" Following the performance, Vedder shocked the crowd by bringing onto the stage "the greatest Cub, Mr. Ernie Banks!" Banks, wearing a baseball mitt that had once belonged to that five-year-old Eddie Vedder, went on to speak to the crowd for a few minutes. Before leaving the stage, Banks made sure to tell the crowd that he would be taking Vedder's mitt with him.
Judging by the crowd's reaction (of which I gladly include myself), the moment was a huge hit for all involved.
Photographic proof of the meeting between Vedder and Banks was provided by movie producer Judd Apatow:
Though the concert will be remembered for many reasons by Pearl Jam fans, the appearance of "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks will always be number one.