The bricks are there. The ivy is growing, too. There’s even a Toyota sign over left field and troughs spanning the perimeter. But when Lester Allen takes his seat in the right field bleachers, there is no crowd out in left screaming that he sucks. There’s nobody at all. Because he’s sitting in a one-tenth scale model of Wrigley Field that he built in the backyard of his Elmwood Park home.
“As an unemployed man with few hobbies, I needed to find a way to enjoy what I knew was going to be a tough baseball season,” said Allen. “And as I sit in my tiny bleachers, tapping the keg I installed under the batter’s eye and viewing the games on a 72-inch projection television mounted behind home plate I think … Now I’ve got it all.
“Except for friends, still.”
But Allen keeps himself busy: He mows crosshatched lines in mini-Wrigley’s field just like at the ballpark and lays down a tarp when it rains. He even scatters peanut shells and nacho crumbs to attract birds on game days. Unfortunately, the wildlife isn’t the same so far from the lake.
“It’s a different kind of vibe watching baseball surrounded by crows,” said Allen. “If I wasn’t so drunk by the seventh inning, it’d probably be terrifying. You think that’s why nobody’s coming?”
It isn’t quite clear just how long Allen will keep up his fully-functional mini-Wrigley. But his neighbors don’t seem to mind.
“He’s got boards full of halogens and organ music going at night,” said neighbor Jill Stone. “It’s a lot less annoying than the guy across the street who uses his leaf blower for everything.”