Chicago's two professional baseball teams meet Saturday in the latest installment of the Crosstown Classic.
If history is any indication, some future Journal Star prep all-stars just might be in the crowd.
The Journal Star celebrated its high school athletes during the third annual Best of Preps gala last week at the Peoria Civic Center, with more than 400 high school athletes recognized across the newspaper's multiple all-star teams.
We asked a few of them about their first professional sporting event — and quite a few began their sports journey with a trip to see the national pastime.
“It was a baseball game," El Paso-Gridley's Jack Weber said. "The Cardinals played the Cubs. Cardinals lost, but I remember just a lot of people. Loud. Crammed.”
Cam Scott of Illini Bluffs also saw the Cardinals play, creating an indelible memory.
“I was really young. My dad got tickets in the Redbird Club. It was really nice. I can’t even explain it," Scott said. "It was just really cool to see (players) doing what I wanted to do. It was with my family, so it was really nice. It was way more than I expected it to be.”
Matt Martin of Eureka and Marisa Guisti of LaSalle-Peru have early memories of Cubs games — but for very different reasons.
Martin went with his father and brother and enjoyed the nice weather.
"It was a nice sunny day, and the Cubs got the win," Martin said. "We took a pretty memorable picture that day with all three of us, of just the guys in my family. We were pretty close to the field and that view of the field was an image that stuck in my head. It was a pretty cool image."
As for Guisti, she didn't let a pest ruin her first experience watching her favorite baseball team.
"It wasn’t a great memory, because my first Cubs game I got stung by a bee," she said. "That was my first time being stung by a bee, but I still enjoyed the game."
Jared Dowell of Pekin and Nick Waller of East Peoria both remember trips to see the Chicago Bears. Dowell attended training camp in Bourbonnais, where he was able to get multiple autographs of his favorite players.
"I believe I was 11," Dowell said. "That was a pretty good experience."
Waller saw the Bears take on the Eagles, attending the game with his father just more than five years ago.
"It was a pretty fun experience. I enjoyed it a lot," Waller said. "It kinda gave me an insight on football and watching it up close, seeing what it is like at that level. It made me respect the game a little bit more and realize what it would be like."
Patrick Torrey's also has a memory burned into his brain from his first pro game — but it wasn't about respect. It was about toppled tortilla chips.
"We went to a Chiefs and Bills preseason game in Indianapolis," Torrey said. "I was younger, maybe nine or 10, but I remember the mascots were coming over and they were messing with people in the stands and they knocked my nachos over.
"I’ll never forget that."
A pair of Notre Dame soccer all-stars also have memories of football — the European kind.
"The first professional soccer game I went to was at Soldier Field and it was Mexico vs. Cuba," said Noah Madrigal, a two-time Journal Star Soccer Player of the Year. "I was probably like 10 years old. It was a neat experience. The crowd was going crazy and Mexico ended up winning. It was fun."
ND teammate Lucas Fontana also remembers going to an MLS game a couple of seasons ago in Chicago.
"I went with a bunch of guys from the soccer team. It was really cool, the energy was good," Fontana said. "The big fan section was playing drums and there was smoke going everywhere."
Madi Brinkman of Metamora and Hannah Alvey of Illini Bluffs both remember attending University of Illinois games at a young age.
"My family’s big Illinois fans," Brinkman said. "We used to go to all the football games and basketball games, and I’d dress up in cheerleader costumes and cheer on Illinois."
Alvey said she and her family attend U of I games a bit because her father, superintendent Roger Alvey, went to the Champaign school.
While they love football and basketball, more recent trips have taken them to se a difference type of court.
"Recently, we've started going to Huff Hall for volleyball games," Hannah said. "The atmosphere there is just amazing. That's the first thing I'll remember because that place gets so loud, and it's a crazy experience."
Wes Huett is Journal Star sports editor. Contact him at 686-3204 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesHuett. Adam Duvall, Stan Morris and Matt Stevens contributed to this story.