At Wrigley, An Evening of Diplomacy - NBC Chicago

Complete coverage of the Chicago NATO Summit

At Wrigley, An Evening of Diplomacy

Saturday was "NATO Night" at the Friendly Confines



    The Friendly Confines honored NATO nations Saturday night, and a host of dignitaries were on hand. (Published Sunday, May 20, 2012)

    With the flags of members nations and a stirring national anthem, the Friendly Confines on Saturday honored NATO.

    United States Marine Corps. Gen. John Allen threw out the ceremonial pitch and it was
    Ivo H. Daalder, the U.S. representative to NATO, who sang the 7th inning stretch.

    It was a picture-perfect night, but earlier in the week Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, considered and then rejected a controversial ad against President Barack Obama.

    Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts declined to discuss that. Instead, he just wanted everyone to enjoy a game of baseball that even without NATO would have been exciting. The Cubs were hosting the White Sox in the annual crosstown series.

    "It's obviously an exciting game to begin with, and then you layer in all the activities and all the great people that are going to be here tonight. It just makes it an even more exciting evening for Cubs/Sox," said Ricketts. "It's a beautiful night at Wrigley, and we're just going to enjoy the evening.

    And that's what the host of political types, from Sen. Dick Durbin to Gov. Pat Quinn to Obama strategist David Axelrod came to do.

    "As far as I'm concerned, I'm here to see a good baseball game and that's it," said Axelrod.

    The world's most famous White Sox fan, the president himself, flew overhead in Marine One.

    Earlier, rumors swirled that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would lead the crowd during the 7th Inning Stretch as she'd done in 1994 as first lady, but instead she just watched, albeit from the Ricketts' private skybox.

    Clinton, a native of Illinois, is a self-proclaimed Cubs fan, though she says she has since become "enamored" with the New York Yankees.

    Her visit comes at a time when she's openly talking about leaving the secretary of state position but deflecting conversations about whether she'd run for president in 2016.

    Security was tight at the game, with authorities changing normal protocol and closing all streets within a one-block radius of the ballpark.

    Nearby, a concert celebrating Woody Guthrie's birthday featuring Tom Morello, Jon Langford, Bucky Halker and Holly Near was held at Metro nightclub. Morello performed Friday at a rally for National Nurses United.

    The proximity of the two events raised concerns of clashes, but that never materialized. Saturday's protests were mostly reserved to the downtown area.

    The White Sox beat the Cubs, 7-4.