A Wrigley Field nursery
The first question a couple friends asked Jordan Heckard last week about the replica Wrigley Field wall in his son's nursery was about a perceived mistake in the distance to center field.
"There's no 425," they said, noting it's 400 feet.
The numbers actually reflect Henry's birth date of April 25, prompting the Highland boys basketball coach and big-time Cubs/Purdue fan to quip, "It's a good thing he wasn't supposed to be born in August."
The project goes back to around the time the Heckard's third child was born, when Megan gave Jordan the OK to "do whatever you want" with the nursery, though, he thinks, in the back of her head, she assumed he'd never do it.
"If you want to run with it, go for it," she told him.
And ran with it, Jordan did. His vision was to have a brick wall with ivy on it. He wasn't going to go to the extreme of the actual materials, but the wallpaper, ordered through Amazon, and the faux ivy did the trick. Not quite done at that point, Jordan had to find something to fashion into the basket, which he made out of a poultry fence he bought at Menard's.
"They didn't have any at the one in Valpo, so I had to go to Portage to get it," he said.
The whole endeavor took about five hours, starting around 10 p.m. after the kids had gone to bed, and finishing around 3 a.m.
"(Henry) only wakes up about once a night," Jordan said. "I was nailing the ivy in, trying to be as quiet as possible. Around 1:30, 2, she popped her head in and said, 'do you have to nail?'"
After the hammering was done, Jordan dropped a ball in the basket for authenticity. He later filled out the room with assorted Cubs items, including a blanket for the the extra bed just in case Charlie wants to sleep in the same room as his brother.
"He's got a shark and pirate theme in his room down the hall," Jordan said. "He asked, 'why don't I have any Cubs pictures?' We've got so much Cubs stuff around the house, it's not hard to find stuff. After doing the wall and the ivy, I knew I couldn't leave it like that."
Heckard tweeted pictures of the nursery to several Cubs players, hoping to prompt a response.
Under normal circumstances, the undertaking would have probably been delayed, but with high school sports still shut down, Jordan found himself with unexpected free time on his hands.
"It's one of those things where June's usually a busy month for basketball, so there's a good chance it wouldn't have happened with a 'regular' June," he said. "At least this way, I had the opportunity to get it done."
Heckard's family attended both Cubs and Sox games when he was a kid, but somehow he latched on to the Cubs despite their lovable loser status that in large part preceded their recent run of success.
"My mom and her sister told stories of going to Wrigley Field on their day off and getting bleacher seats for $1, $5," he said.
Before the Cubs' 2016 World Series title, Heckard's favorite memory was going to a kids clinic the team used to have on all-star weekend.
"I was 7 or 8," he said. "I threw the ball on the field with Sammy Sosa. He was skinny then. I think he'd just come over from the Sox. I had a college buddy who had season tickets from 2012 to 2014. We all bought shares and we'd have a draft to pick games. They were so bad then, you couldn't give them away."
Jordan and Megan both attended Valpo High School, where Jordan played basketball and tennis, and Purdue. Megan's a Cubs fan as well, so going to several games each season has become a family tradition, one they hope to resume next year with fans unable to attend this summer. They were able to get last-minute bleacher tickets for a National League Championship Series game with the Dodgers in 2017, so they strapped daughter Ava, just a few months old at the time, into a carrier and headed to Wrigley.
"I'm sure we were the only people with a new-born at an NLCS game," Jordan said. "We were a little worried, but everybody took care of her."
Jordan coached Charlie in T-Ball last year, though the league wasn't held this time around due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We enjoyed it," Jordan said. "Our team was the Rockies, so if he were to have a favorite team other than the Cubs, it would probably be the Rockies. I get out my old baseball cards from the 90s."
Jordan certainly hopes that as Henry gets to the age where he knows his baseball teams that he'll fall in line with the family.
"I've gotten some messages from some Sox fan friends who said he's going to be a Sox fan," he said. "We'll see. It's crossed our minds. If he doesn't (like the Cubs), we can take the ivy and wallpaper down."
Highland boys basketball coach Jordan Heckard decorated his son Henry's nursery with a Cubs theme, complete with brick wallpaper and plastic ivy to replicate the Wrigley Field outfield wall. The 425 reflects Henry's April 25th birth date. (Photo provided)