CHICAGO -- Mike Rizzo's initial childhood dream was never realized, but he's pretty happy with the consolation prize.
"I used to see myself playing shortstop here for the Cubs," Rizzo said. "I guess your dreams and your fantasies adjust as time goes on. Sitting in those bleachers and in the grandstands, I used to think all the time about being a Cub and playing in Wrigley Field."
Rizzo, who grew up approximately three miles west of Wrigley Field on Waveland Avenue, was a big Cubs fan growing up and attended 20-30 games per year. Now the Nationals' general manager and president of baseball operations, he's able to enjoy many of the same perks he would have been granted had he managed to become captain of the Cubs' infield.
"First of all, the ballpark, it really is like a cathedral," Rizzo said. "Just being out here and actually getting to, because of my position and where I'm at, you're on the field and you're doing things that you dreamed about when you were kids, laying on this field, and this is the next best thing to it.
"The ballpark aura itself is one thing, and just coming back and with a team that you helped build is humbling, and it's pretty fun."
In addition to taking the Addison Street bus with his sibling to Cubs games, Rizzo also ventured to games at Old Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox. It was that organization that gave him his first job in Major League Baseball following a brief Minor League playing career and a stop at the University of Illinois.
Rizzo was hired by then-Sox GM Larry Hines as an area scout, an experience that got him started on the path to his current destination. He still maintains a strong relationship with Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
"He was one of the greatest owners you could ever work for, and I still keep in contact with Jerry and bounce things off him and call him for advice on certain things," Rizzo said. "They're near and dear to my heart. I spent six tremendous years with them."
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.