Wrigley Field (bleacher entrance)
SW Corner of Sheffield and Waveland
Wrigley Field was once known as Weeghman Park, named after the property owner Charles H. Weeghman. In 1914, at a cost of $250,000, the park was built and the first major league game was played between the Federals (sometimes known as the Whales) and the Kansas City Packers. Capacity of the park at that time was 14,000 people. That season and the next proved to be financially unsound and at the end of the 1915 season the Federal League folded due to finances… so Weeghman decided to purchase the Cubs from the Taft family of Cincinnati and moved the club to Clark and Addison.
On April 20, 1916, the first National League game was played between the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds…Cubs won in 11 innings (the club played its first games in 1870 as the Chicago White Stockings). In 1920 the Wrigley family (the chewing gum people) purchased the team from Charles Weeghman and in 1926 the park became known as Wrigley Field in honor of the club’s owner, William Wrigley Jr. The Wrigley Field bleachers and scoreboard were installed (by Bill Veeck) in 1937 when the outfield area was renovated to provide improved and expanded seating…the scoreboard has remained “pretty much” the same ever since. Along with Fenway Park, Wrigley is one of the last parks to maintain a hand-turned scoreboard. One of the traditions at Wrigley Field has been that at the conclusion of the day’s game the scoreboard operator would raise to the top of the center field scoreboard, either a flag bearing a “W” or an “L” to signify the win or loss of the game. This was done to tell the passengers on the “El” the outcome of the game and to signal people outside the park who are walking or driving by. Speaking of flags, Ernie Banks (No. 14) and Ron Santo (No. 10) have flags waving in right field, while Billy Williams (No. 26) and Ryne Sandberg (No. 23) have their flags out in left. The original vines were planted (again by Veeck) in September 1937 … he had bittersweet plants strung from the top of the wall to the bottom, then planted ivies at the base of the wall which would eventually grow to the top. Today, the outfield wall is covered with these plants and known throughout all of baseball. The bleacher wall is 11.5 feet high, and attached to it is a netting (basket) used to keep inebriated “bleacher bums” from falling onto the field. Park rules state that any ball that lands in the basket is a homerun… and since the basket is located several inches below the top of the wall, and stretches out about three feet, it makes hitting a homerun in Wrigley Field shorter than the location of the outfield wall.
Interesting facts and tidbits: * The Cubs have not won the World Series in 104 years… since 1908…the longest championship drought of any major North American professional sports team * Since 2004, the Chicago Cubs have drawn over 3 million fans every year * Wrigley Field had lights added in 1988 * Wrigley Field is the second-oldest ballpark in the majors behind Boston’s Fenway Park (1912) * Distances from home plate: Left field- 355 feet Left-center – 368 feet Center field – 400 feet Right-center – 368 feet Right field – 353 feet Historic Moments: * Babe Ruth’s “called shot,” when Ruth allegedly pointed to the bleacher with his bat during Game 3 of the 1932 World Series … Ruth proceeded to hit Charlie Root’s next pitch for a home run * Ernie Banks’ 500th career homerun May 12, 1970, vs. Atlanta’s Pat Jarvis * Pete Rose’s 4,191st career hit (Sept.8, 1985) which tied him with Ty Cobb for the most hits in baseball history * Kerry Woods’ 20th strikeout in a single game (vs. Houston Astros) in 1998 * Sammy Sosa’s 60th homeruns in 1998, 1999 and 2001 * Wrigley Field hosted All-Star Games in 1947, 1962 and 1990 Joe Ricketts is the founder, former CEO and former chairman of TD Ameritrade, one of the largest online discount brokerage houses in the world. In October 2009, the Ricketts family acquired a 95 percent controlling interest in the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field, as well as 20 percent of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago. The Ricketts family represents the eighth ownership group in the one hundred year history of the team. While Ricketts is not directly involved in the team’s operations, his son, Tom Ricketts, is Cubs chairman and his three other children (Pete, Laura and Todd) are on the board of directors. In November 2010, the Cubs announced a plan to seek $200 million in state-backed bonds for renovations to Wrigley Field. Interesting Background Stories: * Tinker to Evers to Chance * The Billy Goat Curse * Wiggly Field- dogs only * Cross winds in the friendly confines
On the side…. No story about Wrigley Field would be complete without mentioning Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray. From 1948 to 1981 Brickhouse announced Cubs games both on radio and television. Caray succeeded him from 1982 to 1987 (when Harry suffered a stroke). He died in Palm Springs, CA on February 18, 1998.
Ironically, Jack Brickhouse fell ill and collapsed while preparing for Harry Caray’s funeral. Following brain surgery Jack seemed on the road to recovery until his death six months later on August 6, 1998 from cardiac arrest.
Clark, the new team mascot, was “activated” on January 14, 2014.