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100 years of Wrigley Field: Photos, videos and somewhat obscure facts
It’s no secret that this season marks the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field (which also has been known as Weeghman Park and Cubs Park).
But did you know that it once held a ski jumping event in 1944, where participants took off from high behind home plate and landed near second base?
While the ballpark at Clark and Addison may be best known for years of disappointment, including an epic hissy fit by left fielder Moises Alou during Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, it’s been much more than a baseball stadium. Besides also being the home to the Bears, the Chicago Cardinals also played there in the 1930s and the Chicago Sting in the 1980s. Recently, it has been utilized as a concert venue and hosted the Blackhawks.
Even though countless other parks have fallen victim to the wrecking ball or spectacular implosions, it’s apparently here to stay. Especially if you believe the History Channel, which has projected what will happen to it after humans become extinct.
Let’s start off with some things you may or may not know about Wrigley Field, with an assist from the Associated Press:
The Cubs and the Phillies played the highest scoring game in Major League Baseball history, a 26-23 affair the Cubs won, at Wrigley on Aug. 25, 1922. The Phillies only used two pitchers the entire game. At the rate the Cubs are going now, they may not score 26 runs all month.
Lou Gehrig’s first home run in Wrigley Field came when he was only 17 and his high school team traveled to Chicago to play. In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and his team down 8-6, Gehrig hit a ball over wall and onto Sheffield Avenue to win the game.
Wrigley’s grandstand once stood near where the pitcher’s mound is today. In 1923, the grandstand was sliced into multiple pieces, put on rollers and rolled back to where it is today and reassembled. The center section behind home plate was moved closer to Clark and Addison. The move allowed more seats to be installed, which increased the capacity to 30,000.
Wrigley was the first ballpark where fans could keep foul balls, the first to be built with permanent concession stands and also the first to have organ music.
It was built in only six weeks. The contractor in “The Money Pit” could have used some advice from those guys.
One game in 1966 drew fewer than 600 fans. Keep that in mind the next time you make fun of a nearly-empty U.S. Cellular Field.
Odds are, you already know this, but we just want an excuse to toss the video in here. The all-time best manager rant at Wrigley Field (at least caught on tape) came courtesy of Lee Elia on April 29, 1983. Consider yourself warned, this version is not bleeped out. Because that would take the fun out of it.
While we’re at it, if you want to relive that time Wrigley Field went from buzzing with electricity to dead silence in a matter of seconds, here’s a good way to kill an hour.
The Staleys (renamed the Bears in 1922), played their first game at Cubs Park against the Rochester Jeffersons on Oct. 16, 1921. The lease agreement called for the Cubs to get 15 percent of the gate (20 percent when the receipts exceeded $10,000) plus the concession receipts. That original deal held up for 50 years.
Frank “Pat” Pieper became the Cubs’ field announcer in 1916, a job he would hold until 1974. Until a public address system was installed in 1932, Pieper used a 14-pound megaphone and walked from one bullpen to the other to announce the batting order.
Sun-Times file photo
In 1965, folding chairs were replaced by permanent seats in the Club Box area. Bears owner George Halas wasn’t happy with this move. Why? He was so cheap, he would squeeze in extra folding seats to maximize revenue.
Sun-Times file photo
On Nov. 26, 1965, the Bears play to a scoreless tie against the Chicago Cardinals in front of 39,000 fans. Ticket price? $1.75 for a reserved ticket — or $23.35 in today’s dollar. Quite a deal, even if nobody scored.
Where archival game footage is involved, we’d be crazy to leave out the “Sandberg Game” against those hated St. Louis Cardinals from June 23, 1984. Here’s Harry Caray’s call (the action heats up around the 12-minute mark).
Here’s a great piece where Ernie Banks reflects on some of his greatest memories of Wrigley:
Now that we have some of that out of the way, here’s a look back at Wrigley Field with some incredible and historic photos:
First baseman Phil Cavarretta receives the most valuable player award from Howard Roberts, president of baseball writers association as Ford Frick, National league President, looks on. | Sun-Times file photo
From left: Coach Bob Kennedy; Don Landrum, outfielder; Andre Rodgers, short stop; Billy Williams, outfielder; Ron Santo, 3rd base; Ernie Banks, 1st base; Lou Brock, outfielder; Ken Hobbs, 2nd base; Dick Bertell, catcher; Larry Jackson, pitcher. Photo is from 1963 season. | Sun-Times file photo
Ten-year-old Bobby Berner, of Winnetka, takes pictures of Cubs players in the Wrigley Field dugout during the preseason city series between the Cubs and White Sox on April 16, 1948. | Sun-Times file photo
Bears Hall of Fame guard Danny Fortmann (21) and Bears end John Siegel (6), far right, react to a ball in the air after a tackle by Bears guard Ray Bray (82), in the December 14, 1941 NFC Championship game against the Green bay Packers. | AP file photo
Green Bay Packers end Hal Van Every hands the ball to an official after scoring on a 10-yard pass from Cecil Isbell in the third quarter of a 33-14 loss to the Chicago Bears on Dec. 14, 1941. | AP file photo
Chicago Blackhawks fans, from left, Shaun Moran, Mike Saineghi and Bill Hickey cheer during the NHL Winter Classic hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Blackhawks on Jan. 1, 2009. | AP file photo
It seems only fitting to finish with this piece from Major League Baseball.