Visiting Wrigley Field is something that had been on my to-do list for a long time. I am an Anaheim Angels fan, but have been curious about the Cubs and Wrigley Field since they picked up Ron Cey from the Dodgers in 1982. Thus, I was excited to finally be able to tour the 2nd oldest MLB ballpark.
Many people may know that Wrigley Field was built in 1914 and didn’t have lights until 1988, but did you know that Wrigley Field was built on the grounds once occupied by a seminary? I didn’t, and thought it was quite interesting. Originally known as Weeghman Park, it was he home of Chicago’s entry in the Federal League and was the property of Charles H. Weeghman. The first major league game at the ballpark took place April 23, 1914, with the first homer in ballpark history being hit by Federals catcher Art Wilson.
When the Federal League folded for financial reasons after the 1915 campaign, Weeghman purchased the Cubs from the Taft family of Cincinnati and moved the club to the two-year-old ballpark at the corner of Clark and Addison streets. Then in 1916, the first National League game was played on April 20, 1916. The park became known as Cubs Park in 1920 after the Wrigley family purchased the team from Weeghman. Later it was named Wrigley Field in 1926 in honor of William Wrigley Jr., the club’s owner.
The Wrigley Field bleachers and scoreboard were constructed in 1937 when the outfield area was renovated to provide improved and expanded seating. The original vines were purchased and planted by Bill Veeck in September 1937. Veeck strung bittersweet from the top of the wall to the bottom, then planted the ivy at the base of the wall.
Tribune Company purchased the Cubs in 1981 and made some significant changes: the ticket office was built directly behind home plate in 1983, During the winter of 1984, a new home clubhouse was completed under the third base stands, the visitors’ clubhouse was renovated in 1990, lights were added in 1998, in 1989 private boxes were constructed on the mezzanine level, an elevator was added to the third base concourse in 1996, and following the 2005 season, the Cubs expanded the bleachers, adding a restaurant in the batter’s eye and a window to Sheffield Avenue in right field.
In 1902, a local newspaper penned the nickname Cubs for the first time. The moniker prevailed over time and was officially adopted by the club in 1907. During the 1906 season they won their first pennant of the 20th century and went on to play in the only all-Chicago World Series. Sadly for Cub fans, the White Sox won four games to two in the series. The sadness didn’t last too long as the Cubs won their first World Series the next year, defeating the Detroit Tigers and Ty Cobb, four games to two. 1908 was pretty much a repeat of the 1907 series beating Detroit again except they won the series 4-1. This is also the year that pitcher Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown wins 29 games, setting a team record (since 1900) that stands today.
In 1947, Jackie Robinson made his major-league debut. When the Dodgers came to town in the middle of May, with Robinson at first base, the stands were packed with the largest single-game attendance at Wrigley Field ever-46,572. In 1952, outfielder Hank Sauer wins the NL Most Valuable Player award after he hit a major league leading 37 home runs and 121 RBI’s. In 1955, Sam Jones becomes the first Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter in nearly 40 seasons, and in 1959 Ernie Banks becomes the first National Leaguer to win the MVP trophy in back-to-back seasons. The previous year he hit .313, 47 homers and 129 RBI, while ’59 saw him go .304 with 45 home runs and a major-league leading 143 RBI. Today he is still known as Mr Cub.
In 1984, under manager Jim Frey, the organization wins their first NL Eastern Division championship, and return to post-season play for the first time since 1945. Pitcher Greg Maddux wins the NL Cy Young award in 1992, after posting a 20-and-11 record .In 1998. Sammy Sosa slugged 66 home runs and captured the NL MVP, as he battled St. Louis Cardinals’ slugger Mark McGwire in a home run race that captivated the nation. Sadly In 1998 he Cubs experienced the loss of two Hall-of-Fame broadcasters, Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse.
In 2007 new manager Lou Piniella guided the Cubs to their first postseason appearance since 2003, only to lose to the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. 2008 was the 100th anniversary of the last Cubs’ World Series championship, and they capped it by winning their second straight National League Central title with a league-leading 97 wins. On Oct. 31 2014 manger Rick Renteria was dismissed, and three days later, Joe Maddon was hired as the new Cubs manager. I would like to note those former Cubs who have had their numbers retired : #10 – Ron Santo, #14 – Ernie Banks, #23 – Ryne Sandberg, #26 – Billy Williams, #31 – Greg Maddux, #31 – Ferguson Jenkins and #42 – Jackie Robinson whose number is retired across MLB.
There is so much history with the Cubs, and this post would be pages and pages. Please forgive me if I didn’t mention your favorite Cub past or present. I tried to grab some of the teams highlights through the years. With that said, I had a great tour of Wrigley Field and learned a lot about the history of the Cubs and Wrigley Field. What I found quite interesting was seeing the scoreboard and the Cubs locker room. Most teams only let you see the visitor’s locker room. It was all roped off with a guard, but it was really great to see. It is quite an old stadium, but that is what makes it so special and unique. If you haven’t see it before, I hope you make it one day.
LIKE WHAT YOU ARE READING?
I would love to send you my free travel itinerary cheat sheets and emails when I post new articles! I usually post 2 times a week. Sign up now, receive your free travel sheets and don’t miss an article. Thanks, Samantha ♥