Tenant: Chicago Cubs (NL)
Architect: Zachary Taylor Davis (1914)
Chicago Cubs tickets:
Capacity: 14,000 (1914); 18,000 (1915); 20,000 (1923); 38,396 (1927); 40,000 (1928); 38,396 (1938); 38,000 (1939); 38,396 (1941); 38,690 (1949); 36,755 (1951); 36,644 (1965); 37,702 (1972); 37,741 (1973); 37,272 (1982); 38,040 (1986); 38,143 (1987); 39,600 (1989); 38,710 (1990); 38,765 (1994); 38,884 (1997); 38,902 (1998); 41,118 (2006).
A.K.A.: North Side Ball Park (1914); Weeghman Park (1914-15); Cubs’ Park (1916-26); Whales Park (1915); Bobby Dorr’s House.
Location: Left field (N), West Waveland Avenue; third base (W), Seminary Avenue; home plate (SW), North Clark Street; first base (S), 1060 West Addison Street; right field (E), North Sheffield Avenue.
Dimensions: Left field: 345 (April 1914), 310 (May 1914), 327 (June 1914), 343 (1921), 325 (1923), 348 (1925), 364 (1928), 355 (1938); left center deepest corner in the well: 357 (1938); power alleys: 364 (1914), 368 (1938); center field: 440 (1914), 447 (1923), 436 (1928), 400 (1938); right center deepest corner in the well: 363 (1938); right field: 356 (April 1914), 345 (June 1914), 321 (1915), 298 (1921), 399 (1922), 318 (1923), 321 (1928), 353 (1938); backstop: 62.42 (1930), 60.5 (1957), 62.42 (1982), 60 (current); foul territory: very small.
Fences: Left-field corner: 15.92 (11.33 brick with Boston and Bittersweet ivy, below 4.59 plywood), 3 wire basket in front 1985 (does not change height of fence); transition between left-field corner and bleachers: 12.5 (screen and yellow railing on top of brick wall); left-center to right-center: 8 (screen, 1914), 11.33 (brick with ivy, 1938); in front is wire basket (May 1970); center-field scoreboard: 40 (wood July 9 to September 3, 1937); center-field screen: 19.33 (8 wire above 11.33 brick June 18, 1963, to October 1964); right-center triangle: 17.5 in front of catwalk steps sloping down to 15.5 (screen 1928, plywood 1979, removed 1985); right-field corner: 15.5 (11.33 brick with ivy, below 4.17 plywood), wire basket in front (1985).
The first park on Chicago’s North Side, Wrigley Field cost $250,000 when it was built in 1914. Charlie Weeghman built the park to house his baseball team, the Chicago Federals (a.k.a. the Chi-Feds and, later, as the Whales) of the brand-new Federal League, which was challenging the established major leagues. The Federal League folded after only two years, so Weeghman, leading a ten man syndicate which included chewing gum magnate Willam Wrigley, Jr., purchased the Cubs of the National League. The team was moved from West Side Grounds to what was then known as Weeghman Park. In 1918, Wrigley took over Weeghman's share of the team and by 1919 had bought out the shares of the other members of the syndicate. The name of the stadium was changed to Cubs Park in time for opening day, 1920. It was renamed Wrigley Field in his honor in 1926.
The outfield bleachers went up in 1937 and the scoreboard was constructed the same year by Bill Veeck. It is still manually operated, and it still has never been struck with a batted ball, although Roberto Clemente and Bill Nicholson each hit home runs that barely missed. Sam Snead hit it once with a golf ball teed off from home plate. Veeck was also responsible for the ivy that gives Wrigley its distinctive look. In 1937 he planted 350 Japanese bittersweet plants and 200 Boston ivy plants. Eight Chinese elm trees were also planted on the bleacher steps to complement the ivy, but the wind from Lake Michigan kept blowing the leaves off and after multiple attempts at replacing the trees, they were removed.
The first permanent concession stand in baseball was built here in 1914. The custom of allowing fans to keep foul balls hit into the stands started here, as did the custom of throwing back home runs hit by opposing players. "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" has been sung (off-key) thousands of times by venerable announcer Harry Caray (1914-1998), and countless fans have watched the game from the porches and rooftops of the houses on Waveland Avenue (behind the left-field fence) and Sheffield Avenue (beyond right field).
After 5,687 consecutive day games played by the Cubs at Wrigley, the lights were finally lit on August 8, 1988, for a game with the Philadelphia Phillies. That game was rained out after 3½ innings, and the first official night game took place the following evening against the New York Mets. The Cubs won, 6-4. Lights had actually been placed in the ballpark for installation in 1941, but Wrigley instead donated them to a shipyard for the war effort the day after Pearl Harbor. In the late 1980s, however, Cubs management insisted that the team was in danger of leaving Wrigley if lights weren’t installed, and Major League Baseball threatened to make the Cubs play postseason games at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Some classic moments in baseball history have taken place at Wrigley, starting with the legendary 1917 pitching duel between Jim 'Hippo' Vaughn and the Cincinnati Reds’ Fred Toney. Both threw no-hitters for nine innings (the only such dual feat in the majors) before the Reds’ storied Olympian Jim Thorpe drove in the only run. Toney completed his no-hitter. On Sept. 28, 1938, Cubs Hall of Fame catcher Gabby Hartnett hit his famous "Homer in the Gloamin" off the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Mace Brown. With the game about to be postponed because of darkness, Hartnett hit a game-winning homer to lift the Cubs to the pennant. Probably no event at Wrigley Field is more famous than Babe Ruth’s supposed "called shot" home run off Charlie Root in the 1932 World Series. It is now acknowledged that Ruth did indeed gesture toward the outfield just before depositing Root’s pitch into the bleachers, but it may never be known just what he meant. The mystery only adds to the mystique. It was at Wrigley that Ernie Banks hit his 500th homer in 1970 and Pete Rose got his 4,191st hit to equal Ty Cobb’s mark in 1985. But the Cubs have never won a World Series title at Wrigley Field, having lost in all six attempts since 1918. Their last world championship came in 1908, six years before Wrigley was built.
Wrigley Field Trivia:
More on Wrigley Field:
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All photos © 2007 by Russ Andorka.
Special thanks to Ed Hartig (SABR Ballparks Committee), Kristen Kelly and Eddie Wiese.
Updated May 2008
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