Wrigley Field opened at 1060 West Addison Street in Chicago on April 23, 1914. It has been home to the Chicago Cubs since 1916. The original
cost to build Wrigley was $250,000.
Originally built for the Chicago Whales of the old Federal Baseball League, the ball park was named Weeghman Park. In 1920 it was re-named Cubs Park.
The Federal League folded in 1915 and Whales owner Charles Weeghman led a group of investors to buy the Cubs.
Part of that group was William Wrigley, Jr. Wrigley gained full ownership of the Chicago Cubs in 1919 and changed his baseball stadium's name to Wrigley Field. Wrigley also owned the Los Angeles Angels. A Pacific Coast League club and named that stadium Wrigley, too.
Wrigley Field originally had seating for only 14,000 fans. Through out the years the seating capacity has changed 22 times. Today the park holds 41,118.
Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, popularized the term "Friendly Confines".
Wrigley Field is the second oldest major league baseball stadium still in existence, behind only Fenway Park in Boston.
In 1937, owner Bill Veeck planted ivy against the brick, outfield
wall. He is also responsible for the manually operated score board. No batted ball has ever hit the score board.
When first built, this baseball stadium was squeezed between other buildings in Chicago. As a result, the right field foul line was only 298 feet. The grandstands were only single decked. Only left field had bleachers.
In 1923, the "Friendly Confines" were reconfigured. Some of those old surrounding building were gone which made room to expand. Right field now stood at 321 feet. Bleachers were added to right field and the double decked grandstands were added.
The Chicago Cubs announced, in 1937, plans to rebuild the bleachers. They would be made of concrete instead of wood. A newly contructed, brick outfield wall would be put in as well as a new score board.
The left field bleachers were brought closer to the left field corner to put the fans right next to the action.
A temporary fence was built so that construction of these new additions could go on through the summer months.
After the re-modeling was complete, owner Veeck planted "Bittersweet" ivy and "Boston" ivy which would grow quickly along the outfield wall.
The bleachers that had been installed in center field made it difficult for hitters to pick up the ball from the pitcher. Several things were tried to remedy this problem. First a huge canopy was tried, to put the fans in a shadow. This didn't work. Next, a fence was placed on top of the wall and the ivy worked it's way up, but fans did not like this either. By the mid 1960s a large green tarp covered the center field bleachers. As the 1990s came along, Juniper plants were put in to compliment the ivy.
By the 1940s, most major league baseball stadiums had lights. Plans were in place to add lights in the early 1940's. But as World War 2 came, the materials were donated for the war effort. A few games were actually played at Wrigley using temporary lighting structures.
After the war, owner Philip Wrigley, son of the late William Wrigley, was being pressured to install lights at at Wrigley Field. He eventually decided never to put lights in and so the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium remained the monument of day baseball.
By the 1980s, The Tribune Company owned the Cubs. One reason Philip Wrigley didn't want lights is because he didn't want to upset the local people. And boy, was he right.
With all the talk of lights at Wrigley Field, the city of Chicago passed an ordinance banning all night events at Wrigley because it was in the residential neighborhood of Lakeview. This effectively prevented the Tribune Company from installing lights.
In 1984 the Chicago Cubs won the National League Eastern Division. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced that the Cubs would lose their home field advantage if they advanced because they didn't have lights. The Cubs lost to the San Diego Padres in the NLCS so it made no difference.
New major league baseball commissioner Peter Uberoth announced in 1985, that if the Chicago Cubs got to post season play that all of their home games would have to be played at another stadium. Dallas Green who was the Cubs president at the time pleaded with the fans and the city for lights. "If there are no lights at Wrigley Field, there will be no Wrigley Field.
The Cubs did not make the play offs for several years, so the situation never arose.
Finally, in 1987, a compromise was reached that would install lights at Wrigley Field but that the Cubs would play a very limited night schedule.
The first night game at Wrigley Field was scheduled for August 8, 1988 against the Philadelphia Phillies. However, the game was rained out. The next night, August 9, 1988, the Chicago Cubs played the New York Mets in the first night game at Wrigley Field. The 1989 Chicago Cubs played their first full season with lights. But the schedule called for only 18 night games, plus any post season games. The timing could not have been better because the Cubs did reach post season in 1989.
Wrigley Field is best known for it's crazy wind patterns. In the Spring the wind blows off Lake Michigan which means the Northeast wind blows in and prevents many would be home runs. But in the summer time, the wind usually blows from the south, which means that the wind is blowing out which can turn ordinary fly balls into home runs.
Cross winds are also known to play havoc at Wrigley Field, normally blowing from left field across to right.
The Chicago bears also used Wrigley Field from 1921-1970 before moving to Soldier Field. The football field was laid out from left field to the first base line.
Most of the old baseball stadiums around the league were surrounded by taller building that allowed fans to see the game from the roof tops. Some baseball parks built high screens to prevent this.
But the Cubs never seemed to mind if their fans across Waveland Avenue watched from the roof. Not until those fans built small bleachers and started charging other fans to sit there.
Meetings between neighborhood fans, the Cubs and the city of Chicago, finally led to a peaceful settlement.
Wrigley Field Dimensions:
The left field foul line meets the wall 355 feet from home plate.
Both of the "power alleys" in left and right center are at 368 feet. Center Field stands at 400 feet. The backstop is 60 feet behind home plate.
There have been many "moments" in Wrigley Field's "storied" history.
On June 26, 1920, in a high school baseball championship game, a 17 year old Lou Gehrig belted a grandslam.
In game 3 of the 1932 World Series, Babe Ruth hit his legendary "called shot" to center field.
On May 12, 1955, Cubs pitcher Sam Jones had a no hitter going into the ninth inning. He walked the bases loaded before striking out the side to complete his no hitter.
In 1960, the Cubs aquired pitcher Don Cardwell. On May 15, in his first appearance for the Cubs, cardwell pitched a no hitter.
On August 19, 1969, Ken Holtzman pitches another Cubs no hitter.
Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks slugs his 500th home run on May 12, 1970 against the Atlanta Braves.
On April 16, 1972, Burt Hooten joins the no hit club, beating the Phillies 4-0.
On April 17, 1976, the Cubs have a commanding 13-2 lead over the Phillies. The Phils set a record for biggest deficit over come to tie the score at 15-15. Philadelphia scores 3 in the tenth on Mike Schmidt's 4th home run of the game to win the game 18-16.
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