Wrigley Field marks anniversaries
The “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field marks two noteworthy anniversaries this season: the ballpark turns 99 this season, while the bleachers, manually operated scoreboard, and ivy are turning 75.
Wrigley – originally Weeghman Park – hosted its first baseball game on Apr. 23, 1914, the Chicago Federals beating the Kansas City Packers 9-1. The teams were part of the Federal League, a third major league that lasted only two seasons.
When the Federal League folded, owner Charles Weeghman bought up the Chicago Cubs and moved them from the aging, wooden West Side Park to the recently vacated Federals’ field. The Cubs played their first game in the stadium on Apr. 20, 1916.
The ballpark went by the name “Cubs Park” from 1920 – 1926, when it was renamed to Wrigley Field after William Wrigley Jr. gained the controlling interest.
In 1937, the park was renovated to add the bleachers and scoreboard. The original scoreboard is still operating today – a staff of four climbs up and down ladders behind the board throughout the game, changing numbers for the 318 openings. That September, ivy was planted at the base of the outfield wall.
Wrigley Field is the only Federal League stadium still in use, the oldest National League stadium, and the second-oldest Major League stadium behind Fenway Park, which opened its doors in 1912.
It is the last Major League stadium to install lights – the Cubs played all their home games during the day until 1988.
The Cubs haven’t managed to win the World Series in their “new” stadium in 98 seasons, although they did go five times – most recently in 1945. The longest championship drought in professional sports dates all the way back to 1908 – an incredible 104 years!
In case you can’t tell, I am a Cardinals fan. Maybe next year, Cubbies. But happy anniversary to the other half of one of sports’ best rivalries.