History of Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field, which was built in 1914, is the second-oldest ballpark in the majors behind Boston’s Fenway Park (1912).
The Friendly Confines has been the site of such historic moments as:
Babe Ruth’s “called shot,” when Ruth allegedly pointed to a bleacher location during Game 3 of the 1932 World Series … Ruth then hit Charlie Root’s next pitch for a homer.
Gabby Hartnett’s famous “Homer in the Gloamin’ ” September 28, 1938, vs. Pittsburgh’s Mace Brown.
The great May 2, 1917, pitching duel between Jim “Hippo” Vaughn and the Reds’ Fred Toney … both Vaughn and Toney threw no-hitters for 9.0 innings before Cincinnati’s Jim Thorpe (of Olympic fame) drove in the only run in the 10th inning … Toney finished with a no-hitter.
Ernie Banks’ 500th career home run May 12, 1970, vs. Atlanta’s Pat Jarvis.
Pete Rose’s 4,191st career hit, which tied him with Ty Cobb for themost hits in baseball history … Rose singled off Reggie PattersonSeptember 8, 1985.
Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout affair in 1998.
Sammy Sosa’s 60th home runs in 1998, 1999 and 2001.
the 1947, 1962 and 1990 All-Star Games.
Originally known as Weeghman Park, Wrigley Field was built on the grounds once occupied by a seminary.
Weeghman Park was the home of Chicago’s entry in the Federal League and was the property of Charles H. Weeghman … the club was known as both the Federals and the Whales.
The cost of building Weeghman Park, which had a seating capacity of 14,000, was estimated at $250,000 … the infield and outfield consisted of more than 4,000 yards of soil and four acres of bluegrass.
The first major league game at the ballpark took place April 23, 1914, with the Federals defeating Kansas City 9-1 … the first homer in ballpark history was hit by Federals catcher Art Wilson – a 2-run shot in the 2nd inning off Kansas City’s Chief Johnson.
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.
The first National League game at the ballpark was played April 20, 1916, when the Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-6 in 11 innings … a bear cub was in attendance at the game.
The park became known as Cubs Park in 1920 after the Wrigley family purchased the team from Weeghman … 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 scoreboard remains intact.
The score-by-innings and the pitchers’ numbers are changed by hand … the numbers signaling batter, ball, strike and out, along with “H” and “E” to signify hit and error, are eyelets.
No batted ball has ever hit the centerfield scoreboard … two baseballs barely missed – a homer hit onto Sheffield Avenue (right-center) by Bill Nicholson in 1948, and one hit by Roberto Clemente onto Waveland Avenue (left-center) in 1959.
One of the traditions of Wrigley Field is the flying of a flag bearing a “W” or an “L” atop the scoreboard after a game … a white flag with a blue “W” indicates a victory; a blue flag with a white “L” denotes a loss.
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.
The bleacher wall is 11.5 feet high … the basket attached to the wall was constructed in 1970.
Ernie Banks’ uniform No. 14 and Ron Santo’s No. 10 are imprinted on flags which fly from the right field foul pole … Billy Williams’ No. 26 and Ryne Sandberg’s No. 23 fly from the left field foul pole.
Wrigley Field added lights in 1988.
The first night game took place August 8 against Philadelphia, but was rained out after 3 1/2 innings.
The first official night game occurred August 9 vs. New York, when the Cubs defeated the Mets by the score of 6-4.
In 2009, Wrigley Field will be celebrating its 22nd year of playing host to baseball under the lights.
Wrigley Field has also been the site of numerous construction projects since Tribune Company purchased the Cubs in 1981.
New office space was created and old offices refurbished in the administrative area behind home plate in 1981-1982, while 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.
In 1989, private boxes were constructed on the mezzanine level, formerly occupied by the press box and broadcasting booths … a press box and broadcasting booths were constructed in the upper deck directly behind home plate … other improvements included a food court in the upper deck.
Following renovations in 1994 and 1995, there are now 63 private boxes.
An elevator was added to the third base concourse in 1996.
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.
Height of wall:
Bleachers – 11.5 feet
In corners – 15.0 feet
Distances from plate:
Left field – 355 feet
Left-center – 368 feet
Center field – 400 feet
Right-center – 368 feet
Right field – 353 feet