Wrigley Field, nicknamed The Friendly Confines, is a “must see” when it comes to baseball stadiums. The ballpark oozes with history and tradition while the surrounding town radiates class and sophistication. Sporting unique features like an ivy wall, manually operated scoreboard, and rooftop seating, Wrigley Field immerses the spectator in an unparalleled experience, uniting the past and present.
Creating a Relic
Originally named Weeghman Park, Wrigley Field was built in 1914 to house the Chicago Whales, a baseball team belonging to the Federal Baseball League. The stadium at the time cost $250,000 to build. When the Federal League folded two years later, Charles Weeghman, the former Whales owner, joined William Wrigley Jr. and others to purchase the Chicago Cubs. He then immediately moved the team to the young ballpark. The first game played by the Cubs in Weegham Park was on April 20, 1916. After Wrigley purchased the team from Weegham in 1920, the stadium was renamed Cubs Park, and then in 1926 it was given the name Wrigley Field in honor of William Wrigley.
When you think of Wrigley Field, what comes to mind? The Cubbies, Wrigleyville, maybe some specific memory? For me it boils down to five things, the marquee sign outside the stadium, the surrounding rooftop seating, the manually operated scoreboard, the ivy, and most importantly, the loyalty of fans. All the unique features of the stadium help to enhance a fan’s visit, but the experience is truly made by the passionate fans supporting their team.
The surrounding rooftop seating adds to the friendly, relaxed atmosphere of the stadium. It is an awesome idea and serves as a representation of how the community supports and interacts with the Cubs organization. The rooftops are such a cute addition to the stadium and the people on them looked like they have an amazing time. Getting seats on one of the rooftops is definitely on my bucket list!
The manually operated scoreboard is one of the last remaining of its kind in baseball. Mounted above the bleachers in centerfield, it has never been hit by a baseball. The scoreboard was installed in 1937 when the bleachers were added. It has thus far stood the test of time, only undergoing minor additions. In 1941, the clock was added above the scoreboard, and then more lines for scores, and a small electronic message board followed suit in years to come. Scores are sent in to the scoreboard operator who is stationed in the scoreboard. That person then by hand replaces the numbers to update scores. It is awesome to watch and a very refreshing reminder of the “old days.” Above the scoreboard are three flagpoles, one for each division in the National League. On the poles are 15 flags, representing each of the teams. Their order reflects the current standings of the teams in each division. There have recently been talks about possibly demolishing the scoreboard and adding a jumbotron. Only time will tell the fate of this historic landmark.
Beautification in Baseball
You all have probably seen the commercial for State Farm Insurance last year where Kerry Wood pulls Andre Dawson from the ivy covering Wrigley’s home-run walls. That ivy is a staple of the stadium. You might have noticed during the first couple weeks of the baseball season that the ivy looked dead. No need to worry, it appears that way until further into spring when the leaves have a chance to grow out. The ivy, a mixture of Boston Ivy and Japanese Bittersweet, was planted in 1937 by the General Manager of the Cubs at the time Bill Veeck. The ivy, an idea modeled off of Perry Stadium in Indianapolis, was meant to “beautify” the bleachers that had been rebuilt that year. Wrigley Field is the only current professional baseball park with ivy-covered outfield walls.
While Wrigley Field serves as the setting and star of baseball games on afternoons in the summer, it also has played an important role in many well-known movies and tv shows. In addition to baseball and the big screen, Wrigley Field has housed football games, soccer matches, the hockey Winter Classic, and many concerts. It has been a witness to some of the biggest feats in the game of baseball. One of the most popular moments happened in game 3 of the 1932 World Series. The Colossus of Clout, The Sultan of Swat, The King of Clash, The Great Bambino, yes….Babe Ruth was up to bat. The story says that Ruth pointed to the outfield and on the next pitch, launched a home run to that same spot. Although in reality it is unknown where and what Ruth was actually pointing at, “calling your shot” is credited to this monumental statement.
As a baseball fan, it is a wonderful opportunity to visit the stadium and take part in such a rich tradition. Wrigley Field should be near the top of every baseball enthusiast’s list of stadiums to visit.