Wrigley Field History

In 1920, Weeghman Park becomes known as Cubs Park, after chewing gum magnet William Wrigley buys out the remainder of Charles Weeghman’s share of the club. The park would undergo yet another name change in 1926 when it becomes Wrigley Field.

Instead of becoming one of the first teams to install lights, the Cubs went on to become the last, finally getting them in 1988. 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.

Wrigley Field was home to 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.

Wrigley Field was home to 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.

Originally known as Weeghman Park, Wrigley Field was built on the grounds once occupied by a seminary.

Before they were the “Cubs,” Chicago’s north side ball club was knows as both the “Federals” and the “Whales.”

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 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.

The 27-foot-high, 75-foot-wide scoreboard was built in 1937 by Bill Veeck. Its top is 85 feet above the field. The 10-foot-diameter clock was added in 1941. No batted ball has ever hit the 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 (who constructed the scoreboard) 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 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).

Wrigley is affected by wind conditions more than any other major league park. Breezes off Lake Michigan favor pitchers, but winds blowing toward Lake Michigan take homers with them.

During the 1930s, grounds superintendent Bobby Dorr lived in a six room apartment at the ballpark, adjacent to the left-field corner gate; Cubs traveling secretary Bob Lewis later lived there; the apartment is still there and is now used by the food services group at the park.