Archive for the ‘ Experience Wrigley Field ’ Category

1000 Words: Wayne Newton at the Confines

Newton

You’ve got to give it to entertainer Wayne Newton: The man certainly knows how to make an entrance. He stopped by Wrigley Field today to throw out the first pitch and to promote Las Vegas travel.

Wrigley Field Smokies are back

Wrigley-Field-Smokies-Grill-Cart

It’s been a long time coming, but the Smokie is back at the Friendly Confines.

The Chicago Cubs and Vienna Beef have partnered to introduce Wrigley Field Smokies, a menu item that will spark memories for fans who remember the aroma of smoked sausages being grilled at the ballpark decades ago.

Levy Restaurants will serve Wrigley Field Smokies at the newly re-branded grill cart near Aisle 108 in Wrigley Field’s main concourse beginning this homestand and continuing throughout the season. Wrigley Field Smokies will also be available in retail locations throughout the Chicago area within the next several weeks.

“We are very excited to team up with the Chicago Cubs to bring back the Smokies to Wrigley Field this year,” said Vienna Beef Chairman Jim Bodman. “For decades, fans enjoyed great-tasting smoked sausages while they took in a game at the ballpark. They’ll be able to savor that smoky flavor once again both at Wrigley Field and at home from their local supermarket.”

Actor Bill Murray once told Vine Line the sausages were a favorite of his when he would visit the stadium as a child, and he couldn’t wait for the Cubs to bring them back.

“Our fans have been asking if we’d bring smoked sausages back to Wrigley Field for years,” added Chicago Cubs Vice President of Sales and Partnerships Colin Faulkner. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with Vienna Beef to bring back a piece of our history in a new and delicious way.”

Vienna Beef, the Official Hot Dog of Wrigley Field, will celebrate Hot Dog Month in July through promotions and giveaways at the ballpark.

In addition to the Wrigley Field Smokies, the Cubs and their culinary team have put a historical twist on the fan favorite with the Decade Dogs, 10 specially designed hot dogs piled high with toppings linked to the particular decade being recognized at the park.

“It’s fun. People react to it in a positive way,” Bodman said. “Vienna has been around for 130 years, baseball has been around for over 160 years, so if somebody can come up with something that’s different, that combines these two things, it obviously [gets] you thinking they’re attempting to do something outside the norm.”

Many of the upcoming decades’ hot dogs have actually been available throughout the season, including the 1960s Buffalo Wing Dog and the 1970s Pulled Pork Dog. Meanwhile, the 1980s Nacho Dog and the 1990s Bagel Dog will only be around during the ’80s- and ’90s-themed homestands. Fans searching for these unique concessions can find them next to Gate F near Section 123.

“I think when you start getting into some of the decades that represent the lives of the current fans, it’s going to be more thrilling than even the stuff of the 1930s and the 1940s,” Bodman said.

1950s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 6/20/14-6/28/14

Ernie-Banks-Debut-Bobblehead
The upcoming homestand at Wrigley Field kicks off with an impressive list of guests this Friday, June 20, as the Cubs host the Pirates, Reds and Nationals for the 1950s-themed celebration. The Cubs will welcome in everyone from superfan Jeff Garlin to TV host Chelsea Handler to pop superstar Sting for the 10-game set.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines this week.

1950s Homestand Recap, June 20-28

Friday, June 20, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Ernie Banks Debut Bobblehead presented by Giordano’s (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitches: Aloe Blacc (singer/songwriter of top hits like “The Man” and “Wake Me Up”), Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and Wayne Newton for Las Vegas
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Ernie Banks and Tom Morello
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com
  • Community Event: Hot Stove Cool Music

Saturday, June 21, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 6:15 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs T-shirt presented by Cooper Tires (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitch: Comedian/television host Chelsea Handler
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Comedians Chelsea Handler and Josh Wolf
  • Broadcast: FOX-TV, WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com
  • Community Event: Catch in the Confines presented by Advocate Children’s Hospital

Sunday, June 22, Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1953 Cubs and Pirates uniforms
  • Promotion: 1950s Throwback Cubs Mr. Potato Head Keychain (first 5,000 kids 13-and-under). First 1,000 kids 13-and-under run the bases postgame, weather permitting.
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Former Cubs third baseman Kevin Orie
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Monday, June 23, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 7:05 p.m.

  • Seventh-inning stretch: Sting
  • Broadcast: WCIU-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, June 24, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Salute to Heroes Night
  • First pitches and seventh-inning stretch: Actors LaRoyce Hawkins and Jon Seda from NBC’s Chicago P.D., and Joe Minoso and Christian Stolte from Chicago Fire
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, June 25, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 6:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Halfway to the Holidays
  • First pitch: Chef Graham Elliot
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Jeff Garlin and Sean Giambrone from ABC’s The Goldbergs
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, June 26, Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals, 7:05 p.m.

  • Special Event: Teacher Appreciation Night
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Former Cubs outfielder Bobby Dernier
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Friday, June 27, Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Wrigley Field 100 Tote Bag presented by MLB Network (first 20,000 fans)
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Kristian Bush from the country group Sugarland
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com
  • Community Event: Cubs Favorite Things basket auction by Cubs Wives

Saturday, June 28, Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals, Doubleheader, 12:05 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.

12:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: American Girl Doll-sized Cubs Apparel (first 4,000 kids 13-and-under)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Former Cubs outfielder George Altman
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

6:15 p.m.

  • First pitch and Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: FOX-TV, WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

 

 

 

From the Pages of Vine Line: Wrigley Field and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League

Women-play-ball-at-Cubs-Park

The following article appears in the June issue of Vine Line. The Cubs will salute the girls of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Friday at Wrigley Field.

With her glove in hand and her head on a swivel, a young woman from Cincinnati stood on hallowed baseball ground and awaited her big break in a steady rain.

Crack! A batter pummeled a fly ball that soared to her left, and the 22-year-old sprinted after it in the wet grass. Crack! Another ball sailed to her right, and she lunged. Crack! Yet another flew high over her head, and the gifted athlete took off once again.

“You had to run about a mile to get the ball,” said retired schoolteacher Betsy Jochum with a chuckle. “It was quite a thrill to try out on that field.”

That field, of course, was Wrigley Field, and those fundamental drills triggered a movement that would dispel the popular notion that girls were not cut out for sports. Jochum was among a group of women trying out for 60 spots in the newly formed All-American Girls Softball League, according to the Chicago Tribune.

It was 1943, and as big league baseball clubs ceded talent to the war effort, front offices scrambled to fill the void. Scouts were dispatched to the coasts, Midwestern cornfields and even Canada to mold a new league. The ballplayers—some still in their teens—came by train and were run ragged on the field. Dreams were made, hearts were broken, fans were entranced, and a rocketing 12-inch softball cracked the old boys’ club wide open.

“At the time, we were just having a lot of fun playing,” Jochum, now 93 years old, said in a telephone interview from her home in South Bend, Indiana. “Later on, they told us we were pioneers.”

* * * *
The plan was hatched for practical, decidedly unromantic reasons. Executives simply needed a way to fill stadium seats.

Chicago Cubs owner and team president Philip K. Wrigley, a business-minded numbers man, found himself staring at a deficit in 1942. The front lines of World War II were plucking MLB’s best and brightest from the rosters, and Wrigley knew that old-timers, nobodies, rookies and the 4-F would hardly excite his fan base. He worried postwar teams would be weaker or could possibly fold altogether, and large ballparks such as his, which stood empty for more than half the year anyway, would be history.

“[The league] came about not because he wanted to do the right thing,” said Cubs historian Ed Hartig. “Baseball shutting down was a very real fear.”

Organizations were just recovering from the Great Depression, and the war threatened to gut professional baseball so drastically there were fears it might never rebound.

As chief of a chewing gum empire, Wrigley had a knack for solving problems. Summer softball leagues, for men and women alike, were popular in Chicago, and the swelling interest in the sport got him thinking—why not start a pro league for women?

He and Ken Sells, assistant to the Cubs general manager and the new league’s future president, drummed up the idea of marrying softball with some of baseball’s rules. There would be nine players on the field rather than 10, and they would play a full nine innings instead of seven. But the league would also feature a shorter pitching distance, underhand pitching, a bigger ball and a shorter distance between bases. Wrigley pitched his idea to the other owners, but even with the dangling carrot of filling their parks, the idea went over like a lead rosin bag.

“The Wrigleys were a lot better off financially,” Hartig said. “They were a little more willing to experiment.”

With minimal support outside of his own office, Wrigley plowed ahead. He secured four cities that each agreed to pony up $22,500 in financing, which would be matched by Wrigley himself. In February 1943, the league’s formation was made public.

Based in Chicago, the All-American Girls Softball League—the name changed several times, eventually landing on All-American Girls Professional Baseball League—comprised four Midwestern teams and would do its own marketing, player recruiting, training, signing and allocating. The women were offered one-year contracts by the league, not their individual clubs.

Wrigley had never been short on cash, but his financial stake in the league was enough to send a tremor through even the deepest pockets. In addition to his initial investment, he ran the league as a nonprofit, redirecting all proceeds to the war effort. If any team was in the red, Wrigley made up the difference himself. Hartig noted that the Cubs owner spent between $135,000 and $200,000 on the venture by his tenure’s end.

“It was pretty much guaranteed not to be a moneymaker,” Hartig said. “But [Wrigley] was pleased with what he had done.”

* * * *
On that dreary mid-May day in 1943, Betsy Jochum and the other invited talent swung bats and shagged balls at Wrigley Field, trying to nab one of the 15 coveted spots on each club. Days were spent sweating on the field, while evenings found the women knee-deep in etiquette training, which was designed to teach them the finer points of being “ladies.” This included the art of walking in high heels, applying make-up and sitting in a proper, ladylike manner.

The women were chaperoned on any social outings, and they were forbidden from smoking and drinking hard liquor in public. They were to wear dresses outside of the ballpark (and inside the park, thanks to their fashion-forward belted tunic uniforms).

Tryouts wrapped up on May 25, and the season began just five days later. The Racine Belles, Kenosha Comets, Rockford Peaches and South Bend Blue Sox, where Jochum played for six seasons as an outfielder and pitcher, were officially playing professional ball.

Games drew about 2,000-3,000 fans initially, with one July 4 doubleheader in South Bend bringing in close to 10,000, Jochum recalled. Though the league was formed in part to fill major league ballparks, the women’s teams had their own fields and played in the big stadiums only for special events.

The Racine Belles clinched the ’43 title, and the 108-game season (54 games per team) wrapped with attendance reaching nearly 176,000 leaguewide, according to the AAGPBL.

Wartime games had an especially patriotic bent, with the women lining up in a V formation (for victory) before play began. Servicemen and -women were admitted free of charge, and exhibition games were often played to benefit the armed forces or the Red Cross.

Etiquette training was ongoing, as was extensive promotion of the women as ladylike girls next door. The average age of the players hovered around 21, and they earned between $45-85 per week, a decent living in those days. In the offseason, they were likely to stay in their team’s town, taking on a factory job or something similar, said Jeneane Lesko, a former player and the president of the AAGPBL Players Association.

Competition was intense, with rivalries almost guaranteed given how infrequently the teams were able to socialize with one another. Lesko recalled clearing both benches when she nearly beaned an opponent with a wild pitch, but the managers broke up the scrum before it got physical.

“Oh, it was major league,” said the 79-year-old Lesko. “The competitiveness was there.”

As the seasons progressed, the game looked less and less like softball. The pitching distances increased, the ball size decreased and overhand pitching was instituted. Certain players emerged as powerhouse fan favorites, and clubs even reported to Spring Training in Florida and Cuba. After Wrigley divested himself and Arthur Meyerhoff took over operations as the war drew to a close, the league expanded to 10 teams. In 1948, attendance reached 1 million.

“After they saw we really could play,” Jochum said of the fans, “they knew.”

* * * *
Over the run of the league, there were 15 different teams—the dismal Chicago Colleens even graced the Windy City for one season in ’48. But changes in leadership, the end of wartime rationing and the incursion of television sets into American households dealt the AAGPBL a fatal blow. The organization had been decentralized, and team owners were feeling the sting of dwindling attendance.

The league quietly folded after the ’54 season—so quietly, in fact, that by the following April, many players still assumed they would be on the field again in a month, Lesko said. As the teams disbanded, some women went back to their hometowns, some stayed in their affiliate towns, and others headed to college and pursued careers. Jochum quit after the ’48 season when she learned she had been traded, but opted to stay in South Bend.

Lesko, a southpaw, was still active when the AAGPBL dissolved and then joined a traveling league that played barnstorming games in the U.S. and Canada. She quit after two years, taught school overseas, and returned to the States to play in the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour. She eventually married, had three sons, worked in real estate and became involved in the AAGPBL Players Association. The Seattle resident is currently serving as the association’s president, and she is active in the organization, formation and promotion of women’s professional ball leagues. Up until this year, she was still playing softball.

“Our purpose is to promote the AAGPBL and to promote women’s baseball,” Lesko said. “To ensure our place in history, and to help other girls have an opportunity to play sports.”

Lesko has made the league’s legacy her mission, traveling around the world for tournaments, organizing AAGPBL yearly reunions and assisting with other high-profile gigs, such as the salute to the AAGPBL that will take place at Wrigley Field on June 6. Of the 600 women who played in the league, roughly 150 remain, and just a handful will head to Chicago to be honored before the Cubs take on the Brewers. “Sockem Jochum” has been asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on the field where her career began more than seven decades ago.

“Well, I’m going to attempt it,” Jochum said with a chuckle. “I’ll just bounce it into the catcher’s mitt.”

—Kerry Trotter

From the Pages of Vine Line: Stretching out with Jeff Garlin

Garlin

The following can be found in the Short Stops section of the June issue of Vine Line. (Photo by Stephen Green)

Comedian. Actor. Cubs fan. That’s probably the best way to describe Jeff Garlin (though maybe not in that order). He is such a big fan of the team, he even enjoys hanging around the Friendly Confines when the Cubs are out of town. Vine Line caught up with the funnyman during the opening series to discuss why he keeps coming back to Wrigley and how little he likes seeing Ryne Sandberg in a Phillies uniform.

Vine Line: What’s it like for you to spend an afternoon at Wrigley Field?

Jeff Garlin: The idea that you’re here for a game is amazing. But when I come by here, on a day when the Cubs are even out of town … I remember once even being here, eating an ice cream bar—it was 10 degrees outside—eating an ice cream bar with my friend right by the entrance to Wrigley, just because. It makes me happy.

VL: Who’s your all-time favorite Cub?

JG: Well, I have a bunch—Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins, Glenn Beckert, Don Kessinger. The point being I just love the Cubs. … But I guess my favorite all-time Cub if I were to pick one would be Ron Santo. When I met him—I met him quite a few times, singing and being here—every time I left the booth, he stood up to shake my hand. Mind you, that’s a guy with no legs standing up to shake my hand. So from that moment on, I always get up. Always.

VL: In addition to your other jobs, I’ve heard you enjoy photography. How did you get into that?

JG: I was watching Colin Greenwood. He’s the bass player for Radiohead. I was hanging out with him, and he just loved taking pictures. I sort of had started a little bit, and he inspired me more. Then, over the years, I’ve gotten more and more into it. I don’t show anybody my pictures though. I’m not good enough yet. Someday I’ll have a book, do an exhibition.

VL: How does it feel seeing Ryne Sandberg in a Phillies uniform?

JG: I’ve ignored it, which means I’m not looking for it. I don’t want to see it. I don’t like the way it feels … just knowing he’s the manager of the Phillies. I’m happy he’s got a gig, but I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. It really makes me nuts, more so than I even thought. I thought I’d be cool with it. I’m not cool with it. The manager, [Rick] Renteria, seems like a great guy, a really good manager. But I just love Ryne Sandberg. He’s Ryno, gosh!

VL: If you were allowed to take one souvenir from Wrigley Field, what would it be?

JG: The scoreboard. [I’d put it] in the front of my house, put it on the ground, lean it back. That’s where it would be. I’d lay it on an angle, and I’d clean it. But I’d let things grow on it over time.

1940s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 6/3/14-6/8/14

AAGPBL-Bobblehead[1]

On June 6, the first 10,000 fans will receive an All-American Girls Professional Baseball League bobblehead.

An exciting collection of historical figures and celebrities will visit Wrigley Field for the 1940s-themed homestand. Actor Joe Mantegna kicks off the home slate by leading the seventh-inning stretch on Tuesday, June 3. This homestand also marks the beginning of the team’s Friday 3:05 p.m. summer start times. The Cubs will host a 6:05 p.m. game Thursday, June 5, vs. the Mets and 3:05 p.m. game Saturday, June 7, vs. the Marlins. Fans are advised to check the team’s schedule at cubs.com to ensure they arrive in time for first pitch.

Here are the other guests and promotions you’ll find at the Friendly Confines this week.

1940s Homestand Recap: June 3-8
Tuesday, June 3, Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets, 7:05 p.m.

  • Seventh-inning stretch: Actor Joe Mantegna
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, June 4, Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets, 7:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Cooler Bag Presented by Kraft Cheese (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitches and seventh-inning stretch: Stan Hack’s sons, Stan Hack Jr. and Dave Hack
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, June 5, Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets, 6:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: Jersey Off Our Back presented by Majestic, Lucky Seat Winners
  • First pitches: Actress Nicola Peltz and actor Jack Reynor from Transformers: Age of Extinction
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Friday, June 6, Chicago Cubs vs. Miami Marlins, 3:05 p.m.

  • Promotion: All-American Girls Bobblehead (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitches: Betsy Jochum and Jeneane Lesko of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
  • Seventh-inning stretch: 10 former players from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (Terry Donahue, Ginger Gascon, Marilyn Jenkins, Betsy Jochum, Dolly Konwinski, Jeneane Lesko, Joyce McCoy, Toni Palermo, Ferne Price and Terry Uselman)
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, June 7, Chicago Cubs vs. Miami Marlins, 3:05 p.m.

  • First pitch: Former Cub Lennie Merullo from the 1945 World Series team
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Lennie Merullo and members of his family
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, June 8, Chicago Cubs vs. Miami Marlins, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1942 Cubs uniform, 1940s-inspired Miami Sun Sox opponent uniform
  • Promotions: Andy Pafko OYO® Mini Figure (first 5,000 kids ages 6-13). First 1,000 kids 13 and under run the bases postgame (weather permitting).
  • Special Event: Little League Appreciation Day
  • First pitch and seventh-inning stretch: Andy Pafko’s nephew, Mike Nedoba
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

For more information on Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, please visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

 

Cubs keep the party going through the 1940s

JuniorLakeConvention

Junior Lake sports the 1942 Cubs jersey at the 2014 Convention. (Photo by Stephen Green)

Wrigley Field will continue its 100th birthday celebration June 3-8 as the Cubs host a 1940s decade-inspired homestand against the New York Mets and Miami Marlins. The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty food and beverage offerings, and entertainment will mirror the sights and sounds of the 1940s at Wrigley Field.

This June homestand will mark the beginning of a special month-long campaign by Kraft Cheese, which is celebrating 100 years of cheese-making this month. To commemorate the centennials of both Kraft Cheese and Wrigley Field, Kraft will donate $100 to Cubs Charities for every opposing batter a Cubs pitcher strikes out at Wrigley Field in the month of June. These funds will benefit Cubs Charities programs focusing on health, fitness and education for at-risk youth and families. Kraft Cheese will distribute “K” cards to help celebrate each strikeout during that night’s game against the Mets.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, June 8, the Cubs will wear a throwback uniform from 1942—the last year the team wore its uniform with a unique zipper vest and blue undershirt. This uniform also features a “Health” patch that was worn by teams that year to promote the “Hale America” fitness campaign.

The visiting Miami Marlins will wear a uniform inspired by the Miami Sun Sox, a minor league team in Florida during the late 1940s and 1950s.

Promotional Giveaways:
Fans coming to the ballpark this homestand have the chance to collect a number of unique promotional items, starting with the Cubs Cooler Bag presented by Kraft for the first 10,000 fans in the ballpark Wednesday, June 4. On Thursday, June 5, randomly-selected Lucky Seat winners will win jerseys worn by the Cubs that day during Majestic’s Jersey Off Our Back Lucky Seat promotion.

Bobblehead Fridays and Throwback Sundays featuring retro kids toys continue this homestand. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League will be honored June 6 with a bobblehead for the first 10,000 fans. On June 8, the first 5,000 kids ages 6-13 will receive an OYO® Mini Figure of Andy Pafko, a five-time All-Star and member of the 1945 World Series team. The first 1,000 kids 13-and-under can run the bases after the game.

Special Event:
On Sunday, June 8, Little League Appreciation Day will feature specially priced Terrace Reserved Outfield tickets with the opportunity for uniformed players ages 13-and-under to run the bases postgame (weather permitting). For group sales of 15 guests or more, $3 per each ticket sold will be donated back to the participating league. Each child that attends will receive an exclusive Cubs youth sports band.

Special Event tickets must be purchased at cubs.com/specialevents in order to participate.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1940s homestand features a Kraft Monte Cristo Sandwich, which includes Ham and Kraft Aged Cheddar and Provolone cheeses served on Texas toast dipped in egg batter. The other homestand special is Kraft’s Loaded Homestyle Mac and Cheese with artichokes and pulled chicken.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving Corn Dog Nibblers, which are deep-fried Vienna Beef mini corn dogs.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy a 1940s Day Game Cocktail—a variation of a Hurricane, made with Captain Morgan Rum, Meyers Dark Rum and Finest Call Hurricane Mix. The Day Game will be served in limited-edition souvenir glasses from June 3-8 on the main concourse at Section 109 and on the bleacher patio in left field.

Historic Moments:
Many historic moments and firsts occurred inside the ballpark during the 1940s. On April 26, 1941, the Cubs became the first team to have an organist playing inside their ballpark.

For two consecutive weekends in January 1944, Clark and Addison was home to the Norge Ski Club’s 38th annual invitational ski jump tournament. A jump was assembled from scaffolding and covered in snow and ice. Skiers started their descent near today’s broadcast booth and landed behind second base.

For five summer afternoons and evenings in June 1946, Wrigley Field became home to a rodeo and thrill circus that featured some of the best riders in the world. More than 900 cowboys, cowgirls, Hollywood daredevils, and Sioux Indians rode bulls and broncos and performed rope tricks and stunts.

Wrigley Field hosted its largest paid regular-season crowd in history May 18, 1947, when 46,572 fans packed the park to watch Jackie Robinson make his Chicago debut for the visiting Dodgers. Later that year, Wrigley Field hosted its first All-Star game with Andy Pafko and Phil Cavarretta representing the Cubs.

To learn more about these historic moments and others visit wrigleyfield100.com.

Tickets for both the Mets and Marlins series remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

Hot Off the Presses: June 2014 issue featuring Starlin Castro

VL1406_Cover_newstand

Sometimes the gap between perception and reality can be exceedingly wide. What’s visible from the outside is often much different from what is being experienced on the inside.

Case in point, there are essentially two Starlin Castros.

There’s the Starlin Castro the fans see and have a love-hate relationship with. The one who is perceived by some as uncommitted, unfocused and inconsistent.

Much of this characterization is, of course, informed by the 2013 season. After two All-Star campaigns from 2011-12, in which Castro compiled 390 hits and earned a seven-year, $60 million contract, things went off the rails a little last year. Castro slipped to a .245/.284/.347 (AVG/OBP/SLG) line, often looking lost at the plate, bereft of the trademark confidence that defined his early career. That regression, coupled with some defensive lapses, have placed the 24-year-old’s every move under the fan and media microscope.

But there’s another Starlin Castro as well—the player his teammates see. This is the Castro who is putting up remarkable early-career numbers, goes to the post every day, is eager to learn, and brings constant energy and excitement to the clubhouse.

“He’s one of those guys who’s the face of the team,” said Cubs catcher and longtime teammate Welington Castillo. “I know a lot of people got on him last year, but that’s in the past. We have to move forward. It brings a lot of confidence for the team when he’s playing like this, when you see Starlin on the field. That’s a guy that never wants to be out of the lineup. He wants to play every day, no matter what. So he brings a lot of energy and a lot of positivity to the team.”

Through his age-23 season—which, as we all know, includes one very off year—the Cubs shortstop had compiled 692 hits. To put that into perspective, by age 23, Hank Aaron had 718 hits, Cal Ripken Jr. had 569, Derek Jeter had 385, and all-time hits leader Pete Rose had just 309.

In other words, the guy can rake. It’s difficult to fluke your way into 700 big league hits before you’re old enough to rent a car.
And through the first month-plus of the 2014 season, Castro looked to be back to his early-career form. His aggressiveness is back, and that has Cubs personnel excited about the future. For the June issue of Vine Line, we talk to Castro’s teammates, coaches and the man himself to find out what has triggered the young star’s resurgence.

As part of our ongoing Wrigley 100 series, we also go back to the 1940s at the Friendly Confines, when a group of trailblazing women turned the baseball world upside down. With World War II rationing taking its toll on major league attendance and players being redirected to the war effort, Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley and other executives were desperate for a way to reinvigorate the game. Enter the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, popularized in the 1992 film A League of Their Own. We examine the role Cubs ownership and Wrigley Field played in the formation and life of the league.

Finally, with Father’s Day on the horizon, we get a little sentimental. Baseball is a tradition that has always been passed down from fathers to sons. To celebrate the holiday, we talk to current Cubs players about the impact their fathers have had on their lives and careers. Needless to say, when the Cubs take the field 162 times a year, there are some pretty excited dads out there.

For more in-depth stories about the Cubs organization, pick up the June issue of Vine Line, or subscribe for just $29.95. You can also find us on Twitter at @cubsvineline.

—Gary Cohen

From the Pages of Vine Line: Philip K. Wrigley’s lasting impact on the Cubs and Wrigley Field

Stadiums-Wrigley-Field-Chicago-1938_3119.99_CSU

In the emotional last throes of the chewing gum magnate’s life, while the Great Depression dug its claws deeper into Chicago’s big shoulders, William Wrigley Jr. made his only son promise him one thing.

Do not sell his beloved Chicago Cubs to pay the inheritance taxes.

The elder Wrigley’s illness and subsequent death at age 70 in 1932 were swift and unexpected, a wake-up call to his 37-year-old heir, Philip K. Wrigley, who did not have his father’s passion for baseball but shared his shrewd business sense.

Wrigley had already accepted the mantle of president of his father’s chewing gum company, and now, by death and default—and a sometimes-troublesome sense of loyalty—he was the Chicago Cubs’ majority stockholder and owner.

“He liked baseball. He was around baseball. He just didn’t view himself as a baseball person,” said Chicago Cubs historian Ed Hartig. “I think if P.K. had his way, he would have been an engineer.”

But he was first and foremost a Wrigley, and as a member of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, he had a duty to fulfill.

And that duty was to the Cubs.

* * * *
Simply put, Philip Knight Wrigley opened his eyes in the right crib. Born in 1894 at Chicago’s Plaza Hotel to a family of great wealth and influence, he never wanted for much.

“He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” Hartig said.

With that spoon came a secure job at the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company and leisure time to pursue his love of horses and boats, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. He was a low-level stockholder in his father’s baseball enterprise and stood to inherit Wrigley Field and the breathtaking Catalina Island off the Los Angeles coast. Even after the stock market crash of 1929 sunk the country’s economy, the Wrigleys fared well because they had avoided extensive dealings with banks, Hartig said.

Workers who lost their livelihoods in the meat, railroad and steel industries began to organize in the city, as hostility toward the wealthy swelled.

“Chicago was one of the major centers of left-wing agitation,” said Peter Alter, an archivist with the Chicago History Museum. “Socialists and communists were strong in Chicago.”

But the Wrigleys weren’t necessarily viewed as bad guys, Alter added. They were rich and powerful, but they still contributed to the city’s goodwill.

After all, the family had one of the few businesses that—though it did not necessarily flourish during the Depression—held on to its employees. The Wrigleys also owned the Cubs, a team that won pennants in 1929 and ’32 (and later in ’35 and ’38), often to half-capacity crowds thinned by hard times. But by 1933, the team and the company were under the direction of Philip K. Wrigley, a man who routinely veered from the trappings of coddled wealth.

“The way people viewed him was he was not your typical baseball owner,” Alter said. “He was not a Comiskey.”

Wrigley, despite his wealth, enjoyed a “normal” streak. He never went to college and eventually joined the military, where he became a mechanic. He got married, had three kids and plugged away at the family’s gum company, but he lacked pretense about his success. He was a loyal employer, even as competing businesses shuttered and sales slowed. He had a generous streak, giving great chunks of money to charities and interests and turning his father’s beloved Southern California island into a conservancy.

Wrigley’s father, William Wrigley Jr., wasn’t born a baseball fan but died the biggest Cubs booster around. He bought up shares of the team piecemeal until eventually he owned it outright. He also purchased the park, which the team leased from him.

As a sort of memorial to his father, Wrigley’s vow not to sell the team to pay inheritance taxes morphed into a blunt refusal to sell the team under any circumstances, despite some promising offers.

“He made a lot of decisions based on business principles,” Hartig said, “and not on sound baseball principles.”

Oftentimes that strategy worked; sometimes it didn’t.

* * * *

“Baseball is too much of a sport to be a business, and too much of a business to be a sport,” Philip K. Wrigley once said. This ambivalence showed in his leadership style and in how he kept the Cubs at emotional arm’s length.

When Wrigley started out as owner, he had the experienced Bill Veeck Sr. in his camp. Unfortunately, Veeck died only a year after Philip K. Wrigley took over, forcing the new owner to make his first big baseball decision—hiring a new president.

Wrigley chose longtime team investor and fishmonger William Walker, but it was a short and rocky arrangement. Though history looks back on Walker’s tenure more kindly, he sealed his fate with several questionable trades, for which he was vilified in the press. Wrigley bought him out, sent him packing and took over as president in 1934.

“God knows, I don’t want the job. If I could find another Bill Veeck, I’d put him in there in a minute, but he doesn’t seem to be available,” Wrigley said, according to an article published by the Society for American Baseball Research. “No matter who’s in there, if anything goes wrong, I’m going to get blamed for it, so I might as well take the job myself.”

While the team won three pennants in the ’30s, Wrigley was less occupied with Cubbie blue than ledger black.

“His father was at games a lot,” Hartig said. “P.K. very seldom went to games.”

This is ironic considering his marketing push early in his presidency, when he went to great lengths to sell “Beautiful Wrigley Field.”

Yes, there was Cubs baseball to see, but the park was also an experience to behold and to be sold, win or lose. Wrigley began purchasing ad space in Chicago newspapers in the middle of winter, a practice that was decried leaguewide. But he was planting the seeds for interest in games and getting on fans’ radar long before tickets went on sale.

While Wrigley was a bottom-line kind of guy, he was not miserly. He relished spending money for the sake of the park and fan comfort. Wrigley brought in bigger, more comfortable seats at the expense of capacity, had the bleachers rebuilt to improve sight lines and laid plans to “green” up the park, which eventually led to the addition of the iconic ivy.

Yet in the final days of pre-war baseball, Wrigley’s loyalty to commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis got the best of him, and it wound up costing the Cubs. Wrigley was the only owner to go along with a plan hatched by Landis to keep minor league teams from folding during the war by making them independent entities that could sell their players to the highest bidder. It didn’t work.

“P.K.’s decision to dismantle the farm system put him back 10 years,” Hartig said.

He also resisted adding night games to the schedule, partly because he felt they were a passing fad and partly because the born innovator hadn’t been the first person to come up with the idea. In 1941, he reluctantly purchased the most advanced lighting system in baseball, but after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he promptly donated the materials to the war effort. After that, the idea remained dormant for decades.

One feather in Wrigley’s innovation cap was the creation of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during World War II, tryouts for which were held at Wrigley Field in 1941. However, he was woefully behind on the matter of integration, taking a back seat while Jackie Robinson first donned a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform in 1947. The Cubs signed an African-American player to their Los Angeles farm team in 1949, but Chicago was still an all-white club until Ernie Banks took the field in 1953.

In the ’60s, Wrigley devised the curious College of Coaches experiment, in which the manager was replaced by a rotating roster of head coaches who would assume the lead every few weeks. The intent was to create good all-around players who had access to a number of intelligent voices, but it just wound up confusing the team and encouraging favoritism.

Ultimately, it was television that made Wrigley’s legacy.

After World War II, he began pushing the idea of televising games. Just as his father had pioneered radio broadcasts amid criticism, the younger Wrigley was convinced that seeing was believing when it came to his beautiful ballpark, and that broadcasting games on TV would cultivate fandom. It worked, and the team’s relationship with WGN, which went on to become a “superstation” transmitted around the country, birthed fans for both the team and the park far from the Lakeview neighborhood.

* * * *
The promise to his father, at once bold and uncertain, remained steadfast. Philip K. Wrigley did not sell William Wrigley Jr.’s beloved team, nor the gum empire he built, during his 60-plus years steering both ships. Even when the team entered a dark period of losses and mismanagement, he largely did right by his father. And the family business, where his true talents lay, thrived.

Not every decision Philip K. Wrigley made was sound. There were mistakes and missed opportunities. But he gave freely of his significant wealth, created Cubs fans nationwide and made Wrigley Field a destination for fans around the world.
In the end, he kept his word.

—Kerry Trotter

Cubs release updated renderings of the restored Wrigley Field

The Cubs Tuesday unveiled new designs for the highly anticipated restoration of Wrigley Field. The most notable addition to the plan is for seven signs to go up behind the bleachers in the outfield.

Along with the new signage, the Cubs plan to fully renovate the clubhouse, which will be located under the new triangle plaza to the west of the stadium. New batting tunnels, a video room, an exam room and other amenities will all be included.

Additionally, the bullpens will be moved from the field to underneath the bleachers. The Cubs say the project will be completed in four years.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,554 other followers