Archive for the ‘ Experience Wrigley Field ’ Category

Cubs set to honor the 1960s at Wrigley Field

BWilliams

It’s a shame the 1960s-themed homestand will only last only one weekend, especially considering the amount of success the home teams had at Wrigley Field during the decade. While the Cubs had a strong 10-year stretch, it was the NFL’s Chicago Bears that hoisted a championship trophy in 1963, winning the league behind players like Bobby Wade and Mike Ditka.

This weekend, Cubs will host a quick three-game, 1960s-themed series against the Atlanta Braves from July 11-13 leading into Major League Baseball’s All-Star break. The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty food and beverage offerings, and entertainment will all mirror the sights and sounds of the 1960s at Wrigley Field as part of the season-long celebration of the ballpark’s 100th anniversary. Each game in the series includes a promotional giveaway, offering fans a chance to collect an item commemorating the ’60s decade at the ballpark.

On Friday, July 11, Cubs fans will be able to congratulate 2014 All-Star representative Starlin Castro as he receives his All-Star jersey from Majestic. The team and its fans are pushing for Anthony Rizzo to join the festivities in Minneapolis through MLB’s Final Vote campaign. Fans can vote for Rizzo at mlb.com/vote or by texting N4 to 89269 until this Thursday at 3 p.m. CDT.

On Saturday, July 12, Cubs Charities and Kraft will extend the good feelings with a donation ceremony benefiting programs focused on health, fitness, and education for at-risk youth and families. In June, Kraft committed to donating $100 to Cubs Charities for every opposing batter a Cubs pitcher struck out at Wrigley Field. The Cubs pitching staff delivered 138 strikeouts at home (en route to a National League-leading 247 strikeouts for the month), resulting in a donation of $13,800.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, July 13, the Cubs will wear a throwback uniform from 1969 to honor some of the team’s most popular players from the era. That squad featured Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo and Billy Williams, as well as other Cubs legends. The visiting Atlanta Braves will wear a 1969 throwback uniform as well.

Promotional Giveaways:
Fans coming to the ballpark will have the chance to collect a unique promotional item at each game of the homestand, beginning with an exclusive Gale Sayers Bobblehead presented by Comcast SportsNet for the first 10,000 fans on Friday. On Saturday, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Billy Williams Retired Number Flag presented by Wrigley. On Sunday, the first 5,000 kids 13-and-under will receive a ’60s Throwback Cubs Etch-A-Sketch, and the first 1,000 kids in the park can run the bases postgame.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1960s homestand features a Kraft BBQ Pork Sandwich with Kraft Cheese and fried onions served on a toasted onion roll. Fans can also try the Traditional Buffalo Wings homestand special. These classic wings are tossed with Buffalo sauce and served with carrot and celery sticks along with ranch dipping sauce.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving the 1960s Buffalo Wing Dog—a Vienna Beef hot dog topped with diced chicken, buffalo sauce, crumbled bleu cheese and chopped celery. The Buffalo Wing Dog is available all season.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy an Alabama Ironman Cocktail. This modern twist on the Whiskey Sour, which pays homage to Billy Williams, is made with peach puree, lemon and lime juice.

Historic Moments:
Wrigley Field hosted many memorable baseball and non-baseball moments in the 1960s. The team also started an important tradition at the ballpark.

Wrigley Field hosted its final NFL Championship game in 1963 on a frigid, seven-degree day in December. The Bears beat the New York Giants 14-10 to take the title.

On Dec. 12, 1965, Gale Sayers tied an NFL record by scoring six touchdowns in a 61-20 rout of San Francisco on a muddy Wrigley Field.

In 1966, in his first game after being acquired by the Cubs, eventual Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins threw five scoreless innings in relief and belted a home run in a 2-0 victory over the visiting Dodgers.

In February 1967, the Cubs announced they would feature organ music and play the National Anthem before every home game. Before this, the National Anthem was only played on holidays and special occasions at Wrigley Field.

After completing a doubleheader sweep of the Cardinals on June 29, 1969, Billy Williams officially broke the National League record for consecutive games played with 896. His streak would eventually extend to 1,117 games. That same year, after tossing seven hitless innings against the Braves on Aug. 19, pitcher Ken Holtzman’s no-hitter looked lost as Hank Aaron connected on a deep fly ball. Luckily, a gust of wind knocked it down at the last second, and Billy Williams caught it on the warning track to preserve Holtzman’s career performance.

Tickets for the Braves series remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

 

1000 Words: A dense fog shrouds the Friendly Confines

Fog

(Photo by Stephen Green)

The last few nights at Wrigley Field have felt more like April than June, with temperatures in the low 60s. Thursday night’s game versus the Nationals was played under a heavy fog, captured here by team photographer Stephen Green.

 

Hot Off the Press: July VL featuring the best player from every decade at Wrigley Field

VL1407_Cover_newstand

I’m a sucker for nostalgia, which is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed this season at Wrigley Field so much. I have been looking forward to Wrigley’s 100th birthday for a few years now because I knew it would give Vine Line a chance to really delve into the organization’s history.

We not only produce the magazine, but we also create the scorecards sold at the Friendly Confines during every home series. To tie in with the Cubs’ 10 Decades, 10 Homestands promotion, we’ve been populating the covers with photos specific to the years being celebrated—which means we’ve spent countless hours searching the team’s photo archives for just the right shots.

When the Yankees were in town during the 1930s homestand, we found a picture from the 1932 World Series between the North Siders and the Bronx Bombers. When the Cubs were honoring the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during the 1940s series, we found a photo of the league’s tryouts, which were held at Wrigley Field in 1943.

In the interest of full disclosure, my home is littered with black-and-white photographs of everything from the Chicago Theater to my relatives during WWII to the Cubs at Spring Training on Catalina Island. I love this stuff, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t spent a few evenings looking through the photo archives just for fun.

In other words, this is probably something I shouldn’t get paid to do (though I probably don’t need to spread that news around).

Some of the things that caught my eye when we were planning our 2014 content for the magazine last year were the memorable program and scorecard covers the team used from the 1930s through the 1960s. We liked them so much, we decided to dedicate the valuable back page of the magazine (The Score) to featuring some of the best of the best this season.

When we wanted to learn more about the scorecards, we went to that amazing wellspring of arcane Cubs information from every era, team historian Ed Hartig, who has been an invaluable resource for all the historical content we’ve published this year. It turns out, for decades, most of the scorecard designs were the brainchild of one man, Otis Shepard, former art director for the William Wrigley Jr. Co. and longtime member of the Cubs board of directors. For our monthly Wrigley 100 feature, we look into the life and career of Shepard and how he came to design some of the Cubs’ most iconic images.

It’s also the July issue, which means it’s almost time for the Midsummer Classic. For our annual All-Star issue, we set out to find the most valuable Cubs player in each of Wrigley Field’s 10 decades. To do this, we used the stats website Fangraphs to compile the highest Wins Above Replacement totals for each decade. WAR essentially takes all of a player’s offensive and defensive efforts and outputs them into a single number designed to measure how many wins he provides over an average replacement player. There are definitely some names you would expect (I don’t think we could have a list like this without Mr. Cub), but there are also a few surprises (Rick Reuschel, anyone?).

Finally, Vine Line had a dream opportunity in May when the Yankees came to town. We worked with Yankees Magazine Editor-in-Chief Alfred Santasiere III to bring together two of the greatest shortstops the game has ever seen: Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. The legendary players sat down for a tête-à-tête that is every baseball fan’s dream come true.

Of course, we’re good for more than just history lessons. Follow us on Twitter at @cubsvineline for the best of the Cubs past, present and future.

And let’s keep that whole “shouldn’t get paid” thing between us.

—Gary Cohen

Home Series 12 Preview: Cubs vs. Reds

Billy-Hamilton2

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Reds were bitten by the injury bug early in 2014, with Mat Latos and Aroldis Chapman missing significant time. Somehow the team has managed to tread water while awaiting their return and currently finds itself at .500. Cincinnati has one of the best pitchers and one of the best hitters in the game in Johnny Cueto and Joey Votto, respectively. They also have speedster Billy Hamilton, who has the potential to be a very exciting player if he can continue to get on base. Still, the Reds have their work cut out for them if they hope to catch the streaking Brewers and the always-excellent Cardinals in a tough NL Central division.

PITCHING
(7th in NL, 3.8 RA/G)*

The Reds staff has been led by an absolutely dominant Johnny Cueto, and now Cincy will have its co-ace Latos back, as he recently returned from the DL after dealing with minor offseason elbow surgery. Former reliever Alfredo Simon has stepped in admirably and is currently tied for the NL lead in wins, and Mike Leake has been solid. The biggest surprise so far may be the struggles of Homer Bailey, who received a huge contract prior to the season. Closer Chapman began the year on the shelf, but Jonathan Broxton was strong in his stead. Chapman’s return has helped solidify things as the relievers return to more appropriate roles.

HITTING
(10TH IN NL, 3.9 RS/G)*

Joey Votto continues to be one of the toughest outs in baseball, having posted a .410 on-base percentage, and Devin Mesoraco has been a revelation when he’s stayed healthy and on the field. Though Jay Bruce has struggled with batting average, his ability to hit for power while taking walks has helped make him a valuable player. On the other side of the ledger, the middle infield has been an offensive black hole, with Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart both delivering sub-.700 OPSs. At the top of the order is Hamilton, who has game-changing speed, struggled to get on base early this season, but has upped his average to .273 and swiped 31 bases.

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.

 

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