Results tagged ‘ Chicago Cubs ’
Jake Arrieta makes his 2015 debut against the Cardinals. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Cubs vs. Cardinals – Wrigley Field
First Pitch: 1:20 CST
Cubs Starter: Jake Arrieta, RHP
Cardinals Starter: Lance Lynn, RHP
Broadcast: ABC 7, Listen Live at WBBM 780
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Jorge Soler, RF
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Starlin Castro, SS
5. Chris Coghlan, LF
6. Miguel Montero, C
7. Arismendy Alcantara, 2B
8. Jake Arrieta, RHP
9. Tommy La Stella, 3B
There’s nothing like Opening Day (or Night) to get you excited for the season. The North Siders are coming off a huge offseason, and this was many fans’ first opportunity to see new manager Joe Maddon, prized free-agent lefty Jon Lester, leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler and the rest of the team in person. Plus, the Cubs were the nationally televised, ESPN2 Opening Night affair—the only game on the major league slate—and debuted the new 3,990-square-foot video board in left field. To make things even better, the Cardinals were in town, and it was Lester toeing the slab versus St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright. The house was packed, and it felt like a playoff atmosphere. If you couldn’t be at Wrigley Field Sunday night, Vine Line was there to give you a look at all the Opening Night festivities.
As the Cubs embark on a new relationship with CBS Radio WBBM-AM 780 this season, we look back at the team’s unique role in baseball’s earliest broadcasts and how a few forward-thinking executives helped change the way the game reaches out to fans. The following can be found in the April issue of Vine Line.
A spin of the knob and a static-filled turn through the radio dial in 1920 didn’t offer much in the way of compelling entertainment. One might catch a farm report, the sounds of a pianist playing at Chicago’s Drake Hotel or some healthy-lunged soul reading the newspaper from cover to cover. Radio was largely staid, uneventful and untapped.
But in 1921, considered the year commercial radio was born, listeners could tune into something much more exciting for the first time—professional baseball.
The first crude broadcast trickled out of a Pittsburgh-based station to little fanfare, but just three years later, the power of baseball hit the airwaves in Chicago, where an intrepid ballclub owner and his savvy marketing counterparts used it to spur a revolution in sports. With owner William Wrigley Jr.’s foresight, the Cubs created a model of publicity, fandom and team ubiquity that reached people well beyond city limits. While many owners still feared airing games would be bad for the sport (and their bottom line), the Cubs became a pioneering force that helped revolutionize how the game has been consumed by the public ever since.
“It was definitely the Cubs who acknowledged this was a medium, a way, for not taking away from attendance, but for making better fans,” said Cubs historian Ed Hartig. “[With radio], the Cubs went from the middle of the road to leading the National League in attendance year after year.”
In 2015, for the first time in nearly six decades, Cubs baseball will be broadcast exclusively on CBS affiliate WBBM-AM 780, after a much-talked-about changing of the guard from longtime partner WGN. Even with television’s high-definition visuals and the Internet vying for fans’ attention, radio remains a local media force, especially among serious fans hungry for information about their beloved club. While comparatively quaint, listening to a game on the radio can still be sublime.
“It’s a local jewel, an iconic brand,” said Rod Zimmerman, senior vice president at CBS Radio Chicago. “We believe in what they’re doing on the North Side.”
Implausibly, there once was baseball without broadcasts. No game calls, no player interviews, no commercials, no lucrative rights deals. At the turn of the 20th century, people who could afford to attend games were the only sure revenue stream upon which a team owner could rely, and fans were courted in now unfathomably low-tech ways.
“You became a baseball fan by playing it or by watching your local team contest against the adjoining community,” said John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian and the author of the Our Game blog. “And there were the sporting papers.”
Written accounts of major and minor league games courted baseball’s relatively small fan base, but actually attending a tilt in person was prohibitively expensive. A 50-cent ticket in the late 1800s was not far off, inflation-wise, from what seats fetch today. Plus, stadiums didn’t yet have lights. Mid-afternoon game times catered to bankers and brokers, and, of course, city dwellers who could easily access the ballpark, Thorn said.
In Chicago, the game crowd was often inebriated, always rowdy, and generally inhospitable to women and children. In short, it took some effort to be a fan.
But Harold Arlin, engineer for Pittsburgh’s KDKA, the first commercial radio station in the country, changed all that at an otherwise uneventful game between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on Aug. 5, 1921. As the teams battled it out on the field, Arlin rested his jury-rigged equipment and a homemade microphone on a wooden plank on the arms of his seat and, over the drone of the crowd and occasional equipment failures, broadcast the first radio game in Major League Baseball history.
While there is no recording of this initial broadcast, Hartig’s research found it was far from smooth. Arlin didn’t know much about baseball, and the frequent dead air and lifeless call made for some uninspiring listening. But the essential concept worked. The following fall KDKA became the first station to broadcast a World Series game and, later, a college football game.
Radio in those days was fledgling, and stations such as the newly established WGN in Chicago did not discriminate as to what they were willing to put on the air.
“They were sort of desperate for content,” Hartig said.
Airing the occasional big-ticket sporting event worked well enough that in 1924, WGN tapped A.W. Kaney to broadcast the opening game of the Cubs-White Sox City Series from the roof of what is now known as Wrigley Field.
“We go back 90 years with the Chicago Cubs on WGN,” said Jack Rosenberg, WGN sports editor from 1945-99. “To the very beginning of radio.”
Wrigley, team owner and head of a chewing gum empire, was a big—if not the biggest—player in creating the baseball-on-the-radio phenomenon. He and Cubs stockholder Albert Lasker, known as the “father of modern marketing,” recognized there was something to be gained from broadcasting games.
A handful of local stations, such as the Chicago Daily News-backed WMAQ and the Chicago Tribune’s WGN, began covering the Cubs with Wrigley’s encouragement. Typically WGN would air weekend and holiday games, while WMAQ carried midweek affairs. The head of WMAQ, Judith Waller, pressed Wrigley for exclusive rights to the games in 1925—a prescient move in those experimental times—but the Cubs owner, according to Hartig, figured more outlets would serve his club better, so he invited all local stations to cover the team.
“Back in the 1930s, research showed that at one point, there were as many as five stations airing Cubs baseball. Eventually, this created new fans,” Rosenberg said. “It was phenomenal. It changed the game.”
So did charismatic broadcasters such as WGN’s Quin Ryan, who opened the 1925 season with a pregame show before the Cubs hosted the Pirates. Ryan knew baseball and delivered the call with enthusiasm and insight. But owners outside of Chicago still saw this new on-air alternative as a potential scourge to the bottom line.
“Radio was slow to take hold in local markets because baseball owners thought it would cannibalize attendance,” Thorn said. “But my thoughts are radio never hurt anybody, anytime, anyhow.”
The conflict between radio backers and detractors divided largely on geographic lines. The rural expanse of the West allowed teams such as Chicago and St. Louis to draw from not only their big-city markets, but from far-distant regions as well.
“As you get from the early 1920s to the late 1920s, there’s essentially a split among owners,” said James R. Walker, author of Crack of the Bat: A History of Baseball on the Radio. “Those hinterland fans were given a taste of the Cubs on the radio. In the East, they were pretty much hemmed in.”
The Yankees’ fan base butted against that of the New York Giants, which tickled the edge of Philadelphia Athletics country, which essentially sat atop Pirates territory. The owners feared radio broadcasts would poach fans from across those already-tensile borders. Philadelphia, however, tended to embrace radio, Hartig said. Another exception was Boston, whose broadcasts could pull fans from western Massachusetts and northern New England, effectively leading to the establishment of what we now know as Red Sox Nation.
But owners still feared easily accessible baseball broadcasts and competition with nearby markets would depress attendance. World Series seats were coveted enough that broadcasting those games was of little concern. But a midsummer snoozer? That could be a problem. In the era of minimal rights fees, teams were making next to nothing on radio broadcasts. It simply wasn’t worth the gamble.
“They weren’t dimwitted. They weren’t Luddites,” Walker said. “They were trying to make a reasoned decision regarding the situation they were in.”
In 1926, American League President Ban Johnson even went so far as to forbid AL teams from broadcasting games, according to Hartig. New York clubs refused to air any games, home or away, until 1939, and the Cardinals were blacked out in 1934 (until attendance nosedived and management reconsidered). The teams that did embrace radio often broadcast only home games, seeing those as a good advertisement for a day at the ballpark.
Wrigley, on the other hand, believed radio was something more and that the Cubs could reach a new breed of fans who were unable to attend games—those at work, mothers at home with kids, etc. Radio would entice these listeners to want to experience the games for themselves and actually be a boon to attendance. Thanks to Wrigley’s well-informed hunch, Cubs business was booming. Attendance-wise, that is. The team itself struggled.
Chicago finished the 1925 season in last place with a 68-86 record. Yet over the next two years, attendance increased 86 percent from more than 620,000 in 1925 to nearly 1.2 million in 1927. Even during the Great Depression, as clubs saw their attendance drop off by up to 75 percent, the Cubs only suffered a 20 percent loss, Hartig said.
While these spikes in popularity were partly traceable to radio, the growth also coincided with team President Bill Veeck Sr.’s leadership and the sweeping improvements he made to the team’s ballpark, roster and marketing efforts. It was a good time to be affiliated with the Cubs, especially as the dismal seasons gave way to pennants in 1929, 1932, 1935 and 1938.
With multiple outlets covering the team, stations thrived on the backs of their broadcasters. WGN’s illustrious history alone includes Quin Ryan and Bob Elson, Jack Quinlan and Lou Boudreau, Harry Caray (briefly), Pat Hughes and Ron Santo, and the list of local legends goes on.
“The announcers, in effect, became part of the family,” Rosenberg said. “[Fans] knew they were going to be there.”
By 1949, Hartig said, 29 stations in 10 states were broadcasting Cubs games, and those broadcasts reached up to 2.7 million homes.
In 1948, the newly minted WGN-TV station broadcast its first Cubs game with future Hall of Famer Jack Brickhouse at the mic. While this didn’t displace radio, televised games changed the profile of the audience. Radio became the preferred option of purists and romantics, or those at work during games, driving in their cars or sitting outside in the yard. Television brought baseball to life, introducing fans to the sights in addition to the sounds of beautiful Wrigley Field. That had a seismic impact on how the action was conveyed and on the ways the league could make money.
But while TV and the Internet are huge drivers for Major League Baseball, anyone spinning the dial to WBBM this season will tell you that radio still matters.
“You use your imagination,” Walker said. “It becomes a much richer experience than watching a television program.”
Baseball on the radio is about nostalgia, simplicity and romance. And in any new relationship—the Cubs and WBBM’s included—it all starts with a little romance.
“It’s the idea of catching a ballgame while swatting away mosquitos and drinking a beer,” Thorn said. “And isn’t that great?”
—By Kerry Trotter
The Chicago Cubs today announced net proceeds from all MLB-authenticated, game-used and autographed Cubs memorabilia sold through Cubs Authentics will be donated to Cubs Charities. These funds will help support Cubs Charities’ mission to harness the passion of Cubs fans to improve the lives of children and families across Chicago.
“Part of the Cubs’ mission is to support our community and be good neighbors. Cubs Charities is very excited to partner with Cubs Authentics to help improve the lives of children and families across Chicago and beyond,” said Connie Falcone, vice president of development for Cubs Charities. “We hope our fans are just as excited to build their collection of authenticated Cubs memorabilia while supporting great causes through Cubs Charities.”
Cubs Authentics, which launched at the beginning of the 2012 season, is the premier outlet for MLB-authenticated Cubs memorabilia, including game-used jerseys and baseballs, autographed items and one-of-a-kind Wrigley Field Collection items.
Fans and collectors interested in supporting Cubs Charities through the purchase of Cubs Authentics memorabilia can find autographed baseballs, bats and jerseys from new and returning players at www.cubs.com/authentics. You can also pre-purchase game-used bases from Opening Night featuring a commemorative base jewel honoring Ernie Banks; bases from the team’s April home series vs. the Cardinals, Padres and Pirates with specialty matchup base jewels; plus a Jackie Robinson Day base jewel from April 15 vs. the Reds.
Shortly after the Cubs opening series vs. the Cardinals, fans will be able to bid online on a variety of rare merchandise collected by Cubs Authentics, including game-used baseballs, bases, bats, jerseys, nameplates and lineup cards. Cubs Authentics will host an online auction with items collected during Spring Training as well, featuring Spring Training locker room nameplates and game-used hats—including green St. Patrick’s Day hats.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts at the 2014 Bricks and Ivy Ball. (Photo by Stephen Green)
This season, Cubs Charities will roll out a “Let’s Give” initiative in conjunction with the organization’s 2015 marketing campaign, “Let’s Go.” This yearlong charitable campaign will include Cubs Charities events, player fundraisers and various programs benefiting the Chicago community. These charitable efforts will be highlighted in the team’s community newsletter and on Cubs’ social media platforms using the hashtag #LetsGive.
The campaign also will include Cubs players and associates engaging in community service projects throughout the season. These include programs aiming to increase access to sports opportunities and target improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk. Cubs Charities sponsors three ongoing signature programs to further this mission. The Cubs on the Move Fitness Program promotes a fitness plan and healthy eating campaign while encouraging kids to “Play Every Day.” The Cubs Charities Diamond Project expands opportunities for children to play baseball by creating or preserving green space and baseball facilities. Finally, the Cubs Scholars program offers quality scholarship and financial contributions for Chicago-area high school students, coupled with a program that promotes academic achievement and encourages post-secondary educational advancement.
On April 17, Cubs manager Joe Maddon will introduce his “Respect Community” charity T-shirt initiative. After every Friday home game this season, Maddon will represent a different Chicago nonprofit by wearing the organization’s T-shirt during his postgame press conferences. Each T-shirt worn this season will represent a Chicago nonprofit supported by Cubs Charities.
The list of “Let’s Give” Cubs Charities and player foundation events follows, with future events and appearances possible throughout the season.
2015 Cubs Charities “Let’s Give” Events
Bricks and Ivy Ball, April 8
The annual Bricks and Ivy Ball is Cubs Charities’ primary fundraising event. This year’s Bricks and Ivy Ball will feature a fun ’80s theme at historic Union Station. Chicago Cubs players, coaches, alumni, owners and management will be in attendance for an evening of musical entertainment, cocktails and dinner. Fans will have the opportunity to bid on unique live and silent auction items. Net proceeds will benefit Cubs Charities. For more information, visit cubs.com/bricksandivy.
10th Annual Race to Wrigley Charity Run, April 25
The Chicago Cubs will host the 10th annual Race to Wrigley Charity Run presented by ATI Physical Therapy Saturday, April 25, outside Wrigley Field. In recognition of Race to Wrigley’s 10th anniversary, the Cubs will introduce an additional race, the “Let’s Run Two” 10K. The course routes for the 5K and 10K will allow race participants to run through the streets of Lakeview before returning to the Friendly Confines. For more information, visit racetowrigley.com.
Annual Cubs Care Grant Luncheon, April 29
The Chicago Cubs will team up with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation for the annual Cubs Care Grant Luncheon in the Audi Club at Wrigley Field. Cubs Charities and Cubs Care will grant money to nonprofit organizations serving those in need in the Chicago area. Last year, the Cubs and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation distributed more than $1.1 million in grants.
Cubs Charities Pink Out, May 11
Cubs Charities, together with partner Advocate Health Care, will “Pink Out” the Budweiser Bleachers Monday, May 11. Each fan attending the game in the Budweiser Bleachers that day will receive a Cubs Charities “Pink Out” T-shirt to celebrate moms and women everywhere who are survivors and to promote breast cancer prevention awareness. For more information, visit cubscharities.org.
Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation’s Cook-Off for Cancer, May 14
The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation will celebrate its third annual Cook-Off for Cancer, which will feature upscale versions of ballpark food prepared by notable Chicago chefs and served by Cubs players at Revel Downtown. Guests will vote for their favorite chefs and dishes by tipping their Cubs server. Tips and event net proceeds will benefit pediatric cancer research as well as provide support to children and their families battling the disease. For more information, visit cubs.com/cook.
Jake Arrieta Presents Catch in the Confines, June 13
Families, friends and fans of all ages will have the opportunity to spend 50 minutes playing catch in the outfield, visiting the batting cage and chatting in the dugout during this year’s Catch in the Confines at Wrigley Field. Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta will host a meet and greet with all participants as well as take photos and sign autographs. Tickets for the event benefit the Cubs Scholars program, which gives deserving students the chance to receive a college education. For more information, visit cubscharities.org.
Kerry and Friends Battle of the Bats Home Run Derby, June 18
The Wood Family Foundation will join Cubs Charities to host the first-ever home run derby at Wrigley Field. Kerry Wood and other Cubs alumni will coach players to swing for the fences while competing for the ultimate title of Home Run Derby champion. Individuals will have to fundraise a minimum of $3,500, which will benefit underserved youth in Chicago through Cubs Charities and the Wood Family Foundation. For future information, visit cubscharities.org.
Foundation To Be Named Later’s Hot Stove Cool Music Chicago, July 9
The fourth annual Hot Stove Cool Music Chicago benefit concert will rock Chicago again at Metro Chicago. Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons, Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper and the Chicago Hot Stove All-Stars will take the stage for an evening of music and giving back to the Chicago community. Proceeds will benefit the Foundation To Be Named Later, started by Epstein and his twin brother Paul. The foundation raises funds and awareness for nonprofit agencies, working on the front lines, serving disadvantaged youth in the Greater Boston and Chicago areas. For more information, please visit foundationtobenamedlater.org.
Jon Lester’s NVRQT 3 Up, 3 Down, Aug. 13
Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester will host his first fundraiser in Chicago this August. The 3 Up, 3 Down event will be a unique and fun take on the famous game show “Hollywood Squares.” Jon and his wife, Farrah, along with celebrities, coaches and teammates, will take part as contestants during the event. Fans can watch the excitement and partake in live and silent auctions. Proceeds from the event will benefit Lester’s NVRQT campaign, run by the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF), which helps raise awareness and money for pediatric cancer research. For future information, visit nvrqt.org.
Joe Maddon’s Respect The Main Event, Sept. 2
Cubs manager Joe Maddon will host a boxing match fundraiser featuring amateur boxers from around Chicago. The event will raise money to keep Chicago youth college-bound and engaged through sports. For future information, visit cubscharities.org.
The Jason Motte Cornhole Challenge, Sept. 19
Cubs pitcher Jason Motte and his wife, Caitlin, will help strike out cancer again at the 2015 Jason Motte Cornhole Challenge at Wrigley Field. Teams of two will go head-to-head with other fans and Cubs players in the ultimate cornhole challenge on the warning track. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Jason Motte Foundation, which provides comfort and care where there is a need for those affected, either directly or indirectly, by cancers of all kinds. For future information, visit jasonmottefoundation.org.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Cubs announced an affiliate station guide to complement the 2015 television and radio schedule featuring broadcasts from Comcast SportsNet Chicago, WGN-TV, WLS-TV/ABC 7 and WBBM Newsradio 780-AM.
WGN-TV’s first of 45 broadcasts will take place Tuesday, April 7, at 7:05 p.m. vs. the Cardinals, the club’s second game of the season following the national opener on ESPN2 Sunday, April 5. WLS-TV/ABC 7, a new television home for the Cubs in 2015, will televise the first of its 24 games Wednesday, April 8, at 1:20 p.m. vs. the Cardinals. Comcast SportsNet Chicago has its first of as many as 87 games Saturday, April 11, at 7:10 p.m. at the Rockies (this game is scheduled for CSN+).
WBBM Newsradio 780-AM, the club’s radio rightsholder, will carry all regular and postseason games. During these broadcasts, non-stop news coverage will be available on-air at 105.9 FM, online at CBSChicago.com or via the Radio.com app available for mobile devices.
“Our goal is to provide Cubs games to as many fans as possible throughout our territories,” said Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney. “We appreciate the effort of Comcast SportsNet and our over-the-air broadcasters to bring Cubs games to homes in markets outside of Chicago.”
Fans located in viewing and listening areas outside of the WBBM Newsradio 780-AM, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, WGN-TV and WLS-TV/ABC 7 markets can tune in to hear or watch Cubs games on the affiliate stations listed on the broadcast information page at Cubs.com. Cubs fans living in markets whose service provider does not currently carry Comcast SportsNet are encouraged to contact their local providers to express an interest in viewing Cubs games. For Cubs games outside of the team’s home television territory, fans can purchase a subscription to MLB.TV.
The Chicago Cubs and Nuveen Investments announced a Legacy Partnership Thursday that extends the long-term relationship between the two organizations. Nuveen, a leading global provider of investment services to institutions and individual investors, has been a partner of the Cubs since 2005.
“Our Legacy Partners have shown a long-term commitment and belief in the Chicago Cubs, and we’re proud to see Nuveen continue their support that traces beyond this newly expanded relationship,” said Cubs Executive Chairman Tom Ricketts. “We’re pleased to have Nuveen on board as a vital partner as we embark on the greatest journey in sports.”
As part of the expanded Legacy Partnership, Nuveen continues to hold naming rights to the Nuveen Investments Suite Level, and the company will be featured with signage behind the visitors’ on-deck area, exposure on the new left-field video board and other prominent in-park signage. The partnership also provides Nuveen with opportunities to host clients at Cubs games and other special events at Wrigley Field.
“Nuveen is excited to continue its long-standing support of one of Chicago’s most recognized institutions,” said John Amboian, chairman and CEO of Nuveen Investments. “We look forward to sharing an exciting future with the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field and importantly, a loyal fan base unlike any other in sports.”
Nuveen becomes the eighth Legacy Partner of the Chicago Cubs, joining American Airlines, Anheuser-Busch, ATI Physical Therapy, Sloan Valve Company, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Under Armour and Wintrust.
This spring, we talked to Cubs players and personnel about everything from their goals for the season to the best prank they’ve ever pulled. With the official Cactus League season wrapping up Wednesday, we round out our spring video series by looking at what the Cubs are getting in new leader Joe Maddon. The 61-year-old skipper has a unique way of relating to players and keeping the clubhouse loose, from having a DJ play on the practice field to wearing old-school coaching shorts during workouts.
And make sure you check out all the other videos from our Spring Training series:
Cubscast Mesa: Spring sit-down with manager Joe Maddon
Cubscast Mesa: The Lighter Side, If I weren’t a ballplayer …
Cubscast Mesa: Checking in with the 2015 Cubs coaching staff
Cubscast Mesa: The Lighter Side, If I could have one talent or superpower
Cubscast Mesa: The Cubs are setting a positive tone in camp
Cubscast Mesa: The Lighter Side, What the Cubs are watching on TV
Cubscast Mesa: The next wave of Cubs talent
Cubscast Mesa: The Lighter Side, The best thing I did this offseason
Cubscast Mesa: Goals for the 2015 season
Cubscast Mesa: The Lighter Side, The best clubhouse prank I’ve ever seen
The Chicago Cubs have assigned three players to minor league camp, reducing their spring roster from 35 to 32 players.
Three players have been optioned to Triple-A Iowa: right-handed pitcher Brian Schlitter, left-handed pitcher Zac Rosscup and outfielder Junior Lake.
Chicago’s spring roster of 32 players consists of 16 pitchers, four catchers (one nonroster invitee), six infielders (one nonroster invitee) and six outfielders.
Cubs vs. Brewers @ Sloan Park
First Pitch: 3:05 CST
Cubs Starter: Jason Hammel, RHP
Rangers Starter: Kyle Lohse, RHP
Broadcast: CSN, Listen live at MLB.com
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Chris Coghlan, LF
3. Jorge Soler, RF
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Starlin Castro, SS
6. Miguel Montero, C
7. Arismendy Alcantara, 3B
8. Jason Hammel, RHP
9. Tommy La Stella, 2B