Results tagged ‘ Wrigley Field ’

Home Series 3 Preview: Cubs vs. Reds

Billy-Hamilton

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty)

The Reds used a balanced attack to win 90 games and snag the second Wild Card spot in 2013. Even though it was their third playoff appearance in four seasons, manager Dusty Baker was let go, as his team failed to advance in any of their three postseason trips. The organization stayed within the family to find Baker’s replacement, promoting highly respected pitching coach Bryan Price to the top spot. Price could find himself with an even stronger rotation, despite losing Bronson Arroyo to the Diamondbacks, but he must hope rookie speedster Billy Hamilton can fill a giant-sized hole at the top of the lineup created by the departure of on-base machine Shin-Soo Choo. Still, led by perennial MVP candidate Joey Votto, there’s a ton of talent on this roster.

2014 HITTING
(11th in NL, 3.8 RS/G)
The Reds likely won’t be able to replace Choo and his .423 OBP in the leadoff spot, but rookie phenom Hamilton hopes to wreak havoc on the basepaths (though he has struggled with just a .220 on-base percentage thus far). His speed is so disruptive that if he finds his way to first, it’s likely he’ll be in scoring position within a pitch or two. Votto gets dinged for not driving in runs, but there’s no debating he’s one of the most productive offensive forces in the game, with a .446 OBP and the ability to consistently hit 25-plus home runs. Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier are both good complementary run producers, but Brandon Phillips is on the downside of his career and struggled with a .310 OBP and .706 OPS last season.

2014 PITCHING
(5th in NL, 3.4 RA/G)
Despite losing Arroyo, the Reds’ rotation actually has a chance to improve from last season. After making only 11 starts in 2013, ace Johnny Cueto appears to be healthy, and though Homer Bailey is having a rough start to 2014, the right-hander finally started living up to the high expectations that come with being a top prospect last aseaon. He posted career bests in ERA (3.49), IP (209), WHIP (1.12), K% (23.4 percent) and K/BB (3.69). Add Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani and Mat Latos when he returns from a DL stint, and Cincinnati’s rotation is one of the most impressive on paper entering 2014. The bullpen is also excellent, even with closer Aroldis Chapman still recovering from a comebacker to the face in Spring Training. Sam LeCure, Alfredo Simon and J.J. Hoover all posted sub-3.00 ERAs in more than 60 innings of work last season. And the Reds still have veteran arms in Jonathan Broxton and Manny Parra.

1910s Homestand Promotions and Guests: April 18-24

Dutchie

Dutchie Caray and friends will do the seventh-inning stretch honors at the Wrigley Field 100th birthday game on April 23. (Photo by Stephen Green)

In addition to celebrating Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday on April 23, the Cubs will host the following promotions and guests in honor of the 1910s decade at Wrigley Field. This homestand begins the season-long, decade-themed celebration of 100 years at the ballpark, including historic Bobblehead Fridays and Throwback Sundays featuring retro kids toys for the first 5,000 kids 13-and-under in the ballpark.

Friday, April 18, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Limited-edition Joe Tinker Bobblehead (first 10,000 fans)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Three generations of Tinker family members
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, MLB Network, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Saturday, April 19, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 1:20 p.m.

  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, April 20, Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: 1910s Throwback Cubs Diecast Train Engine (first 5,000 kids 13-and-under)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Todd Protzman Davis (great grandson of Zachary Taylor Davis, architect of Wrigley Field)
  • Broadcast: WCIU-TV,  WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Monday, April 21, Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona D-backs, 7:05 p.m.

  • Seventh-inning stretch: Bob Brenly, former Cubs and current Diamondbacks broadcaster
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet+, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, April 22, Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona D-backs, 7:05 p.m.

  • Seventh-inning stretch: Kelly Amonte Hiller, Northwestern women’s lacrosse coach (Wrigley Field hosts Northwestern vs. USC for the ballpark’s first ever collegiate lacrosse match Sat., April 26)
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, WRTO 1200-AM Spanish Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, April 23, Chicago Federals (Chicago Cubs) vs. Kansas City Packers (Arizona D-backs), 1:20 p.m.
*100th Birthday Game*

  • Promotions: Replica Chicago Federals jersey (first 30,000 fans), Jewel-Osco birthday cupcake (first 10,000 fans)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Dutchie Caray, Cubs alumni and other special guests
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, beginning at 12:30 p.m., airing a special pregame show and the Wrigley Field ceremony, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Thursday, April 24, Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona D-backs, 1:20 p.m.

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

Now Playing: The Cubs kick off the Party of the Century at Wrigley Field

Despite typical April temperatures in Chicago and a 7-2 loss to the visiting Phillies, the Cubs still managed the kick off the Party of the Century in style. Friday’s home opener began a yearlong celebration of Wrigley Field, which turns 100 years old on April 23. The gametime temperature hovered in the high 30s—and a strong wind made it feel colder than that—but that didn’t stop 38,283 fans from packing the Friendly Confines. Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams were on hand to throw out the first pitch, and Ernie, Fergie and Billy sang the stretch (Sandberg was otherwise occupied with his job as Phillies manager).

Vine Line talked to Cubs players and personnel about Opening Day at Wrigley Field and celebrating the venerable stadium the Cubs have called home for 98 years. There’s no better place to be than Wrigley Field—in April or September.

Wrigley Field will celebrate 100 Delicious Years at the concession stands

CUB-CONCESSIONS-0004

Wrigley Field will kick off its 100th birthday year on Opening Day, Friday, April 4, and continue the Party of the Century throughout the 2014 season. In honor of the ballpark that originated the concession stand, the culinary team at Wrigley Field will introduce decade-themed menus, featuring classic fare inspired by tastes from days gone by.

“Chicago is home to the iconic Wrigley Field and truly amazing food, and this year we are thrilled to celebrate 100 years with the great flavors of the gameday experience,” said Wrigley Field Executive Chef David Burns. “We can’t wait for Cubs fans to dig into the delicious and historic treats we have in store.”

Here’s a rundown of the new Centennial-inspired offerings at Wrigley Field this season.

Decade Diner
Fans can take a culinary trip through time by visiting The Sheffield Grill, which will be transformed into the Decade Diner for the 2014 season, located inside Gate D near Section 142. Kraft Cheese is celebrating 100 years of cheese-making this year, so the Friendly Confines will feature one Kraft Cheese recipe for each decade in the Decade Diner, alongside traditional fan favorite gameday fare.

Decade Dogs
Wrigley Field’s culinary team also put a historical twist on everyone’s gameday favorite, the hot dog. Cubs fans can enjoy a variety of Decade Dogs throughout the season next to Gate F near Section 123, including:

  • 1910s Rueben Dog: Vienna Beef hot dog, sliced corn beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese. Available all season.
  • 1920s Chicago Dog: Vienna Beef hot dog, tomato wedges, pickle spears, sport peppers, diced onions, mustard, neon relish and celery salt, served on a poppy seed bun. Available all season.
  • 1930s Cheese Steak Dog: Vienna Beef hot dog, shaved ribeye steak, grilled onions, peppers and provolone cheese. Available during the 1930s homestand.
  • 1940s Corn Dog Nibblers: Deep-fried mini Vienna Beef corn dogs. Available during the 1940s homestand.
  • 1950s TV Dinner Dog: Vienna Beef hot dog, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn. Available during the 1950s homestand.
  • 1960s Buffalo Wing Dog: Vienna Beef hot dog, diced chicken, buffalo sauce, bleu cheese crumbles and chopped celery. Available all season.
  • 1970s Pulled Pork Dog: Vienna Beef hot dog, pulled pork, barbecue sauce and coleslaw. Available all season.
  • 1980s Nacho Dog: Vienna Beef hot dog, tortilla strips, nacho cheese, salsa and pickled jalapenos. Available during the 1980s homestand.
  • 1990s Bagel Dog: Vienna Beef hot dog wrapped in a warm bagel with deli mustard. Available during the 1990s homestand.
  • 2000s Dog: The most popular hot dog from the previous decades. Available during the 2000s homestand.

Suites
Cubs suite-holders can enjoy delicious dishes from yesteryear with the Suite Package of the Century, which features fan favorites from the past 100 years. Dishes include:

  • 1910s Reuben Fritters: Served with horseradish-mustard dipping sauce.
  • 1920s Caesar Salad: crisp romaine, housemade Caesar dressing, Parmesan garlic croutons.
  • 1930s Chicago-style Hot Dogs: Vienna beef hot dogs, tomato, onion, neon relish, pickle, sport peppers, celery salt.
  • 1940s Macaroni and Cheese: Cavatappi pasta made in a creamy sauce made from three cheeses.
  • 1950s Twisted Potato Chips: Served with classic, creamy Lipton Onion Dip.
  • 1960s Wedge Salad: Served with bleu cheese dressing, bacon crumbles and green onions.
  • 1970s Shrimp Cocktail Shooters: Jumbo shrimp, zesty cocktail sauce served in a shot glass.
  • 1980s Cajun Wings: Served with cool ranch dipping sauce.
  • 1990s Mini Veggie Burgers: Our housemade veggie burger served on whole wheat bun.
  • 2000s Niman Ranch Pork Sandwich: Specialty smoked pork with caramelized onions, signature steak sauce on toasted focaccia bread.

Ten Timeless Toddies
Cubs fans can quench their thirst with signature period cocktails, served in limited-edition souvenir glasses on the main concourse at Section 109 and on the bleacher patio in left field. As each drink is unveiled throughout the season, the Cubs will share the recipes online at WrigleyField100.com so fans can recreate the Wrigley experience at home. Decade drinks include:

  • 1910s Weeghman Park Old Fashioned: Bulleit Rye and Finest Call Old Fashioned Mix, served with an orange slice and cherry.
  • 1920s Upper Deck Gin Rickey: A Gilded Age cocktail made with Tanqueray Gin, lime juice and club soda, garnished with basil.
  • 1930s Called Shot: A Manhattan made with fans’ choice of whiskey—Bulleit Bourbon, Bulleit Rye, Crown Royal or Bushmills Irish Whiskey.
  • 1940s Day Game: A variation on a Hurricane, made with Captain Morgan, Meyers Dark Rum and Finest Call Hurricane Mix.
  • 1950s Mr. Cub Cocktail #14: In honor of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, this Cubbie Blue cocktail features Smirnoff Vodka, Blue Curacao and lemonade, served with a slice of lemon and a cherry.
  • 1960s Alabama Ironman: This modern twist on the Whiskey Sour pays homage to Billy Williams, made with peach puree, lemon and lime juice.
  • 1970s Cooperstown Iced Tea: A variation on a Long Island Iced Tea, which surged to popularity during the ’70s, this cocktail features Captain Morgan’s Ready-to-Drink Long Island Iced Tea Mix.
  • 1980s Electric Ryno Margarita: A blue margarita featuring Don Julio Tequila, Blue Curacao, lime juice and agave nectar, served with a light-up straw.
  • 1990s Home Run Hop: A Dominican-inspired cocktail made with island flavors including Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Meyers Silver Rum, pineapple juice and coconut water.
  • 2000s Playoff Punch: A Cosmopolitan-inspired punch made with Smirnoff Orange Vodka, Monin Tiki Blend, cranberry and lime juice.

Ballpark Brews and More
In addition to the new decade cocktails, Cubs fans can enjoy an expanded offering of beers this season, including:

  • Goose Island: Fans can now enjoy drafts and bottles of Goose Island favorites such as 312 Urban Wheat, 312 Urban Pale Ale, Green Line, Matilda and Sofie.
  • Budweiser and Bud Light
  • Mang-O-Rita, Raz-Ber-Rita, Lime-A-Rita and Straw-Ber-Rita
  • Redbridge gluten-free beer
  • Johnny Appleseed Cider
  • Old Style

Throwback Sundays
Wrigley Field isn’t just bringing history to fans’ taste buds. The Cubs have partnered with Majestic Athletic to recreate throwback uniforms from each decade, which the team will wear on Throwback Sunday games. Fans can sport the jerseys as well, along with other vintage threads, which will be available at the Cubs Team Store on the Wrigley Field concourse and at authorized Cubs retailers. Jerseys offered include:

  • May 4 – 1929 Jersey
  • May 18 – 1937 Jersey
  • June 8 – 1942 Jersey
  • June 22 – 1953 Jersey
  • July 13 – 1969 Jersey
  • August 10 – 1988 Jersey
  • August 24 – 1994 Jersey

For more details on all of the centennial food and fun planned for the 2014 season, visit WrigleyField100.com and LevyRestaurants.com.

1000 Words: Two weeks from baseball at Wrigley Field

WrigleyExterior

(Photo by Stephen Green)

We are officially two weeks out from the Cubs’ April 4 home opener against the Ryne Sandberg-managed Philadelphia Phillies. The opener will kick off the season-long celebration of Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary. All year, the Cubs will be honoring the venerable stadium with throwback uniforms, retro bobbleheads, decade-themed giveaways and concessions, and more. We’ll see you in two weeks.

Cubs launch WrigleyField100.com

Cubs1935

(National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Looking to get in on the fun when you visit Wrigley Field during its 100th birthday season? On Wednesday, the Cubs officially launched WrigleyField100.com to honor 100 years of history at the iconic ballpark and share the team’s season-long plans to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime milestone.

The website features an extensive look at all of the unique, historic moments that have taken place at Wrigley Field over the last 100 years, including Cubs baseball, Chicago Bears and collegiate football games, summer concerts and other special events. Visitors can browse through Wrigley Field history from each decade, infographics about baseball and life in 1914, and “100 Great Times” that have taken place at the stadium over the last century. The Cubs will pay tribute to these 100 Great Times presented by Budweiser during each home game, with several athletes, performers and dignitaries associated with the moments joining the Wrigley Field 100 celebration.

Fans visiting WrigleyField100.com are also invited to participate in polls to determine their “All-Wrigley Team,” as well as other topics like their favorite broadcasters, concession items, traditions and Wrigley Field icons.

Some of these “All-Wrigley” candidates have already shared their favorite Wrigley Field memories on the website. More than two dozen current and former players, executives and celebrities revealed their favorite Wrigley Field stories in candid personal videos.

In addition to these historical elements, WrigleyField100.com showcases the team’s plans to commemorate “The Party of the Century” during 10 decade-themed homestands, complete with historic player uniforms, gameday entertainment, specialty food offerings, one-of-a-kind bobbleheads, retro toy giveaways, commemorative memorabilia, Cubs Charities’ 100 Gifts of Service and more.

“WrigleyField100.com is a great resource for fans looking to learn more about Wrigley Field’s history and our season-long plans to celebrate its centennial,” said Cubs Senior Director of Marketing Alison Miller. “We encourage everyone to spend some time on the site and vote for their favorite players and attractions from the last century at Wrigley Field.”

Cubs announce new free remote parking lot

As part of an ongoing commitment to ease vehicle traffic and reduce the number of cars near Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs are launching a free remote parking lot operation two miles west of the ballpark during night and weekend games. The new remote parking lot is located at 3900 N. Rockwell St., just east of the Chicago River and immediately south of Irving Park Road. The lot has a capacity of 1,000 vehicles and will be secured by Cubs personnel. The parking service includes free shuttle transportation to and from the remote lot and Wrigley Field.

“We believe free parking is a great incentive for our guests and encourages fans to take advantage of this new remote parking lot,” said Manager, Government & Neighborhood Relations Kam Buckner. “We recognize many fans drive to Wrigley Field, and this easy-to-use remote parking operation will help alleviate traffic congestion in the neighborhood before and after games.”

Shuttles will begin running two and a half hours prior to the start of games and will run continuously for approximately an hour postgame. At the conclusion of night and weekend games, the shuttle bus will pick up fans at the designated drop-off location on Addison Street.

This shuttle service will also be available for postseason games and night games of a day-night doubleheader. The Cubs’ first day-night doubleheader of the season will take place Sat., June 28.

This newly introduced free remote parking lot replaces the team’s previous remote parking operation at DeVry University.

Former Cubs president Bill Veeck Sr. changed the face of baseball

Veeck-Wm-Sr.-4095.76_HS_NBL

(National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

Once upon a time, early in the 20th century, the Confines were not so friendly. Cubs games drew nattily dressed men to Weeghman Park’s sleepy Lakeview neighborhood by trolley or elevated train to cheer on the likes of Max Flack and Jigger Statz. Fans took to their seats, likely among the festering trash abandoned by the previous day’s crowd. They might lose a few bucks when a favorite pitcher “threw” a fixed game. Some may have had a box seat reserved only to find it occupied by a friend of one of the many unscrupulous ushers. They’d slam some beers, eat hot dogs, and not surprise a soul if they walked out with a black eye after an all-too-typical tussle.

You know, just your average day at the ballpark.

“It was kind of a rough crowd,” said Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field historian Ed Hartig, of the ballpark experience in the early 1900s. “It was not a place for families.”

This hardscrabble climate was a common feature of baseball parks at the time. The Cubs drew about 600,000 fans per season, and the crowds were primarily male and often intimidating.

“The team wasn’t complaining,” Hartig said. “That was fine.”

But it wasn’t enough, at least not for one man.

In 1918, a baseball writer was plucked off his beat and deposited into the Cubs front office, where his years of outsider observations and unbiased criticism of management were put to the test.

As the ’20s roared loud and proud at Wrigley Field, the rough-and-tumble tumult of gamedays gave way to memorable, safe and pleasant afternoons at the park. Home games were broadcast on the radio. Attendance records were set. The park grew. Women and children arrived in droves. And most of this can be traced directly to the efforts of then-Cubs President Bill Veeck Sr.

“He’s right up there at the top,” Hartig said of Veeck’s place in baseball history. “You go to a game [today], and 40 percent of the crowd is women, there are kids at games, the ballpark is clean.”

Veeck was an integral cog in the team’s front office, from his hiring in 1918 to his death in 1933 at the age of 56. During his time at the helm, he led the Cubs out of the Dark Ages and revolutionized the marketing of baseball. He had such a profound and lasting impact on the game that campaigns are underway to get him elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame at the next available opportunity, in December 2015.

“He was a pioneering executive who changed baseball from a cottage industry into an entertainment colossus,” said Dr. David Fletcher, president and founder of the Chicago Baseball Museum and one of those pushing for Veeck’s Cooperstown enshrinement. “It’s sad—most Cubs fans have never heard of him.”

* * * *
William Louis Veeck Sr.—not to be confused with his legendary, franchise-owning, promotional stuntman of a son (think exploding scoreboards and Disco Demolition)—was a by-the-book but out-of-the-box leader who rewarded loyalty and regularly took the long view. A baseball fan from a young age, Veeck was born in Indiana in 1877 and had his roots in journalism, not management. His first job was selling newspapers, and as a teenager he worked as a printer’s apprentice.

Veeck never attended college and eventually landed a job in the cutthroat world of Chicago newspapers. He bounced around among publications until gaining purchase at the Chicago Evening American, first reporting on the city desk and later on sports, where his lifelong love of baseball paid off. He wrote under the pen name “Bill Bailey,” and there was a quality to his work that went beyond simply posting gameday recaps and churning out stats.

He demonstrated a nuanced understanding of the game that caught the baseball world’s attention—so much so that when the Cubs began considering a new management direction, Veeck’s name was on the short list.

“[He] was more critic than critical,” Hartig said.

In 1918, then-Cubs President Charles Weeghman was underwater financially and had to choose between his baseball career and his restaurant business. The team had just won the National League pennant during a season abridged by World War I, but both his restaurant and his namesake Weeghman Park, where the Cubs played, were suffering from dismal attendance due to the aftereffects of the war and a worldwide influenza epidemic that caused the U.S. government to urge people to stay out of crowded places. To make matters worse, he had a German-sounding last name during the acrimonious postwar period. Ultimately, he stepped down from the team, and Cubs manager Fred Mitchell took over.

Veeck—somewhat improbably by today’s standards—was hired by the Cubs as vice president and treasurer. The following summer, the National League determined Mitchell could not serve as both manager and president. As he preferred to stay on the field, Veeck was bumped up to the big job.

“To hire a sportswriter with little or no business background,” Hartig said, “today you’d be like, ‘What are they thinking?’”

* * * *
But the Cubs had good reason for optimism. Almost immediately, Veeck began to combat the scourge of player gambling.

“He basically saved baseball with his role in the Black Sox scandal,” Fletcher said. “He blew the whistle on his own team.”

With his swift punitive measures, the Cubs president set a league-wide standard for transparency. Yet Veeck’s cleanup efforts were only beginning.

In 1922, he insisted the team wear freshly laundered uniforms for each game. According to Veeck’s logic, a tidy team upped the park’s allure and would put more fans in the seats, as would the newly hired Andy Frain uniformed ushers.
Before Frain, the park’s ushers weren’t known for their courteous service, often giving otherwise reserved seats to friends or to those proffering bribes, resolving conflicts with fisticuffs, or generally ignoring the safety and comfort of their charges. Not so with the new fleet.

And then there was the mess. Ballparks typically only underwent a cleaning after every series, so fans were often sitting amid piles of days-old trash. Veeck upped the size of the grounds crew and instituted park-wide cleanup after every home game.

He also expanded concessions beyond the standard beer and hot dogs to include items such as lemonade, soda, candy and popcorn—all in the name of courting a new crop of fans.

But nothing did more to bring a different crowd to the ballpark than his championing of Ladies Day. With the help of team Vice President John Seys and club Secretary Margaret Donahue (who later served as VP), Veeck fought to welcome women to the newly christened Wrigley Field.

The league wasn’t wild about the idea of a regular day on which women didn’t have to surrender the buck or so to buy a ticket, as it would chip away at revenues. The promotion was actually first introduced in the 1880s, but the NL abolished it in 1909. When Weeghman took over the Cubs in 1916, he made his case for Ladies Day, but the NL again said no. Finally, in 1918 and ’19, the NL allowed the Cubs to attempt the concept on a trial basis.

It was the promotion of the event by Veeck, Seys and Donahue in the 1920s that convinced NL owners that offering Ladies Days would eventually lead to women attending other games. With that, the NL removed the restriction, and the Cubs turned it into a regular Friday event. By the mid-1920s, the team was drawing close to 10,000 women for a single Ladies Day game. In 1929, one August game drew 29,000 women, and the numbers only swelled from there, according to Hartig.

The Ladies Day promotion continued in some form until 1990.

* * * *
Veeck’s sweeping changes never would have been possible without the support of chewing gum magnate and team owner William Wrigley Jr.

“They understood marketing before the whole science of marketing was studied,” Hartig said of the Wrigley family, which boldly sent a pack of their eponymous gum to every telephone customer in the country—twice.

One of the harder sells Wrigley and Veeck teamed up on was the idea of broadcasting home games on the radio. Popular opinion decried such a practice as a deterrent to actual attendance. If a fan could hear games on the radio, why would he or she feel the need to hop on a train to see a game in person? But on Oct. 1, 1924, the Cubs made their successful radio debut, broadcasting a city series 10-7 win over the White Sox on WGN. In the 1925 season, the Cubs became the first major league franchise to broadcast all of their home games.

“The announcers are going, ‘It’s a beautiful day at the ballpark,’” Hartig said. “People want to go.”

And people did. While the Cubs ended the year well below .500, their attendance totaled 622,610, nearly 100,000 more than the National League average, according to the Baseball Research Journal.

Thanks to this surge in fandom, a second tier of grandstands was added to Wrigley Field in 1927. In 1929, manager Joe McCarthy, a Veeck hire, nabbed his first pennant. The team also won the NL in ’32, ’35 and ’38, due in large part to Veeck’s management. During this time, the team began drawing more than a million fans per season, becoming the first NL club to do so.

Veeck died of leukemia in 1933, shortly after championing interleague play as a way to combat the dismal Depression-era attendance. He also supported the creation of the All-Star Game. Veeck even helped negotiate a deal to bring a football team called the Decatur Staley’s to Chicago. They are better known these days as the Chicago Bears, a franchise that went on to play for 50 years at Wrigley Field.

While a Veeck bid for the Hall of Fame was unsuccessful in 2012, the effort is far from over. Fletcher is gearing up to take another shot in December 2015, more than 100 years after the president’s heyday.

“I think he’s the most unsung hero of Major League Baseball,” Fletcher said. “His footprints are significant.”
And they’re all over Wrigley Field.

Cubs single-game tickets go on sale today

Party Like It's 1914 Ad

The Cubs today announced details for purchasing single-game tickets for the 2014 season. This year, Cubs fans will be able to watch their favorite team while taking part in a season-long celebration of the last 100 years of baseball and other events at Wrigley Field. Guests will enjoy unique promotional items, retro food and beverage options, throwback uniforms and entertainment specific to the time period being celebrated during 10 decade-specific homestands.

Single game tickets go on sale Friday, March 7, at 10 a.m. CST at http://www.cubs.com and by phone at 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

As referenced last year, the team will no longer host a two-hour on-sale event at Wrigley Field prior to online and phone sales. The Wrigley Field Ticket Windows will open Saturday, March 8, at 9 a.m.

In celebration of Wrigley Field’s milestone, the team has introduced a section of MasterCard Century Seats with tickets priced at $19.14 before tax for every game of the season. This 350-seat section is located in the Upper Deck Box level in left field. These tickets must be purchased with a MasterCard and are available at http://www.cubs.com/CenturySeats or 800-THE-CUBS with no service or delivery fees.

“We’re excited to host the ‘Party of the Century’ at Wrigley Field this year while honoring our historic ballpark,” said Cubs Vice President of Sales and Partnerships Colin Faulkner. “Our fans will notice a unique look and feel when they attend each homestand as we recognize a century of events, milestones, people and teams who play a significant role in Wrigley Field’s iconic history.”

Following Opening Week, Cubs fans will be treated to a variety of elements to celebrate 10 decades, during 10 unique homestands at Wrigley Field. These festivities include historic bobblehead giveaways on the first Friday of each homestand to honor key individuals or events from the corresponding decade; “Throwback Sunday” games on the first Sunday of each homestand, in which the Cubs and many visiting teams will wear throwback uniforms; retro toy promotional giveaways to children 13-and-under on those same Sundays; a dedicated “Decades Diner” with rotating food and beverage options; plus commemorative ballpark décor, guests and game entertainment.

While the entire season is dedicated to celebrating 100 years of Wrigley Field, one game stands out as Wrigley Field’s actual 100th birthday. On April 23, the Cubs will host the Arizona Diamondbacks exactly a century after the Chicago Federals opened then-Weeghman Park against the Kansas City Packers on April 23, 1914. Both teams will wear commemorative uniforms, and the first 30,000 fans in the ballpark will receive a replica 1914 Chi-Feds jersey. Like any good birthday party, Wrigley Field’s celebration will feature special guests, gifts, cake, entertainment and even a serenade to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”

Details for each single game purchasing option follow:

SINGLE GAME GENERAL ON-SALE:

Via the Internet: Visitors to http://www.cubs.com can purchase tickets beginning at 10 a.m. A virtual waiting room will be used for all Internet orders. The virtual waiting room will begin accepting customers Friday, March 7, at 9:30 a.m. At 10 a.m., customers will be selected from the virtual waiting room to begin purchasing tickets. All Internet customers will need a valid cubs.com account. Customers are recommended to register for an account prior to March 7.

By Telephone: Tickets can be purchased by telephone beginning at 10 a.m. by dialing 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

At the Wrigley Field Ticket Office: Tickets will be available for purchase at the Wrigley Field Ticket Windows Saturday, March 8, beginning at 9 a.m. Due to offseason construction in the main concourse and fans’ increased use of online ticket purchasing, the team will no longer host a two-hour on-sale event at Wrigley Field prior to online and phone sales.

MASTERCARD CENTURY SEATS:

In celebration of Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday, the Cubs and MasterCard have partnered to offer a consistently low-priced seating option for every game during the 2014 regular season. Cubs fans can use their MasterCard to buy tickets priced at $19.14 before tax with no service or delivery fees. This 350-seat section is located in the Upper Deck Box level in left field.

MasterCard Century Seats must be purchased with a MasterCard, which serves as the buyer’s day-of-game ticket for admittance along with a photo ID. Guests will receive email confirmation of their purchase, however print-at-home tickets are not available for MasterCard Century Seats. These tickets are non-transferable. MasterCard Century Seats are available at http://www.cubs.com/CenturySeats or 800-THE-CUBS beginning Saturday, March 8, at 10 a.m.

For updated ticket pricing, please visit http://www.cubs.com. For more information, please contact the Chicago Cubs Ticket Office at 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).
 

From the Pages of Vine Line: Charles Weeghman and the construction of Wrigley Field

WrigleyField

(Photo courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame)

The following can be found in the February issue of Vine Line.

It’s a typical chilly April afternoon on the North Side.

A strong breeze blows off the lake, and the people clustered in the bleachers are bundled in winter clothes. But they don’t seem to mind the cold. Some arrived as early as 9 a.m. to see the marching bands and politicians parade in the street.

They wear red and blue caps, ring bells and sing songs. The park looks, someone would later remark, like “a huge floral horseshoe.” Music plays and curious onlookers gather at windows and on the rooftops of adjacent buildings.

A few dozen members of the Daughters of the Grand Army of the Republic parade in with a 30-foot silk American flag. They present the team’s manager with gifts—three dozen neckties, a six-foot-high floral display—and someone fires off a series of explosions to mark the occasion.

Finally, one of the leaders of the GAR, filling in for Chicago’s mayor, steps out onto the mound and throws the first pitch.

It’s April 23, 1914, and baseball has come to West Addison Street on Chicago’s North Side. But the Cubs—and Wrigley Field as we know it—would take a little longer to arrive.

* * * *

Depending on how you look at it, the story of Wrigley Field began either with a property deal struck in the waning hours of 1913 or with an unlucky investment made a few years earlier.

In 1909, three men with ties to American Association baseball found what they thought was the perfect spot for a ballpark. The parcel of land at North Clark and West Addison streets in Chicago was the former site of a Lutheran seminary. It was surrounded by homes and businesses and offered convenient access to public transportation.

The plan was to bring an American Association team to Chicago. But there was a problem: The city was spoken for, according to Organized Baseball. The Cubs and White Sox had already claimed the town—the Cubs were playing in a park on the city’s West Side at the time—and both teams refused to approve a new organization in their territory.
For the next few years, the three men held onto the property, but they didn’t make any progress on a new team.

Enter Charles Weeghman.

The self-made millionaire began his working life as a waiter. He eventually opened a diner, followed by another and another. Once he was running 15 restaurants, he began investing in pool halls and movie houses. By the time the men from the American Association were sitting on their North Side plot of land, baseball was surging in popularity, and Weeghman was getting some big ideas.

In 1913, the increasingly crowded baseball universe got a new competitor, an independent minor league operation called the Federal League. To secure its financial standing, the league went looking for deep pockets and found Weeghman, who had already tried, and failed, to buy the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.

With Weeghman’s clout in the mix, organizers figured they could give the American and National leagues a run for their money and declared the Fed League an official major league. Because the operation was independent, they didn’t have to get Organized Baseball’s permission to set up a new franchise in town.

Prior to the 1914 season, Weeghman acquired the Chicago Federals for $25,000—but he insisted if they were going to be a major league team, they needed a major league-quality stadium to rival those of the other professional teams in town.

He had just the spot in mind—that former North Side seminary that was close to streetcars and the city’s rail system. Plus, it came with a near-perfect geographic orientation. It was as far north from the city’s center as Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox, was south. For the first time, Chicago would have proper North Side and South Side teams.

On Dec. 31, 1913, Weeghman agreed to a 99-year lease on the property. The spot at Clark and Addison was about to get a second chance. That is, unless Organized Baseball had anything to say about it.

* * * *

Technically, the Chicago Federals didn’t need anyone’s permission to play in the Windy City, but the fledgling organization was still going to have to fight its way in.

The AL and NL threatened to blacklist players who joined the Federals. Even though Weeghman was already gathering up a roster of big-name players—including infielder and manager Joe Tinker—the opposing leagues didn’t stop their fight. Instead, they tried to pull the rug out from under him, right in the North Side neighborhood where he was trying to build his new baseball empire.

Weeghman’s lease became official in January 1914, and all the details were published in the Chicago Tribune. He would pay $16,000 annually for the first 10 years of the 99-year lease, eventually upping the rate to $20,000. That averages out to the equivalent of about $452,000 per year in today’s dollars.

By late February, some of the neighbors around Clark and Addison were pushing back. Several of them signed a petition against the ballpark, which they delivered to the city’s building commissioner.

But the little secret just about everyone knew at the time was that the neighbors weren’t particularly opposed to the park.

Cubs historian Ed Hartig said major league officials were holding frequent meetings, trying to figure out how to get rid of Weeghman, his team and his ballpark.

“You think about this nowadays—oh, my gosh, some of the stuff they tried to do,” Hartig said. “Professional men who had made their money in real estate, in communications, in newspapers, and here they are in back rooms trying to finagle these deals.”

One of the schemes cooked up in those backroom meetings was to use the ballpark’s neighbors to fight the team’s plans. But Hartig said just about everybody saw through that tactic.

“Organized Baseball saw Chicago as being the key to the success of the Federal League. As Weeghman went, so did the Federal League—or at least that’s what Organized Baseball thought,” Hartig said. “The belief, or hope, was that if they could make life miserable for Weeghman, Charlie would withdraw his interest in the Chicago Federal League team. And with no Chicago team, the league would fold.”

The plan didn’t work.

The building commissioner told the neighbors he’d take their concerns under advisement, but warned them the Federal League already had enough support in the neighborhood to go ahead with its plans.

Two days later, wrecking crews were tearing down the seminary and a few nearby houses to make way for Weeghman Park.

* * * *

The stadium went up with a speed that seems unfathomable today, when major public projects typically require years of study, design and debate. Weeghman gave his construction team less than two months to complete the job, because he wanted the park ready for the start of the 1914 season.

About 5,000 people turned up for a groundbreaking ceremony on March 4, 1914. The building commissioner stuck a shovel in the dirt, and someone smashed a bottle of champagne. As soon as the ceremony was over, the chief contractor began issuing orders to 100 workmen hired to build the grandstand.

By late March, the structure was nearly complete. Weeghman pushed for speedy work, paying off union workers who went on strike and nearly doubling his 450-man crew.
The city provided some help too. The park’s eight-foot-high brick fence in the outfield didn’t follow city ordinances. An inspector reported the violation, but didn’t insist the wall be taken out. Ultimately, it stayed.

On April 23, visitors streamed in for Weeghman Park’s first game. Tickets were $1 for box seats (about $24 today) or 75 cents for the grandstand. One of the reasons the construction was able to move so fast was that the park was far less polished than today’s big league facilities.

“The ballparks were pretty simple then,” Hartig said. “It was 14,000 seats with no upper decks. The bleachers were pretty basic.”

Weeghman made a point of selling the facility as a cleaner alternative to other ballparks of the day, which were known for being a bit grungy. Hartig said it was common for teams to go through 15-game stretches and hose down the bleachers only a few times—and this in an era when the primarily male crowd generally went to games dressed in suits and ties.

Though the park was a scaled-down version of the modern Wrigley, it had a few special touches. Among them was a stable Weeghman had built for his horse, Queen Bess, under the third-base grandstand. Queen Bess pulled the lawnmower that cut the grass on the field and was allowed to run free around the park when the team was on the road.

About 21,000 people turned out for the first game to watch the Federals top the Kansas City Packers, 9-1.

The team finished the season second in the league, but Weeghman was worried about its continued success. In 1915, after a naming contest, the club was rechristened the Chicago Whales. They had another excellent season, winning the Federal League title, but by year’s end, the league was mired in legal challenges with Organized Baseball.
The Federal League had sued the American and National leagues for antitrust violations, but the battle was a stalemate. The federal judge on the case, future baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, thought the upstart league had a legitimate case, but understood that a ruling in its favor might cause Organized Baseball to collapse.

So he did the only other thing he could think of—he stalled, hoping one or both sides would cave. By the end of the 1915 season, the Feds were in a financially untenable position and reached an agreement to shut down.

In January 1916, less than two years after his namesake park opened, Weeghman and nine other investors, including majority stockholder Albert Lasker and chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., struck a new deal. The Cubs would add most of the Whales personnel to their roster and swap their well-worn West Side home for something bigger, better and newer: Weeghman Park.

* * * *

As the Cubs were moving in, Weeghman was moving out of the baseball business. Facing monetary problems, he began selling off his Cubs stock and was off the team’s board of directors by the start of the 1920s.

Wrigley, who wasn’t much of a baseball fan, began regularly attending games. By the 1917 season, he’d convinced the team’s board to move their Spring Training operations to his property in California. He continued to boost his holdings and owned a majority of the shares by 1919. From then on, his name would forever be linked with the Cubs and their venerable ballpark.

But Hartig said the forgotten bit of Wrigley Field’s early history is part of what makes the park so unique. During tours of the stadium, visitors are often surprised to learn that it hasn’t always been all about the Cubs on West Addison Street.

“To me, that’s the biggie, that it wasn’t built for the Cubs,” he said. “There was an independent league team that existed for three years—and almost took down Major League Baseball.”

—Erin Golden

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,160 other followers