Results tagged ‘ Wrigley Field ’

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

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that duty was to the Cubs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oftentimes that strategy worked; sometimes it didn’t.

* * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Kerry Trotter

Cubs release updated renderings of the restored Wrigley Field

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

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

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

Cubs Charities announces Centennial Seats public art project on the Mag Mile

Ballpark-Seats

To commemorate Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday and the many historical moments that have taken place at the park over the last century, Cubs Charities is honoring the Friendly Confines with a momentous philanthropic effort. Beginning May 30, Chicago’s Michigan Avenue lined with 50 custom-made pairs of ballpark seats.

The 100 seats each depict a special moment in time at Wrigley Field. Cubs Charities partnered with 47 Chicago-based nonprofits, celebrities and artists to paint the Centennial Seats, and they will be hosting an online auction where participants can place bids to purchase the seats. All proceeds from the nonprofit-designed chairs will be split between Cubs Charities and the respective partnering organization.

“This has been such a special year as we celebrate Wrigley Field and what the park has meant to Chicago over the past century,” said Laura Ricketts, Board Chair of Cubs Charities. “Cubs fans are truly the greatest in baseball, so we can’t wait to honor them by giving back to the community with this special Centennial Seats program.”

From Vince Vaughn and the Chicago Blackhawks, to the National Museum of Mexican Art and South Chicago Art Center, each organization or person has painted a scene that pays tribute to a specific moment in Wrigley Field history. Some of the memories include: Ernie Banks’ major league debut, the scoreboard installation, Babe Ruth’s “called shot” and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

The Centennial Seats will be on display along North Michigan Avenue throughout the summer. Participants can place bids for these one-of-a-kind chairs from May 30 through Aug. 10. The auction will be held online at cubs.com/chairs.

To help raise awareness and promote the auction, Cubs Charities is calling for Chicagoans and Cubs fans to get out their phones and tweet, post and Instagram photos of themselves with the Centennial Seats. Using the hashtags #WrigleyField100 and #CentennialSeats, passers-by will be able join the philanthropic effort and spread the word that all proceeds benefit a great local nonprofit. Additionally, a map has been created that pinpoints exactly where each nonprofit, celebrity or artist’s respective seat is located, making it easy to navigate the Centennial display. The Magnificent Mile Association partnered with the Cubs to make this public art project possible.

Sponsored by Magellan Corporation, the Centennial Seats will be installed the evening of May 29 for their morning debut Friday, May 30.

“We like to get involved with charitable projects that give back to our community—and this is possibly the most colorful and exciting one yet,” said Michael Minkus of Magellan Corporation. “We can’t wait to see the Centennial Seats set up on Michigan Avenue to kick off this charitable effort.”

The full list of participating nonprofits in the Centennial Seats program, as well as other information about Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday celebration, will be available beginning this Thursday at wrigleyfield100.com.

From the Pages of Vine Line: Stretching Out with George Will

George-Will

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author George Will is probably best known for his conservative political commentary. But the Champaign, Illinois, native is also a huge baseball fan who has written extensively on the game. His newest book, A Nice Little Place on the North Side, is a deeply personal look at the Chicago Cubs, the team he has rooted for since he was a boy, and their iconic home, Wrigley Field.

Vine Line: You’ve now done three books on baseball. What keeps you coming back to the game?

George Will: I really only write about politics to support my baseball habit. I was just thinking I’ve published 14 books now, three of them on baseball, and I’m sure those three will sell more than the others combined. Baseball is fun. It’s endlessly fascinating. It has such a long history, unlike every other American sport. It goes back well into the 19th century and beyond.

VL: You grew up downstate, so you had a choice between the Cardinals and Cubs. How did you become a Cubs fan?

GW: I’m not sure I remember how. The funny thing is I remember the Cardinals’ radio broadcaster annoyed me—some guy named Harry Caray, who left St. Louis, went to Oakland, went to the South Side of Chicago, and, of course, wound up being an iconic figure in Cubs history. What annoyed me when he was with the Cardinals was how much he supported the Cardinals. I didn’t mind him supporting the Cubs.

VL: From your book, I take it you’re a reluctant modernist. You like Wrigley Field the way it is, but you see the need for change.

GW: This ballpark is older than the Supreme Court Building, the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, Mt. Rushmore, Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge—it’s old. And like a lot of old things and people, it needs maintenance. So, first of all, you have to spend on maintenance. Second, every major league team’s ballpark is a revenue producer, and it helps them put a better product on the field. And third, the Cubs need certain things like weight rooms and video rooms and batting cages they can use during games. The modern athlete demands more and deserves more.

VL: What compelled you to devote a book to Wrigley?

GW: I just wanted to know all the interesting things and, frankly, the fun things that have happened. Not many Cubs fans know that Jack Ruby, the guy who shot Lee Harvey Oswald after Oswald shot Kennedy, was a vendor in Wrigley Field. Not many people know that Ray Kroc, before he founded McDonald’s, was selling plastic cups to the vendors here to serve soft drinks in. Not many people really know the story, sad and glorious at the same time, of Hack Wilson, who has one of the records that has resisted breaking more than almost any other—191 RBI in one season. So it’s an enormous amount of history just concentrated in this one little spot on the North Side.

1930s Homestand Promotions and Guests: 5/16/14-5/21/14

Cubs Viewmaster
On May 18, the first 5,000 kids 13 and under will receive a Cubs Viewmaster.

The Cubs will host the following promotions and guests in honor of the 1930s decade at Wrigley Field. As always, several first pitch and seventh-inning stretch conductors will be tied to the history of Wrigley Field.

1930s Homestand Recap: May 16-21
Friday, May 16, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot” Bobblehead (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitches: Babe Ruth’s daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens, musical group Haim
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Julia Ruth Stevens and her son, Tom Stevens
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com
  • Postgame Event: Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation’s Cook-Off for Cancer

Saturday, May 17, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 1:20 p.m.

  • Promotion: Cubs Umbrella presented by Morton Salt (first 10,000 fans)
  • First pitches: Morton Salt Girl, members of the U.S. Military
  • Seventh-inning stretch: Professional wrestler CM Punk
  • Broadcast: Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Sunday, May 18, Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 1:20 p.m.

  • Throwback uniforms: Retro 1937 Cubs and Brewers uniforms
  • Promotion: Cubs Viewmaster® (first 5,000 kids 13-and-under)
  • Special Event: Youth Baseball and Softball Appreciation Day
  • First pitch and Seventh-inning stretch: Northwestern University men’s basketball coach Chris Collins
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Tuesday, May 20, Chicago Cubs vs. New York Yankees, 7:05 p.m.

  • First pitch: Three-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: WGN-TV, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

Wednesday, May 21, Chicago Cubs vs. New York Yankees, 1:20 p.m.

  • First pitch: Jim Miller, Holabird & Root (architectural firm that designed Wrigley Field’s bleachers and hand-operated scoreboard)
  • Seventh-inning stretch: TBD
  • Broadcast: MLB Network, Comcast SportsNet, WGN 720-AM Radio, Cubs.com

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

The Cubs marquee is going green to honor the 1930s

Babe Ruth Called Shot Bobblehead

The first 10,000 fans in attendance on May 16 will take home a Babe Ruth “Called Shot” Bobblehead.

While America was dealing with the Great Depression for much of the 1930s, Wrigley Field was bringing excitement and optimism to Chicago residents. That’s because the venerable ballpark housed a baseball team that won the National League pennant three times over the course of the decade.

This homestand, the Cubs will honor the success of those 1930s teams by giving Wrigley Field’s exterior a temporary makeover, sporting throwback uniforms and honoring one of the greatest ballplayers to ever play at the Friendly Confines.

Wrigley Field will mirror the sights and sounds of the 1930s as the Cubs host a decade-inspired homestand vs. the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Yankees. One familiar Chicago landmark will stand out in particular, as the famed Wrigley Field marquee will return to its green origins with gold trim from the mid-1930s. After the homestand, it will return to its modern red background with white trim.

On Wednesday morning, May 14, the Cubs will begin painting the marquee to match the color scheme following its installation in 1934. Benjamin Moore will provide limited-edition Cubs/Benjamin Moore T-shirts for up to 1,000 fans who wish to view the painting event Wednesday morning, and guests also are invited to contribute to painting a large-scale baseball bat-themed mural on-site.

Tickets for both the Brewers and Yankees series remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827). Here’s what’s in store for the homestand.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, May 18, the Cubs will wear a throwback uniform from 1937, the year during which Wrigley Field’s iconic scoreboard was installed and the ivy was planted on the newly constructed bleacher wall. The 1937 jersey features a zip-up front, and the uniform marks the first year the team switched from a navy blue to a royal blue color on its uniforms.

The visiting Milwaukee Brewers will wear a 1937-inspired retro uniform as well.

Promotional Giveaways:
The 1930s Bobblehead Friday showcases one of the most debated moments in baseball and Wrigley Field history—Babe Ruth’s “called shot” off Charlie Root in the 1932 World Series. The first 10,000 fans in the gate will receive the bobblehead on Friday, May 16.

The following day, 10,000 fans will receive a Cubs Umbrella presented by Morton Salt. The company is celebrating the 100th birthday of its signature Morton Salt Girl.

On Throwback Sunday, May 18, the first 5,000 kids 13-and-under will receive a Cubs Viewmaster, and the first 1,000 kids can run the bases postgame (weather permitting).

Special Event:
On Sunday, May 18, Youth Baseball and Softball Appreciation Day features specially priced Terrace Reserved Outfield tickets with the opportunity for uniformed players ages 13-and-under to run the bases postgame (weather permitting). For group sales of 15 guests or more, $3 per each ticket sold will be donated back to the participating league. Each child that attends will receive an exclusive Cubs youth sports band.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1930s homestand features a Kraft Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich with thinly-sliced seasoned beef cooked with onions and mixed with Kraft American and White American cheeses, served on a toasted torpedo roll. The other homestand special is a favorite from mom’s kitchen. The hearty Meatloaf with Gravy dish features meatloaf glazed with honey ketchup, served with mashed potatoes, peas and carrots.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving a Cheese Steak Dog to represent the 1930s, featuring a Vienna Beef hot dog, shaved ribeye steak, grilled onions, peppers and provolone cheese.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy a 1930s Called Shot cocktail—a Manhattan made with fans’ choice of Bulleit Bourbon, Bulleit Rye, Crown Royal or Bushmills Irish Whiskey. The Called Shot is served in limited-edition souvenir glasses from May 16-21 on the main concourse at Section 109 and at the bleacher patio in left field.

Historic Moments:
Some of Wrigley Field’s most noteworthy baseball moments occurred in the 1930s, and the ballpark’s most beloved landmarks came into existence during the decade as well.

On Oct. 1, 1932, in Game 3 of the World Series, Babe Ruth hit his highly-debated and much-celebrated “called shot” off Charlie Root. Moments before the home run, Ruth made a series of gestures—but was he calling his shot or responding to the bench-jockeying from the Cubs dugout?

On Sept. 28, 1938, moments after umpires declared the game would end at the completion of the ninth inning due to darkness, Gabby Hartnett hit his famous “Homer in the Gloamin'” to give the Cubs a two-out, walk-off win and vault them into first place. They would clinch the National League pennant three days later.

In terms of ballpark additions, the iconic Wrigley Field Marquee was added at the corner of Clark and Addison in 1934. The Marquee was originally green with gold trim and welcomed fans to Wrigley Field, Home of “The Cubs.”

A few years later in 1937, the Wrigley Field bleachers and scoreboard were constructed when the outfield area was renovated to provide improved and expanded seating. The Friendly Confines’ famous ivy was planted with 350 Japanese Bittersweet plants and 200 Boston Ivy plants taking root at the base of the new brick outfield walls.

To learn more about these historic moments and others, such as Hack Wilson’s record-setting RBI total, visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

 

Cubs continue decade-themed homestands by honoring 1920s

1929Flag

The Cubs will continue their celebration of 100 years of Wrigley Field by honoring the 1920s during the May 2-6 homestand against the Cardinals and White Sox. The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty food and beverage offerings, and entertainment will mirror the sights and sounds of the 1920s at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs and Cardinals will face off on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball May 4 at 7:05 p.m. CST. ESPN Baseball Tonight’s Sunday Night Countdown will broadcast by the Cubs Store at the corner of Clark and Addison for the hour preceding the game.

Throwback Uniforms:
On Sunday, May 4, the Cubs will wear a throwback 1929 uniform to honor their National League championship team. That year was the first time a World Series was played at Wrigley Field. The visiting St. Louis Cardinals will wear a 1929-inspired retro uniform as well.

Promotional Giveaways:
On Friday, May 2, the Cubs’ historic bobblehead series will feature Red Grange, the University of Illinois running back who ran for three touchdowns as a sophomore in a 29-0 win over Northwestern University on Oct. 27, 1923. The following day, the first 10,000 adults 21-and-over to enter the ballpark will receive a Cubs Fedora Hat presented by Budweiser. On Sunday May 4, the first 5,000 kids 13-and-under will receive a Cubs Yo-Yo.

Special Event:
The 1920s homestand concludes on May 6 vs. the White Sox, when Cubs Charities will team up with Advocate Health Care to “Pink Out” the Budweiser Bleachers. On the last Cubs home game before Mother’s Day, each fan attending the game in the Budweiser Bleachers will receive a Cubs Charities “Save 2nd Base” T-shirt to promote breast cancer awareness and celebrate moms and women everywhere who are cancer survivors. T-shirts will be distributed at the gates by players’ and coaches’ wives.

Fans throughout the ballpark are encouraged to wear pink that day. The Cubs Store, located across from Wrigley Field at the corner of Clark and Addison streets, will display a “Pink Out” section with pink Cubs merchandise and a 10 percent discount on engraved pink bats for fans interested in participating.

All fans in attendance on May 6 are encouraged to participate in the Cubs Charities 50/50 Raffle, as proceeds will benefit mammograms for under- and uninsured women through Advocate Charitable Foundation. For tickets and information, visit cubs.com/pink.

Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants will continue its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1920s homestand specials feature a Kraft Italian Grinder Sandwich with sliced capiocola, salami, mortadella, ham and Kraft Provolone Cheese served on a garlic butter-toasted hoagie roll, as well as a Crispy Chicken Po Boy with crispy chicken tenders on a toasted hoagie roll with crisp shredded lettuce, tomato and Cajun aioli.

The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving decade-themed specialty hot dogs this season, with the classic Chicago Dog representing the 1920s. The Chicago Dog is available all season long and features a Vienna Beef hot dog, tomato wedges, pickle spears, sport peppers, diced onions, mustard, neon relish and celery salt, served on a poppyseed bun.

Adults 21-and-over can enjoy a 1920s Upper Deck Gin Rickey, a refreshing cocktail made with Tanqueray Gin, lime juice and basil-infused club soda, served in limited-edition souvenir glasses from May 2-6 on the main concourse at Section 109 and the bleacher patio in left field.

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

Historic Moments:
Wrigley Field hosted several milestone moments in the 1920s that will be recognized as some of Wrigley Field’s 100 Great Times presented by Budweiser. These include Oct. 10, 1920, when the Chicago Tigers played the Racine Cardinals for the first professional football game at then-Cubs Park. In 1921, the Chicago Staleys (now Bears) made Cubs Park their new home. Cubs Park would be renamed Wrigley Field in 1926 and would host its first World Series game in 1929. To learn more about the historic moments that took place at Wrigley Field, visit www.wrigleyfield100.com.

Now Playing: The Cubs and Vine Line celebrate 100 years of Wrigley Field

It’s not every day people get to attend a 100th birthday party. On Wednesday, Vine Line was on hand with the rest of the Cubs faithful to celebrate Wrigley Field’s centennial and to be a part of the Party of the Century. The first 10,000 fans received cupcakes as they entered the stadium, and the first 30,000 took home a replica Chi-Feds jersey. The Cubs wore 1914 Chi-Feds throwback uniforms, while the Diamondbacks dressed as the Kansas City Packers (the Federal League club the home team faced 100 years prior).

The pregame ceremony included former Cubs players Ernie Banks, Glenn Beckert, Andre Dawson, Bobby Dernier, Ryan Dempster,  Fergie Jenkins, Gary Matthews, Milt Pappas and Billy Williams; Chicago Bears Hall of Famers Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers; members of the Weeghman family; and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. During the fifth inning, fans sang “Happy Birthday” to the ballpark, and Dutchie Caray and a group of Cubs Hall of Famers led the seventh-inning stretch. If you missed the event, here’s our tribute to 100 years at the Friendly Confines.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,103 other followers