Wrigley Field Year by Year: A Century at the Friendly Confines
As Shea points out, the team's failings seem to be easier to absorb when you're sitting in such a gorgeous, stately venue. Like Shea, Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer George Will is one of a number of noteworthy authors who have penned books on Wrigley to coincide with the th anniversary of its opening, which occurred April 23, Indeed, the play of the Cubs over the years can be characterized as ugly more often than not. After sporadic stints of success, the Cubs have suffered through unparalleled futility.
From through , the team went 4,, Despite this, the love affair between the fan base and the team's venue is unrivaled in sports — and that love affair, according to Will, has played a key role in the team's poor on-field performance. Calling A Nice Little Place on the North Side a "business book, about a business model that failed," Will notes the loyalty of the fans and their enthusiasm for coming to Wrigley for the experience of the venue meant they weren't all that demanding about wins and losses.
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If "attendance might've varied more directly and more dramatically with the success on the field, it would've provided a much more powerful incentive to improve what was going on on the field," Will said. The most dominant squads in the franchise's history played in the first decade of the 20th century, when the Cubs called West Side Grounds home. The teams in through had the best five-season winning percentage in Major League Baseball history.
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Before moving into Wrigley in , the team won a stunning more games than it lost 1, starting in During the final seasons at crumbling West Side Grounds, the Cubs and organized baseball fought to keep the upstart Federal League from basing a franchise on the city's growing, untapped North Side. Ed Hartig, who for 20 years has acted as the Cubs' unofficial team historian, said the National League even had "an ingenious plan" to have an agent acquire a slice of the property that had been selected for the Federal League venue in an attempt to thwart the plan to construct a park at the corner of Clark and Addison.
When the agent failed to buy the land in time, construction began on the park that for two years served as the home of the Chicago Whales. The team won the Federal League championship in , just in time to see the league fold. Whales owner Charlie Weeghman quickly put together a group of investors who bought controlling interest of the Cubs. They moved the team into the palace built for the Whales, thus starting the longest running relationship between an NL team and its ballpark, topped only by the Boston Red Sox's use of Fenway Park since The stadium went by Weeghman Park until , when the team started pushing the name Cubs Park — a name now attached to the team's new spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz.
In time for the season, the team renamed the park in honor of owner William Wrigley and greatly expanded seating.
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The result: the first NL team to top 1million in attendance. Wrigley's son P.
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While the team won the NL pennant in its third season at Wrigley, it is a run of four NL crowns in 10 seasons through that represents the high-water mark for the team during its Wrigley years. The club faced the mighty New York Yankees in the World Series, and what the matchup lacked in drama New York won in a sweep it made up for in folklore. In Game 3, Wrigley's overflow crowd and the Cubs players in the dugout howled with every pitch to Babe Ruth.
After a gesture at the bleachers? At the home dugout? At the pitcher? No word on whom or what he hit on Waveland Avenue. First, Sayers scampered 80 yards on a screen pass from Rudy Bukich. Then he scored on runs of 21 yards, 7 yards, 50 yards, and 1 yard.
In the fourth quarter, he returned a punt 85 yards for his final score. The 61 points were the most the Bears scored in a regular-season game to date.
The Beatles played two shows at the International Amphitheater on August Music producer Frank Fried confirmed that the group's first choice was Wrigley Field, but the team squelched the idea. But not Wrigley Field!
The Cubs hired a ballgirl. Marla Collins, twenty-four years old, sat on the field between the backstop and the first base dugout. She shagged fouls and supplied the umpires with baseballs. Collins wore a Cub uniform that, during suitable weather, included short pants. September 30 -- The surprise visit of President Ronald Reagan produced historical intrigue. Reagan, in town to support Vice President George H.
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Bush's presidential campaign, threw out the first pitch and called an inning-and-a-half of television play-by-play with Harry Caray. Few fans realized what was going on, especially when workers hung tarps on the ramps to screen the president's path from the Cubs dugout to the press box. Browning, who pitched a perfect game in , claimed to get more fan interest about his Sheffield Avenue escapade than about his pitching gem.
Opening Day, April 4. First Lady Hillary Clinton threw out the first pitch. She also sang the seventh-inning stretch with Harry Caray who planted a kiss on her cheek. Olympic speed skater Bonnie Blair was also honored before the game, receiving a gold bat from Ernie Banks. The Red Wings won, The score hardly mattered. For the largest American television hockey audience in 34 years and the 40, who witnessed it live, the atmosphere was unique. Competing outdoors reminded the players of skating on frozen ponds of their youth. The Red Wings' Chris Chelios said he "never wanted it to end.
A Century in the Cathedral
To increase their season-ticket base, the Northwestern University football team hosted Illinois on Nov. The game marked the first football contest at Wrigley Field since the Bears played there in and the first college football game since a DePaul-St. Louis game in The grounds crew laid the field from the third base dugout to right field. But it was tight. So tight that the right field end zone ended only a foot from the outfield wall and workers affixed the goal post to the bleacher wall.
Even though pads protected the players from the brick, a day before the game, Big Ten officials deemed it dangerous and ordered teams to run all their offensive plays in one direction, away from the right field wall. Historians and 41, watching couldn't recall a college football game ever played under these rules. The twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of the iconic movie, which includes a scene where Ferris catches a foul ball at Wrigley Field, attracted a sellout crowd of about 10, Copyright c by Sam Pathy.
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