Wrigley Field by Ron Cogswell

  • Wrigley Field: Little-Known Facts and Legends

    Chicago's Wrigley Field is a more than just a ballpark—it is an important part of the city's history and culture. ESPN columnist Jim Caple calls Wrigley Field the "happiest place and most beautiful location in baseball." Charles Weegham, who built the stadium to house his Federal League baseball team, the Chicago Federals, originally constructed it in 1914. The Federals folded just two years later, and Weegham and nine other men purchased the Chicago Cubs and moved them into what became known as Cubs Park. One of the ten men, chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., eventually became the sole owner of the team, and the park was renamed to Wrigley Field in his honor in 1926.

    To some, Wrigley Field may be just a ballpark, but to Chicagoans, it is a place they hold near and dear to their hearts. With plenty of firsts, lasts, and interesting stories and tales, Wrigley Field has taken on a personality of its own.

    The Curse of the Billy Goat

    During the World Series game between the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern was asked to leave Wrigley Field because of the foul odor given off by the pet goat he had brought with him. He wasn't happy and shouted, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more." Interestingly, this was the last time the Cubs appeared in the World Series and it was also the last year they won a National League pennant. Fans have done everything they can to break the curse, including a 2012 stunt by five Cubs fans and a goat named Wrigley that walked from Arizona to Wrigley Field in the hopes of changing the team's luck.

    The Scoreboard

    Only two Major League ballparks in the country still use a manually operated scoreboard: Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Wrigley Field's scoreboard was built in 1937 by Bill Veeck, also the mastermind behind the ivy on the ballpark's outfield walls. The scoreboard is manned by several members of the grounds crew who post the inning-by-inning score of the current game as well as the scores of all the other National League games. After each game, a white flag with a blue W or blue flag with a white L is hung above the scoreboard to let the El passengers traveling by know whether the Cubs won or lost.

    Traditions

    Many baseball traditions have been born at Wrigley Field. It is the home of the first permanent concession stand, which has sold hot dogs and beer since the park was built in 1914. It may not be the first ball field to allow fans to keep the foul balls they catch, but it is certainly where the tradition of throwing back home run balls hit by the opposing team started. In 1918 before a World Series game, Wrigley Field began the tradition of singing the National Anthem, and it was the first ballpark to have an organist play during the game.

    One of the most beloved traditions started at Wrigley Field in Chicago is the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch. Harry Caray sang the song from 1982 until his death in 1998, and then his son took up the post until 2004. Today, celebrities vie for the chance to do the honors. Fans have also started their own Wrigley Field tradition. Before each home game, fans known as "ball hawks" take up their posts outside of the park on Waveland Avenue in the hope of catching one of the home run balls the players hit out of the park during the pregame practice.

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