|"The Friendly Confines"|
|Former names||Weeghman Park (1914–1920)|
Cubs Park (1920–1926)
|Location||1060 West Addison Street|
Chicago, Illinois 60613
|Broke ground||March 4, 1914|
|Opened||April 23, 1914|
|Construction cost||$250,000 USD|
($5.46 million in 2021 dollars)
|Architect||Zachary Taylor Davis|
|Capacity||41,159 with standing room at least|
|Field dimensions||Left Field - 355 ft (108.2 m)|
Left-Center Field - 368 ft (112.2 m)
Center Field - 400 ft (121.9 m)
Right-Center Field - 368 ft (112.2 m)
Right Field - 353 ft (107.6 m)
Backstop - 60.5 ft (18.4 m)
Outfield Wall Height
(Bleachers) - 11.5 ft (3.5 m)
(In corners) - 15 ft (4.6 m)
|Chicago Whales (FL) (1914–1915)|
Chicago Cubs (MLB) (1916–present)
Chicago Tigers (APFA) (1920)
Chicago Bears (NFL) (1921–1970)
Chicago Sting (NASL) (1977–1982, 1984)
Wrigley Field (pronounced /ˈrɪɡli/) is a baseball stadium in Chicago, Illinois, United States that has served as the home ballpark of the Chicago Cubs since 1916. It was built in 1914 as Weeghman Park for the Chicago Federal League baseball team, the Chicago Whales. It was called Cubs Park between 1920 and 1926 before being renamed for then Cubs team owner and chewing gum magnate, William Wrigley, Jr.. Between 1921 and 1970, it was also the home of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. In addition, it hosted the second annual National Hockey League Winter Classic on January 1, 2009.
Located in the community area of Lakeview, Wrigley Field sits on an irregular block bounded by Clark (west) and Addison (south) Streets and Waveland (north) and Sheffield (east) Avenues. The area surrounding the ballpark contains residential streets, in addition to bars, restaurants and other establishments and is called Wrigleyville. The ballpark's mailing address is 1060 W. Addison Street.
Wrigley Field is nicknamed The Friendly Confines, a phrase popularized by "Mr. Cub", Hall of Famer Ernie Banks. The current capacity is 41,160, making Wrigley Field the 10th-smallest actively used ballpark. It is the oldest National League ballpark and the second oldest active major league ballpark (after Fenway Park on April 20, 1912), and the only remaining Federal League park. Wrigley is known for its ivy covered brick outfield wall, the unusual wind patterns off Lake Michigan, the iconic red marquee over the main entrance, and the hand turned scoreboard.
- 1 History
- 2 Features
- 3 Stadium usage
- 4 Traditions and mainstays
- 5 References in popular culture
- 6 Accessibility and transportation
- 7 Commemorative stamps
- 8 Sources
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The park was built in six weeks in 1914 at a cost of about $250,000 ($5.3 million in 2011 dollars) by the Chicago lunchroom magnate Charles Weeghman, who owned the Federal League Whales. (The club signed a 55-year lease to use the park for approximately $18,000 per year.) It was designed by the architect Zachary Taylor Davis (who four years earlier had designed Comiskey Park for the Chicago White Sox), incorporating the new "fireproof" building codes recently enacted by the city. According to some sources, when it opened for the 1914 Federal League season, Weeghman Park had a seating capacity of 14,000. According to another source, the original seating capacity was 20,000.
In late 1915 the Federal League folded. The resourceful Weeghman formed a syndicate including the chewing gum manufacturer William Wrigley Jr. to buy the Chicago Cubs from Charles P. Taft for about $500,000. Weeghman immediately moved the Cubs from the dilapidated West Side Grounds to his two-year-old park. In 1918 Wrigley acquired the controlling interest in the club. In November 1926, he renamed the park "Wrigley Field."
Although Wrigley Field has been the home of the Cubs since 1916, it has yet to see the Cubs win a World Series, even though it has hosted several (1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945, the last time the Cubs appeared in a World Series), the last World Series win by the Cubs (1908) happened while the Cubs called West Side Park home.
Wrigley Field follows the jewel box design of ballparks that was popular in the early part of the 20th century. The two recessed wall areas, or "wells," located both in left, and right field, give those areas a little more length than if the wall were to follow the contour from center field, it is also in those wells, when cross winds are blowing, that balls have a habit of bouncing in all sorts of interesting directions, there is also a long net running the entire length of the outfield wall, about two foot from the top, the primary use is to keep fans from falling out of the bleacher area and onto the field of play, which is about seven to ten feet below the top of the wall. Called "The basket," by players and fans alike, the rules of the field state that any ball landing within the netting is ruled a home run, making the distance to hit a home run in Wrigley Field actually shorter than the location of the outfield wall.
Ivy-covered outfield walls
The ballpark is famous for its outfield walls which are covered by ivy. In the first weeks of the baseball season, the ivy has not leafed out, and all that is visible are the vines on which it grows. However, as the baseball season progresses further into spring, the ivy grows thick and green, disguising the hard brick surface of the outfield wall.
Many times a ball has been lost in the ivy when hit towards the outfield fences. An outfielder will signal that a ball is lost by raising his hands. When this occurs, the umpires will call time and rule the play a ground-rule double. If instead the outfielder opts to try to find the ball in the ivy, the ball remains live and any baserunners may advance. Although the ivy appears to "pad" the bricks, it is of little practical use as padding. There have been occasions of fielders being injured when slamming into the wall while pursuing a fly ball.
The ivy that covers the outfield wall is a combination of Boston Ivy and Japanese Bittersweet, which can endure the harsh Chicago winters better than its English cousin. The ivy was planted in 1937 by the Cubs General Manager Bill Veeck, as part of Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley's beautification plan for the bleachers, which had been rebuilt during the 1937 season. Veeck reportedly got the idea of ivy on the walls from Donnie Bush Stadium in Indianapolis.
Wrigley is now the only professional ballpark with an ivy covered outfield wall. Several now-demolished ballparks featured ivy in the playing area, including Forbes Field, Wrigley Field's namesake in Los Angeles, and Bush Stadium in Indianapolis. Bush Stadium still stands, however, hasn't hosted baseball in 15 years. After the Indianapolis Indians moved to Victory Field, a race track took its place and the race track owners stripped the ivy off of the walls. Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium, the former home of the College World Series as well as minor league baseball, had an ivy-covered brick wall that was replaced with a padded wall. Some ballparks feature ivy on out-of-play walls, especially as a covering for the batter's eye behind the center field fence.
The distances from home plate to various points in the outfield have remained essentially unchanged since the bleachers were remodeled during the 1937 season. They were originally marked by wooden numbers cut from plywood, painted white, and placed in gaps where the ivy was not allowed to grow. Since the early 1980s, the numbers have been painted directly on the bricks, in yellow. Although the power-alley dimensions are relatively cozy, the foul lines are currently the deepest in the major leagues.
It is 355 feet (108.2 m) to the notch in the wall just beyond the left field foul pole. The point where the bleacher wall begins to curve inward in left-center field, one of the two "wells", is an unmarked 357 feet (108.8 m). The front part of the left-center "well" is the closest point in the outfield, about 350 feet. The marked left-center field distance is 368 feet (112.2 m). It is closer to true center field than its right-center counterpart is. True center field is unmarked and is about 390 feet. The center field marker, which is to the right of true center field and in the middle of the quarter-circle defining the center field area, is 400 feet (121.9 m). That is the deepest point in the outfield. Right-center field is 368 feet (112.2 m). The notch of the right-center "well" is an unmarked 363 feet (110.6 m). The right field foul line is 353 feet (107.6 m). The backstop is listed in media sources as 60.5 feet (18.4 m) behind home plate. Although that distance is standard, the relatively small foul ground area in general gives an advantage to batters.
Old-time ballparks were often surrounded by buildings that afforded a "freebie" look at the game for enterprising souls. In most venues, the clubs took steps to either extend the stands around, or to build spite fences to block the view. Perhaps the most notorious of these was the one at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, which caused a rift between the residents and the team that never healed. The Cubs themselves had built a high fence along the outfield at West Side Park, to hide the field from flats whose back porches were right next to the outer fence of the ballpark.
But at Wrigley it was different. The flat rooftops of the apartment buildings across Waveland and Sheffield, which pre-date the ballpark, were often populated with a reasonable number of fans having cookouts while enjoying the game for free. The Cubs tolerated it quietly until the 1990s, when some owners of those apartments began building little bleacher sections, and charging people to watch the games. That was a whole different ball game, and the Cubs management became very vocal in expressing their displeasure, threatening legal action. In 2003 they went so far as to line the screens that top the outer walls with opaque strips, to block the best exterior sight lines. That was the closest thing to a spite fence that Wrigley had seen. Therefore the bleachers are sometimes called "The Spiteless Fence" as well as "The Ivy Wall".
This led to meetings and to a peaceful settlement among the various parties. The building owners agreed to share a portion of their proceeds with the Cubs, and the Cubs obtained permission from the city to expand the ballpark's own bleachers out over the sidewalks and do some additional construction on the open area of the property to the west, bordered by Clark and Waveland, and to close the remnant of Seminary Avenue that also existed on the property. The rooftop seats are now effectively part of the ballpark's seating area, although they are not included in the seating capacity figure.
Some of the rooftops have become legendary in their own right. The Lakeview Baseball Club, which sits across Sheffield Avenue (right-field) from the stadium displays a sign that reads, "Eamus Catuli!" (roughly Latin for "Let's Go Cubs!"—catuli translating to "whelps", the nearest Latin equivalent), flanked by a counter indicating the Cubs' long legacy of futility. The counter is labeled "AC," for "Anno Catuli," or "In the Year of the Cubs." The first two digits indicate the number of years since the Cubs' last division championship as of the end of the previous season (2008), the next two digits indicate the number of years since the Cubs' last trip to the World Series (1945), and the last three digits indicate the number of years since their last World Series win (1908).
Today, Wrigley rooftops have become a unique alternative venue to watch baseball games. Many rooftop venues feature bleachers, open bar, specialty food items, and a unique game-day atmosphere, although the quality of the view can vary depending on the specific rooftop location.
• 14,000 (1914)
• 15,000 (1915-1922)
• 20,000 (1923-1928)
• 38,396 (1927)
• 40,000 (1928-1937)
• 38,396 (1938)
• 38,000 (1939-1940)
• 38,396 (1941-1948)
• 38,690 (1949-1950)
• 36,755 (1951-1964)
• 36,644 (1965-1971)
• 37,702 (1972)
• 37,741 (1973-1981)
• 37,272 (1982-1985)
• 38,040 (1986)
• 38,143 (1987-1988)
• 39,600 (1989)
• 38,710 (1990-1993)
• 38,765 (1994-1996)
• 38,884 (1997)
• 38,902 (1998-2005)
• 41,118 (2006)
• 41,160 (2007-2009)
• 41,210 (2010)
• 41,159 (2011-present)
Unusual wind patterns
In April and May the wind often comes off Lake Michigan (less than a mile to the east), which means a northeast wind "blowing in" to knock down potential home runs and turn them into outs. In the summer, however, or on any warm and breezy day, the wind often comes from the south and the southwest, which means the wind is "blowing out" and has the potential to turn normally harmless fly balls into home runs. A third variety is the cross-wind, which typically runs from the left field corner to the right field corner and causes all sorts of interesting havoc. Depending on the direction of the wind, Wrigley can either be one of the friendliest parks in the major leagues for pitchers or among the worst. This makes Wrigley one of the most unpredictable parks in the Major Leagues.
Many Cubs fans check their nearest flag before heading to the park on game days for an indication of what the game might be like; this is less of a factor for night games, however, because the wind does not blow as hard after the sun goes down.
With the wind blowing in, pitchers can dominate, and no-hitters have been tossed from time to time, though none recently; the last two occurred near the beginning and the end of the 1972 season, by Burt Hooton and Milt Pappas respectively. In the seventh inning of Ken Holtzman's first no-hitter, on August 19, 1969, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hammered one that looked like it was headed for Waveland, but the wind caught it just enough for left fielder Billy Williams to leap up and snare it in "the basket".
With the wind blowing out, some true tape-measure home runs have been hit by well-muscled batters. Sammy Sosa and Dave "Kong" Kingman broke windows in the apartment buildings across Waveland Ave. several times. Glenallen Hill put one on a rooftop. Batters have occasionally slugged it into, or to the side of, the first row or two of the "upper deck" of the center field bleachers. Sosa hit the roof of the center field camera booth on the fly during the NLCS against the Florida Marlins, some 450 feet away.
But the longest blast was probably hit by Dave Kingman on a very windy day in 1976 while with the Mets. According to local legend, that day, Kingman launched a bomb that landed on the third porch roof on the east (center field) side of Kenmore Avenue, some 550 feet away.
No matter the weather, many fans congregate during batting practice and games on Waveland Avenue, behind left field, and Sheffield Avenue, behind right field, for a chance to catch a home run ball.
Hand turned scoreboard
Along with Fenway Park, Wrigley is one of the last parks to maintain a hand turned scoreboard. Unlike the home of the Red Sox, the scoreboard at Wrigley is mounted above the center field bleachers, rather than at ground level, making it harder to hit during play. No players have hit the current scoreboard, although several have come close. The scoreboard was installed in 1937, when Bill Veeck installed the new bleachers. The scoreboard has remained in place ever since, and has only seen minor modifications. The clock was added in 1941, a fifth row of scores was added to each side in 1961 and later a sixth. A set of light stands facing onto the scoreboard was added in 1988 with the introduction of night games. An electronic message board was also added below the scoreboard.
The scoreboard is still manually operated, with scores coming in through a computer (a ticker tape machine was used in the past); a number turner watches the score changes closely, and updates scores by manually replacing the numbers from within the scoreboard. The scoreboard is made out of sheet steel. The numbers that are placed into the inning windows are steel, painted forest green, and numbered with white numerals. The box for the game playing at Wrigley uses yellow numerals for the current inning. The clock, which sits at the top center of the scoreboard, has never lost time in its 69-year existence. The entrance to the scoreboard is a trap-door on the bottom. On the reverse of the scoreboard, visible from the CTA elevated trains is a blue pennant, with the words "Chicago Cubs", in white outlined in red neon. The scoreboard was extensively rehabilitated for the 2010 season.
In 2010, the Cubs toyed with the idea of adding a Jumbotron to the stadium, but the presence of the hand turned scoreboard (which cannot be moved due to the park's landmark status, which also prohibits even simple facelifts such as adding two more games on the National and one more on the American side to reflect 16 and 14 teams, respectively, in the leagues; the 12-game, 24-team scoreboard reflects MLB from 1969 to 1976, so up to three games (2 NL, 1 AL) each day cannot be posted) has hampered efforts to do so. Most Cubs players support the addition of a Jumbotron, but it is unknown whether the team will proceed with plans to add one.
Main entry marquee
Directly over the main entrance to the stadium stands the most familiar icon of the exterior of the ballpark, a large red, art deco style marquee, painted in white letters to read "Wrigley Field, Home of Chicago Cubs". The marquee was installed circa 1934. The sign was blue until the 1960s, and originally used changeable letters similar to the scoreboard to announce upcoming games. It originally read "Home of "The Cubs" but was changed to "Home of Chicago Cubs" by 1939. This was also changed during football season to reflect the Chicago Bears. In 1982, the two line announcement board was replaced with an electronic message board and a backlit advertising panel was added below (this is now solid red). The marquee utilizes red neon lights at night, showing the familiar "Wrigley Field" in red, as the rest of the sign is in darkness. The marquee is so iconic with the park, that the owners of the park, both past, and present, have used the marquee in some way as the park's trademark of sorts, even the CTA platform that services Wrigley Field (the CTA Addison St. station,) has an image of the marquee painted on a wall announcing the destination, rather than simply marking it with black block letters The marquee was painted purple to accommodate the Northwestern Wildcats who played as the home team against the University of Illinois in football in November 2010.
Wrigley Field was a hold-out against night games, not installing lights until 1988 after baseball officials refused to allow Wrigley to host any post-season games without lights. Before then, all games at Wrigley were played during the day. Night games are still limited in number by agreement with the city council. In 1942, then-owner P.K. Wrigley had planned to install lights, but instead, the lights and stands were scrapped for the war effort. The first night game was scheduled for August 8, 1988, against the Philadelphia Phillies, however, the game was rained out after 3½ innings. The first official night game at Wrigley was held the following day, August 9. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League's first All-Star Game during the 1943 midseason, was played under temporary lights at Wrigley Field, between two teams composed of South Bend Blue Sox and Rockford Peaches players versus Kenosha Comets and Racine Belles players. It was also the first night game ever played in the historic ballpark (July 1, 1943).
Weeghman Park / Cubs Park / Wrigley Field has served as the home baseball park for Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs franchise since 1916.
The Chicago Bears of the National Football League played at Wrigley Field from 1921 to 1970 before relocating to Soldier Field. The team had transferred from Decatur, and retained the name "Staleys" for the 1921 season. They renamed themselves the "Bears" in order to identify with the baseball team, a common practice in the NFL in those days. Wrigley Field once held the record for the most NFL games played in a single stadium with 365 regular season NFL games, but this record was surpassed in September 2003 by Giants Stadium in New Jersey, thanks to its dual-occupancy by the New York Giants and New York Jets.The game played between the Jets and Miami Dolphins on September 14, 2003 was the 366th regular season NFL game at Giants Stadium breaking Wrigley's regular season record. The 50 seasons the Bears spent at Wrigley Field had been an NFL record until 2006 when Lambeau Field duplicated this feat by hosting the Packers for the 50th season, and broke it in 2007.
Initially the Bears worked with the stands that were there. Eventually they acquired a large, portable bleacher section that spanned the right and center field areas and covered most of the existing bleacher seating and part of the right field corner seating. This "East Stand" raised Wrigley's football capacity to about 46,000, or a net gain of perhaps 9,000 seats over normal capacity. After the Bears left, this structure would live on for several years as the "North Stand" at Soldier Field, until it was replaced by permanent seating.
The football field ran north-to-south, i.e. from left field to the foul side of first base. The remodeling of the bleachers made for a very tight fit for the gridiron. In fact, the corner of the south end zone was literally in the visiting baseball team's dugout, which was filled with pads for safety, and required a special ground rule that sliced off that corner of the end zone. One corner of the north end line ran just inches short of the left field wall. There is a legend that Bronko Nagurski, the great Bears fullback, steamrolled through the line, head down, and ran all the way through that end zone, smacking his leather-helmeted head on the bricks. He went back to the bench and told Coach "Papa Bear" George Halas, "That last guy gave me quite a lick!" That kind of incident prompted the Bears to hang some padding in front of the wall.
The Bears are second only to the Green Bay Packers in total NFL championships, and all but one of those (their only Super Bowl championship) came during their tenure at Wrigley. After a half-century, they found themselves compelled to move, because the NFL wanted every one of its stadiums to seat at least 50,000 as a result of the AFL–NFL merger. The Bears had one experimental game at Dyche Stadium (now Ryan Field) on the Northwestern University campus in 1970, but otherwise continued at Wrigley until their transfer to the lakefront ended their five-decades run on the north side. One remnant of the Bears' time at Wrigley was uncovered during the off-season 2007–2008 rebuilding of the playing field: the foundations for the goal posts.
The Northwestern Wildcats and the Illinois Fighting Illini played a college football game at Wrigley Field on November 20, 2010. It was the first football game at Wrigley Field since 1970 and the first collegiate football game at Wrigley Field since 1938 when DePaul University played its regular games at Wrigley. The field used an east-west field configuration (home plate to right field). In order to keep the playing field at regulation size, the safety clearances for each end zone to the walls in the field were considerably less than normal. In particular, the east (right field) end zone came under scrutiny as its end zone was wedged extremely close to the right field wall (as close as one foot in some areas), forcing the goal posts to be hung from the right field wall in order to fit. Despite extra padding provided in these locations, it was decided that all offensive plays for both teams play to the west end zone, where there was more safety clearance. The east end zone could still be used on defensive and special teams touchdowns, as well as defensive safeties; and, in fact, there was one interception run back for an eastbound touchdown.
The Chicago Sting of the North American Soccer League (NASL) used Wrigley, along with Comiskey Park, for their home matches during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Sting hosted the San Diego Sockers on August 25, 1979 at Wrigley when the Bears were using Soldier Field. Unlike the Bears' football gridiron layout, the soccer pitch ran east-to-west, from right field to the foul territory on the third-base side.
On January 1, 2009, the National Hockey League played its 2009 Winter Classic in The Friendly Confines pitting two "Original Six" teams - the host Chicago Blackhawks and the visiting Detroit Red Wings - in an outdoor ice hockey game. The rink ran across the field from first base to third base with second base being covered by roughly the center of the rink. According to espn.com, the attendance for this game was 40,818. The Red Wings won 6–4.
In recent years Wrigley Field has been opened on a limited basis to popular concerts, not without some controversy. Artists and groups to play Wrigley Field have included Jimmy Buffett (2005), The Police (2007), Elton John and Billy Joel (2009), Rascal Flatts (2009), the Dave Matthews Band (2010), and Paul McCartney (2011). Local neighborhood groups have expressed concerns about the impact of concert crowds and noise on the surrounding residential neighborhood, particularly in 2009 when three concerts were added to the schedule, one conflicting with an annual neighborhood festival.
Traditions and mainstays
Wrigley Field shares its name with the Wrigley Company, as the park was named for its then-owner, William Wrigley Jr., the CEO of the Wrigley Company. As early as the 1920s, before the park became officially known as Wrigley Field, the scoreboard was topped by the elf-like "Doublemint Twins", posed as a pitcher and a batter. There were also ads painted on the bare right field wall early in the ballpark's history, prior to the 1923 remodeling which put bleachers there. After that, the Doublemint elves were the only visible in-park advertising. The elves were removed permanently in 1937 when the bleachers and scoreboard were rebuilt. It would be about 45 years before in-park advertising would reappear.
Wrigley Field has been a notable exception to the recent trend of selling corporate naming rights to sporting venues. The Tribune Company, who owned the park from 1981 to 2009, chose not to rename the ballpark, utilizing other ways to bring corporate sponsorship into the ballpark.
In the early 2000s, following the trend of many ballparks, a green-screen chroma key board was installed behind home plate, in the line of sight of the center field TV camera, to allow electronic "rotating" advertisements visible only to the TV audiences. By 2006, the board was set up to allow advertisements to be both physical and electronic (thus they can be seen in both live and replay shots).
In 2007, the first on-field advertising appeared since the park's early days. Sporting goods firm Under Armour placed its logo on the double-doors between the ivy on the outfield wall, in left-center and right-center fields. Advertisements were also placed in the dugouts, originally for Sears department stores, then Walter E. Smithe furniture and now State Farm insurance.
Corporate sponsorship has not been limited to the park itself. Wrigley Field is famous for its view of the neighborhood buildings across Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. In addition to spectators standing or sitting on the apartment roofs, corporate sponsors have frequently taken advantage of those locations as well. In the earliest days of Weeghman Park, one building across Sheffield Avenue advertised a local hangout known as Bismarck Gardens (later called the Marigold Gardens after World War I). That same building has since advertised for the Torco Oil Company, Southwest Airlines, and the Miller Brewing Company.
A building across from deep right-center field was topped by a neon sign for Baby Ruth candy beginning in the mid-1930s and running for some 40 years. That placement by the Chicago-based Curtiss Candy Company, coincidentally positioned in the line of sight of "Babe Ruth's called shot", proved fortuitous when games began to be televised in the 1940s—the sign was also in the line of sight of the ground level camera behind and to the left of home plate. The aging sign was eventually removed in the early 1970s.
Another long-standing venue for a sign is the sloping roof of a building behind left-center field. Unsuitable for the bleachers that now decorate many of those buildings, that building's angling roof has been painted in the form of a large billboard since at least the 1940s. In recent years it has borne a bright-red Budweiser sign and, beginning in 2009, an advertisement for Horseshoe Casino. Other buildings have carried signs sponsoring beers, such as Old Style (when it was a Cubs broadcasting sponsor) and Miller; and also WGN-TV, which has telecast Cubs games since April 1948.
For the 2009 season, The Chicago Cubs announced that the renovated restaurant space in the southeast corner of Wrigley Field, formerly known as the Friendly Confines Cafe, will now be known as the Captain Morgan Club.
On October 27, 2009, Thomas S. Ricketts officially took over 95% ownership of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field and 20% ownership of Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The Tribune will retain 5% ownership. Ricketts, however, has expressed no interest in selling the naming rights to Wrigley Field, preferring that it retain the name it has used since 1926.
"White flag time at Wrigley!"
Beginning in the days of P.K. Wrigley and the 1937 bleacher/scoreboard reconstruction, a flag with either a "W" or an "L" has flown from atop the scoreboard masthead, indicating the day's result. In case of a doubleheader that is split, both flags are flown.
Past Cubs media guides show that the original flags were blue with a white "W" and white with a blue "L", the latter coincidentally suggesting "surrender". In 1978, blue and white lights were mounted atop the scoreboard, to further denote wins and losses.
The flags were replaced in the early 1980s, and the color schemes were reversed with the "win flag" being white with a blue W, and the "loss flag" the opposite. In 1982, the retired number of Ernie Banks was flying on a foul pole, as white with blue numbers, in 1987, the retired number of Billy Williams joined Banks, the two flags were positioned from the foul poles, Banks from left field, and Williams from right field. Later on, other numbers joined: Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg, Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux, with Jenkins and Maddux both using the same number (31).
Keeping with tradition, fans are known to bring win flags to home and away games, and displaying them after a Cubs win. Flags are also sold at the ballpark. On April 24, 2008 the Cubs flew an extra white flag displaying "10,000" in blue, along with the win flag, as the 10,000th win in team history was achieved on the road the previous night. Along side the tradition of the "W" and "L" flags, the song "Go Cubs Go" is sung after each home win.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
The traditional singing of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" at Wrigley Field began when Hall of Fame announcer Harry Caray arrived in 1982 (he had sung it the preceding 7 years when he was the Chicago White Sox announcer), and has remained a staple at Wrigley Field during the Seventh Inning Stretch ever since. Today, former players, other sports stars, actors, and other famous people are invited to come and sing during the Seventh Inning Stretch in place of Caray, who passed away in 1998, among some of the most well-known, are former Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, former pitcher Mike Krukow, former longtime Cubs first baseman Mark Grace, former Houston Rockets star Tracy McGrady, actor/comedians Bill Murray and Jay Leno, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, singers Ozzy Osbourne and Eddie Vedder, and actors Tom Arnold and James Belushi.
References in popular culture
Wrigley Field had a brief cameo in the movie The Blues Brothers (1980), starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues. Elwood listed 1060 W. Addison as his fake home address on his Illinois driver's license, tricking the police and later the Nazis listening on police radio into heading for Wrigley Field. The Natural (1984), starring Robert Redford, had a scene set at Wrigley but was actually filmed at All-High Stadium in Buffalo, New York. All other baseball action scenes in that movie were shot in Buffalo, at the since-demolished War Memorial Stadium.
During Cubs games, fans will often stand outside the park on Waveland Avenue, waiting for home run balls hit over the wall and out of the park. However, as a tradition, Cubs fans inside and sometimes even outside the park will promptly throw any home run ball hit by an opposing player back onto the field of play, a ritual depicted in the 1977 stage play, Bleacher Bums, and in the 1993 film, Rookie of the Year.
The ballpark was featured in a scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, where the outside marquee read "Save Ferris". Many scenes from Rookie of the Year were filmed at Wrigley Field. Later, the film The Break-Up would use Wrigley Field as the setting for its opening scene. An early 1990s film about Babe Ruth had the obligatory scene in Wrigley Field about the "called shot" (the ballpark also doubled as Yankee Stadium for the film). A scoreboard similar to the one existing in 1932 was used, atop an ivy wall (though that did not exist until later in the decade).
The ballpark was used for the establishing tryouts scene in A League of Their Own (1992). This film was a Hollywood account of the 1940s women's baseball league which Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley championed during World War II. Garry Marshall (older brother of the film's director Penny Marshall) has a cameo as "Walter Harvey," Wrigley's fictional alter ego. The sign behind the scoreboard was temporarily redone to read "Harvey Field", and filming was split between Wrigley and Cantigny Park near Wheaton, IL.
Many television series have made featured scenes set in Wrigley Field, including ER, Crime Story, Chicago Hope, Prison Break, Perfect Strangers, and My Boys. Also, the animated comedy, Family Guy featured a scene at Wrigley Field, which parodied the Steve Bartman incident. In an episode of The Simpsons titled "He Loves to Fly and He D'ohs", upon arriving in Chicago, Homer walks past a number of famous Chicago landmarks, including Wrigley Field, followed by a generic looking stadium bearing the name "Wherever the White Sox play." In 2007, the band Nine Inch Nails created a promotional audio skit, which involved Wrigley Field being the target of disgruntled war veteran's terrorist attack.
The late-1970s comedy stage play, Bleacher Bums, was set in the right field bleachers at Wrigley. The video of the play was also set on a stage, with bleachers suggesting Wrigley's layout, rather than in the actual ballpark's bleachers. The tradition of throwing opposition home run balls back was explained by Dennis Franz's character: "If someone hands you some garbage, you have to throw it back at them!"
Chicago folk singer Steve Goodman featured Wrigley Field as the setting for his popular Cubs lament "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request," extolling both the trials of the Cubs and the place Wrigley Field holds in Cub fans' hearts. After his untimely death from leukemia, Goodman's ashes were in fact scattered at Wrigley Field as described in the lyrics.
The Statler Brothers' 1981 song "Don't Wait On Me" referred to a then-implausible situation: "When the lights go on at Wrigley Field." However, after lights were installed, the line was changed to "When they put a dome on Wrigley Field" for their 1989 Live-Sold Out album.
The stadium made a brief appearance in the open for the first episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, with Conan rushing through the turnstiles while running from New York (where his previous show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, was taped) to Los Angeles (where his new show was taped, until his role as host ended on January 22, 2010) and then running onto the field while being chased by Cubs security. The route O'Brien takes is somewhat misleading, as he is shown running south on Michigan Avenue past the Tribune Tower before arriving at Wrigley Field, which is well north of the Tribune Tower.
In the movie Category 6: Day of Destruction, a terrorist turns off all the electricity at the stadium for a few minutes to demonstrate how hackers could penetrate city electrical systems.
Accessibility and transportation
The Red Line stop at Addison is less than one block east of Wrigley Field. The stadium was originally built for proximity to the train tracks. At the conclusion of games, the scoreboard operator raises to the top of the center field scoreboard either a white flag with a blue "W" to signify a Cubs victory or a blue flag with a white "L" for a loss. This is done not only to allow passengers on the nearby "L" trains to see the outcome of the game, but also anyone passing by the park can now know the results of that day's game. Interestingly, the basic flag color was once the exact opposite of the colors used today (the rationale being that white is the traditional color for surrender). In addition to rail service, the CTA provides several bus routes which service Wrigley. CTA bus routes #22 Clark, #152 Addison and #154 Wrigley Field Express all provide access to the ballpark. Pace also operates the #282 Schaumburg-Wrigley Field Express from Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg and the #779 Yorktown-Wrigley Field Express from Yorktown Shopping Center in Lombard. Biking to the field is also a popular alternative. As Halsted, Addison, and Clark streets all have designated biking lanes, getting to the field via bicycle is a great way to avoid hectic traffic before and after games. Bikers need not worry about their bike during the game, because Wrigley Field offers a complimentary bike check program. Cyclists may check their bikes up to 2 hours before games at the bike racks off of Waveland Ave, and may pick up their bikes up to one hour after games end.
Parking in the area remains scarce, but that does not seem to bother fans who want to come to this baseball Mecca, which has drawn more than 3 million fans every year since 2004, averaging to a near-sellout every day of the season, even with many weekday afternoon games. The little parking that is available around the park can go for as much as $100 per space. To partially alleviate this problem, the Cubs sponsor a parking shuttle service from the nearby DeVry University campus at Addison and Western as part of their agreement with local neighborhood groups.
In 2001, a series of commemorative postage stamps on the subject of baseball parks was issued by the U.S. Postal Service. Most of them were engravings taken from old colorized postcards, including the illustration of Wrigley Field. In the case of Wrigley, the famous scoreboard was sliced off, presumably to hide the original postcard's banner containing the park's name. It may also be observed that the original black-and-white aerial photo, presumably from the 1945 World Series, was taken from nearly the identical spot as the photo of the 1935 Series, allowing a comparison before and after the 1937 alterations to the bleachers. The stamp and its sources also provide a rare look at the center field bleachers filled with spectators, a practice which was later discontinued due to the risk to batters, who might lose the flight of a pitch amidst the white shirts. This led to the development of darker backgrounds to the pitchers mounds.
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