Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field, one of baseball’s oldest and most renowned parks in all of the US.
In 1914, the Chicago Federals played the opening game against the Kansas City Packers at Wrigley Field. Today the name is different, but not much else is. Even the scoreboard is done manually.
The Chicago park is where time stood still, which is a stark contrast to the city that is one of the great American metropolises with enormous skyscrapers. And yet, its ballpark couldn’t be more old fashioned.
Visiting Wrigley Field is a tradition that spans generations in some families. Chicago may be a big city, but it has that small, Midwest feel in part thanks to the Cubs and their old-fashioned park.
For Mike Conoboy, the groundskeeper of 25-years, walking into the park for the first time as a youngster left its mark:
“The first game I came to as a kid in 1965, I remember walking up them stairs and seeing the field, getting that feeling. It was breathtaking. And you know what? Even to this day, every once in a while, I still feel that.
“My dad took me here. I took my kids here. His dad took him here. I mean, when so you think about Wrigley Field – it’s not just the baseball.”
The ivy-covered outfield walls look the same as they did 100 years ago, as does the scoreboard and most other things at Wrigley Field. One can look at it as a time capsule of sorts, in the midst of all the development that surrounds it.
It took 74 years to install lights at Wrigley. Before that occurred, games could only be played during daylight hours, much like Wimbledon is in England. As a matter of fact, both are very similar in many ways.
There are countless old stories about the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field, perhaps the most enduring one has to do with the “curse” that never seems to leave the team. They haven’t won a National League pennant since Billy Sianis was kicked out of the World Series in 1945, and have not won a World Series since 1908.
However, some believe that the Wrigley Field is actually the reason for club’s curse, but no matter. When Chicago celebrates on Wednesday, the Cubs will wear the old Federals uniforms, and the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks will wear the uniforms of the Kansas City team.
Some classic moments have taken place at Wrigley Field during the years, such as Babe Ruth pointing to what seemed to be the outfield before one of his many home runs in 1932, Jackie Robinson becoming the first African American player to compete in the majors in 1947, and the most runs scored in a game in 1922 (Cubs 26 and Phillies 23).
A true American classic. Happy 100th birthday, Wrigley Field!