Eligible for Designation as a
National Historic Landmark
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
Wrigley Field in Chicago, facing the famous outfield wall
and scoreboard. Image courtesy of the Chicago Cubs, 1985.
Wrigley Field, nicknamed the "Friendly
Confines," is the second oldest ballpark in the major leagues
and the oldest standing National League ballpark. It has been
the home of the Chicago Cubs since 1916, and served as the longtime
playing field for the Chicago Bears, a major league football
team that first gained prominence in the 1920s.
The Chicago Cubs franchise, the only charter National League team
still playing in its original city, has been the primary tenants
of Wrigley Field since 1916. Originally named Weeghman Park, the
field was built in 1914 for Charles Weeghman and his Chicago Whales
of the Federal League, an unsuccessful contender with the established
National and American Leagues. The first major league game at
the park occurred on April 23, 1914; the Federals beat Kansas
As part of negotiations between the three
leagues in 1915, Charles Weeghman was offered an option to buy
the Cubs. In order to do so, he recruited investors that included
William Wrigley, the owner of the Wrigley chewing gum company.
Weeghman raised the necessary money and the first National League
game at Weeghman Park was held on April 20, 1916; the Cubs beat
the Cincinnati Reds. In 1918, Weeghman sold his interest in
the team to Wrigley and the field became known as Cubs Park
in 1920. The ballpark was officially renamed for William Wrigley,
Jr. in 1926.
Wrigley Field is noted for several interesting
innovations in baseball history. Weeghman, in 1916, originated
the custom of permitting fans to keep balls fouled into the
stands, now a universal practice. He also placed refreshment
booths behind the stands, reducing the number of vendors who
plied the crowds, an innovation likewise extensively copied.
The Wrigleys arranged to broadcast the club's games beginning
in 1925; this was the first occasion on which the new medium
was used for this purpose. Rather than causing people to stay
home, the broadcasts drew fans from all over the Midwest and
contributed vastly to the club's popularity.
A well-known feature of Wrigley Field
is the ivy-covered, brick outfield wall. The wall and the equally
well-known bleachers behind it were constructed in 1937 when
the outfield area was renovated. The ivy was planted by Bill
Veeck during this renovation. The 27-foot high scoreboard was
also added at this time, and remains manually-operated to this
day. One of the traditions of the ballpark is the flying of
a flag bearing a "W" or an "L" atop the
scoreboard after a game. A white flag with a blue "W"
indicates a victory; a blue flag with a white "L"
denotes a loss. The Chicago Tribune Company has owned the Chicago
Cubs since 1981. Many improvements have been made to Wrigley
Field since that time, including the addition of lights for
night games in 1988.
Wrigley Field was the stage for the Cubs
capture of the National League championship in 1918, 1929, 1932,
1935, and 1938, but the Cubs lost the World Series in each of
these years. The third game of the 1932 Series, with the Cubs
facing the New York Yankees at Wrigley, gave baseball one of
its most immortal and vigorously debated episodes. Babe Ruth
came to bat in the fifth inning, with the score tied 4-4. After
each of two strikes off Cubs pitcher Charley Root, Ruth held
up a finger and appeared to point to the center-field corner.
Ruth then proceeded to hit a home run over the fence in that
corner. In 1938, Cubs fans at Wrigley witnessed Gabby Hartnett's
renowned "Homer in the Gloamin" that clinched the league lead
for the Cubs on the next to last day of the season. After 1938
the Cubs, except for a National League pennant in 1945, enjoyed
no pronounced success until 1984, when they won the National
League East title, which they again won in 1989.
1940s postcard of Wrigley Field.
Wrigley Field is not listed on the National
Register, but it has been determined eligible for designation
as a National Historic Landmark. The Secretary of the Interior
determined it eligible on February 27, 1987.