Wrigley Field 101: The Basics

UPDATE: Unless you've been living under a very, very big rock, you know that the Chicago Cubs won the first game of the National League Playoffs take place tonight between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants at their home,

UPDATE: Unless you’ve been living under a very, very big rock, you know that the Chicago Cubs won the first game of the National League Playoffs take place tonight between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants at their home, Wrigley Field. For the uninitiated, here’s a quick primer on this historic ballpark. 

History

Since it was built in 1914 Wrigley Field has gone through a few owners, and in the early years, name changes. The space was originally home to a seminary when Charles H. Weeghman erected the baseball field. Naturally, Weeghman named the park for himself. For the first couple of years the Federals, also known as the Whales, played in his namesake. After the Federal League folded in 1915 Weeghman purchased the Cubs. The field remained Weeghman Park until the Wrigley family bought the team in 1920. They didn’t name it after themselves yet, though. For the first six years it was known as Cubs park. It wasn’t until 1926 that it was given its current name of Wrigley Field.

The park is steeped in tradition. The scoreboard has been there since 1937 and it is still operated manually and at games you can see them pull down numbers and put up the new ones. The famous ivy that covers the outfield walls was planted by Bill Veeck in the same year. Lights weren’t installed until 1988, the last park to in the major league to add them.

In 1981 the Tribune Company purchased the Cubs, followed several years later by the Ricketts family in 2009. Neither elected to change the name but both owners have made improvements to the infrastructure.

Food and Drink

While the food and drink at Wrigley Field used to be strictly traditional, recently they’ve added craft beer and gourmet encased meats (we love you Hot Doug’s!). If you want the standards you can still get your Vienna Beef Chicago-style dog paired with a good ol’ Old Style.  

More than just baseball

Wrigley Field has been home to more than just the Chicago Cubs. In 1920 the Chicago Tigers played football in Cubs Park. Football continued from 1921 to 1970 as the Chicago Bears called the field home. For a brief stint the Chicago Sting, part of the short-lived North American Soccer League, played at all three of Chicago’s major parks. From 1974 to 1988 they spread their games among Soldier Field, Comiskey Park, and Wrigley Field.

In addition to sports the Friendly Confines, so named by famous Cub Ernie Banks, has also hosted several concerts, including Jimmy Buffet, Roger Waters, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and The Police.

TLTip: The goat may be the animal most associated with Wrigley Field, but there was an actual bear cub at the first National League game in 1916.

Wrigleyville

The neighborhood surrounding Wrigley Field is known as Wrigleyville. It’s characterized by bars and restaurants that quickly fill up on game days, especially during the playoffs! One of the most famous venues is Cubby Bear, located kitty-corner from the ballpark. In addition to hosting fans during the season it also hosts concerts year-round.

On the north and east sides of the park are the Wrigleyville Rooftops. These offer a different way to see the game and generally provide buffet dining and open bars.

Coming in 2018, Wrigleyville will have its own hotel. The Hotel Zachary, named after Wrigley Field’s architect, will have 175 rooms and restaurants from the people behind some of the city’s best eats.

Tours

To really get the inside scoop on Wrigley Field take one of its tours. Go on a non-game day and you’ll get to see the press box, the Cubs’ and Visitors’ clubhouses, and the Cubs’ dugout. You’ll even get to step out onto the field.  Tours run rain or shine April through October.

 

Photo credit Rex Hammock

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