As one of Chicago’s most treasured landmarks and one of the most hallowed grounds in all of sports, Wrigley Field is a true treasure and a monument with over a century of history to its name. From the ivy fences and the curse of the billy goat to hosting some of the greats like Ernie Banks, Roger Hornsby, and Johnny Evers, the history of Wrigley Field is quite rich.
It may seem strange for many Cubs fans to envision, but there was indeed a time in Chicago baseball history before Wrigley Field. The existence of a baseball stadium on Wrigley’s grounds goes back to the early 1900s. It started out as Weeghman Park back in 1914 when the Federal League club, the Chicago Chi-Feds (later the Chicago Whales), played their games there to audience of up to 14,000. The Federal League eventually struggled financially, and it was in 1916 that the Cubs played their first game at Weeghman Park, beating the Cincinnati Reds 7-6.
Transition to Wrigley Field
Weeghman began struggling with money, and chewing gum magnate William Wrigley came in and gradually began buying out more and more stock in the team. In November of 1918, Weeghman resigned his stock to Wrigley, allowing him to gain total control of the team by 1921. Throughout the 1920’s, Wrigley would help build up what was then known as “Cubs Park” with major renovations, including double decking the grandstand in 1927-1928. The park was officially renamed Wrigley Field before the start of the 1927 season.
For many, many years, Wrigley Field was famous for being a bastion of daytime baseball in a league that had largely conceded to nighttime games. There was actually a historical contingency that prevented the lights from being installed. They were scheduled to go in, but the onset of World War II forced the installation to be delayed, and former owner’s Philip K. Wrigley’s procrastination to install lights went on for years.
Let There Be Light/Chicago Tribune Company Era
The Chicago Tribune Company took over the Cubs in 1981, which led to many changes to the stadium and the team. In 1988, the first game was played under lights, while the past 25 years have led to many other changes, including bleacher renovations in 2005-2006. For a brief period there was talk of selling the rights of the “Wrigley Field” name, but that ended when the Tribune Company sold the Cubs to the Ricketts family in 2009.
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