Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008
While it seems that singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" has been a Wrigley Field seventh-inning ritual practically forever, it actually started in 1982 when Harry Caray ditched the south-side White Sox broadcasts to cover the north-side Cubs instead. He brought his, well, let's call it high-spirited version of the song with him. "Harry sings, everybody else joins in," said one long-time fan.
Friday, Dec. 26, 2008
Bill Veeck was one of major league baseball's most colorful owners, and most Cubs fans know that despite Veeck's crosstown White Sox loyalties that his father planted the ivy for Wrigley Field's wall. After divesting of the Sox, Veeck was a shirtless regular in the Wrigley bleachers during the early 1980s. "The scent of suntan oil, broiled hot dogs and spilled bear create a wondrous feeling of euphoria," he said.
Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008
While the NHL's ice guru, Dan Craig, would prefer clear skies for the Jan. 1 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009, some fans want the white stuff. It's a far cry from the hand of snow-outs the Cubs have experienced with home openers during early April. In 1975, the Cubs endured two "snow days" before finally opening the season with snow still piled around the outside of the park and temperatures in the 30s.
Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008
One of the Cubs’ most famed sluggers, Dave Kingman, only spent three seasons in the team’s home pinstr ipes. Kingman smacked 94 homers in his Cubs years, but his longest HR shot at Wrigley came as a Met in 1976 when his batted ball not only carried out of the park and Waveland Avenue beyond left field, it went over three houses beyond Waveland, landing on a porch.
Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008
For a ballpark known for its baseball, Wrigley Field has staged its share of other "sports." One example: Three rodeos were held here in 1946, 1947 and 1952 (this last event was under portable lights). The rodeos, ahem, proved challenging for the grounds crew. "After the rodeo, we had to do a lot of sodding," said one grounds crew member. "The animals had 'gone' all over the infield. It was rough."
Monday, Dec. 22, 2008
In 1991, the producers of the movie "A League of Their Own," went on location at Wrigley Field. Fitting enough, since former Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley launched the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1943. Several exhibition games were played at the ballpark, including at least one under portable lights on July 1. There is no record of any crying at any point in any of the games.
Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008
The "Friendly Confines" could be hard-edged at times. For pro football's Bears, field dimensions allowed just enough room for 100 yards plus end zones. One end zone bordered on the left-field bleacher wall and the other end zone by the first-base dugout. "I ran into the dugout, I never ran into the wall, I was too smart for that," said Mike Ditka, "Da Coach" who played tight end the 1960s.
Monday, Dec. 15, 2008
Many Chicago sports fans know Hawks President John McDonough held similar duties with the Cubs. But fewer know McDonough served as marketing director for the Chicago Sting professional soccer team. He recalls the Sting playing at Wrigley Field one summer day in 1981 with 35,000 fans on hand: "It was loud. When we played at Soldier Field [with 18,000 fans] it was like playing in front of a studio audience."
Friday, Dec. 12, 2008
On Dec. 12, 1965, Wrigley Field was a mud bath for a Chicago Bears-San Francisco 49ers football game. But no matter to Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers, who scored six touchdowns as he seemed the only player unaffected by the quagmire underfoot. Sayers scored on a punt return for TD #6 before coach George Halas pulled him to avoid injury to Sayers and insult to the 49ers.
Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008
Cubs opening day, 1951. There was a 450-foot drive that cleared the huge center-field scoreboard. But not a Cubbies home run–or the cynic's guess of an opponent's homer. Rather, golf legend Sam Snead nailed the monstrous shot in street clothes, nursing a recently broken left hand and using no tee. Snead used a four-iron to bounce a golf ball off the scoreboard, then cleared it with a two-iron.
Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008
Cubs in the World Series? Last time was 1945 against, ahem, Detroit. The Cubs lost in seven games, but not without thrills. Chicago beat the Tigers in a wild 8-7 extra-inning Game 6 victory to tie the Series. Then owner Phil Wrigley staged a public sale of all Game 7 tickets. He hadn't presold the tickets, perhaps in light of the Cubs dropping Games 4 and 5 to fall behind in the Series. A feared riot never occurred.
Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2008
Today's pop quiz: How many decades were the Chicago Bears regular tenants at Wrigley Field? One? Two, three, four? None of the above. The Bears played at Wrigley for five decades, including some bitter cold days and bitter rivalries with the likes of the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. "It was Chicago football," says legendary tight end and "Da Coach" Mike Ditka. "The first-base end zone almost always was frozen." "It was real home-field advantage," says Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers. "Fans were so close to the playing field in every direction."
Monday, Dec. 3, 2008
On Dec. 3, 1926, the former Weeghman Park, then called Cubs Park, was renamed Wrigley Field for the team's owner and gum company founder William Wrigley. Fair enough, since earlier that fall Wrigley announced ambitious plans to double-deck the park, creating an upper deck still standing today that will be the best-view seats at the upcoming Winter Classic Jan. 1 between the Blackhawks and Red Wings. That fall was busy. Detroit joined the NHL in 1926, starting as the Cougars, becoming the Falcons in 1930, then settling on the Red Wings nickname by 1933.