Wrigley Field, the ivied baseball cathedral on Chicago’s North Side, has finally received federal landmark status 106 years after opening its doors.
‘Wrigley Field is a special place in the hearts of generations of fans,’ Cubs executive chairman and co-owner Tom Ricketts said in a statement on Thursday. ‘That’s why, from our first day as owners, we committed to preserving Wrigley, which will now take its well-earned place in the lineup of American history and culture as a national treasure.’
Wrigley becomes the second Major League Baseball stadium to receive federal landmark status, following Boston’s Fenway Park.
Wrigley Field, the ivied baseball cathedral on Chicago’s North Side, has finally received federal landmark status
Exterior view of Weeghman Park (completed 1914) under construction, near Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue
A shot of Wrigely’s ivied right field wall with the famed outfield stands peaking out from across Sheffield Avenue
Chicago Cubs manager Stan Hack (right) points to the #40 taped to the bat held by his star shortstop Ernie Banks in the clubhouse after Banks set a Major League record for shortstops when he hit his 40th homer of the season in a win against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on September 2, 1955
Initially known as Weeghman Park before chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. bought the club in 1921, Wrigley Field first opened in 1914, six years removed from the Cubs’ previous World Series title and 102 years before their last.
But while Wrigley’s tenants may have had a bad century, their stadium has become a Mecca for baseball fans, many of whom make the pilgrimage to 1060 West Addison Street during their lifetime. (The address became ingrained in the American pop culture psyche by the 1980 movie ‘Blues Brothers,’ when Dan Aykroyd’s character Elwood uses it to falsify his information and avoid police)
Rather than a winning home team, baseball purists have instead visited Wrigley to take in the ambiance, which includes its famed ivy-covered outfield wall and the rooftop stands peaking out at the park from across Sheffield and Waveland Avenues.
‘The historical significance of Wrigley Field is interwoven into our nation’s story and a key part of what has become America’s beloved pastime for over a century,’ David Bernhardt, the Secretary of the Interior, said in a press release. ‘It is with great enthusiasm that I designate this iconic national treasure, the site of many legendary events, innovations and traditions in baseball history, as a National Historic Landmark.’
Bernhardt wasn’t exaggerating about the ‘legendary events,’ in spite of the Cubs’ struggles for most of the 20th century.
In fact, five World Series, three All-Star games, the 1963 NFL title game, the NHL’s 2009 Winter Classic (an outdoor hockey game), and countless concerts have all taken place at Wrigley, which has been the Cubs’ home since 1916.
A general view of Wrigley Field during the game between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals on September 6
Babe Ruth pictured crossing home plate during Game 4 of the 1932 World Series in Chicago, where one game earlier the legendary Yankees slugger is said to have ‘called his shot’ before homering off of Cubs pitcher Charlie Root
A general view of the rooftops in a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals during the second game of a doubleheader on June 28, 2014 at Wrigley Field in Chicago
One of the game’s first true sluggers, the Cubs’ Hack Wilson swings during batting practice circa 1928 at Wrigley Field
Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg enjoyed individual success in Chicago, while the team struggled for much of his career
Legendary Cubs pitcher Ferguson Jenkins signs autographs for adoring Cubs fans before a game in 1973
A general view of exterior of Wrigley Field taken in a game during the 1988 season in Chicago
Wrigley Field was the site of Babe Ruth’s long-disputed ‘called shot’ in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. (Grainy film footage appears to show Ruth signaling beyond the outfield wall before he homered off of Chicago’s Charlie Root)
But that was hardly the last historic home run at Wrigley.
In 1938, player-manager Gabby Hartnett hit his ‘Homer in the Gloamin’ off of Pittsburgh’s Mace Brown to win the pennant.
In 1970, ‘Mr. Cub’ Ernie Banks hit his 500th career home run at Wrigley, where scandalized steroids cheat Sammy Sosa later knocked his 60th homer of the 1998, 1999, and 2001 seasons.
Despite Wrigley’s famous outfield winds, which may have aided countless home runs over the brick wall, the stadium is also known for legendary pitching performances.
Chicago’s Jim ‘Hippo’ Vaughn and the Cincinnati’s Fred Toney both tossed nine no-hit innings at Wrigley on May 2, 1917, before the Reds’ Jim Thorpe, a famous Olympian and football player, drove in the game-winning run in the 10th.
In 2007, longtime Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tom Glavine captured his 300th career win as a member of the New York Mets at Wrigley, where a young Kerry Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros players while pitching a one-hitter in 1998.
View of crowds standing on the field and in bleachers during a flag-raising ceremony at Weeghman Park, Chicago, 1914. A group of women in white dresses stands in front of the bleachers, and a large American flag is being raised in front of them. Weeghman Park was renamed Wrigley Field in 1927
The stadium has had its infamous moments as well.
In the sixth game of 2003 National League Championship Series, Florida’s Luis Castillo hit a foul popup along the third-base line, which Cubs fan Steve Bartman famously caught, denying left fielder Moises Alou the chance to record the final out in the eighth inning. Chicago needed only five more outs to secure a World Series berth, but instead gave up eight runs in the frame en route to an 8-3 loss.
The sting of Bartman’s catch subsided somewhat in 2016, when Chicago beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series to capture their first title since 1908, but the 2003 incident has come to epitomize the experience of Cubs fans.
Former Cubs slugger Andre Dawson throws out the first pitch before a game at Wrigley Field, where he once threw 17 bats out onto the field during a tirade aimed at umpire Joe West
Earlier that season, Cubs fans’ fervent adoration of Sosa began to subside after the Dominican-born outfielder was found to be using a prohibited corked bat during a game at Wrigley. Sosa defended himself saying that he liked to use the hollowed-out lumber for batting practice, but inadvertently grabbed the wrong bat when he went to the plate on June 3.
‘I just picked the wrong bat,’ he said in a statement. ‘I apologize to my team, to my fans. … I apologize to the commissioner of baseball.’
Wrigley was also the site of one of baseball’s most infamous tirades in 1991, when slugger Andre Dawson threw 17 bats onto the field after being called out on a disputed third strike by umpire Joe West. Dawson was later fined $500 and paid with a check containing the words ‘donation for the blind’ written on the memo line.
The ballpark still has many of its original features, and all subsequent modifications have been done carefully with Wrigley’s distinctive aesthetic in mind.
The Cubs famously resisted stadium lights until 1988, when the team first began playing the occasional night game in Chicago.
Previously the club added its scoreboard and its iconic ivy in 1937, both of which remain in the park to this day.
More recently, the Rickets family has invested more than $1 billion into Wrigley since 2014, helping to avoid the need to replace the stadium as the White Sox did with ancient Comiskey Park on the Chicago’s South Side in 1990.
It remains to be seen if Cubs fans will have to endure another century until their next World Series title. Team president Theo Epstein, the architect of the Cubs’ 2016 championship, stepped down earlier the month, but Chicago is coming off a first-place finish in the National League’s central division.
Whatever the future holds for the Cubs, Wrigley Field, with its landmark status in hand, is sure to be a part of it.
View of crowds lining up along the sidewalk outside Weeghman Park in 1914, before the Cubs moved into what is now known as Wrigley Field. The stadium was first home to Charlie Weeghman’s Federal League team, the Chicago Whales