Wrigley Field - Chicago Cubs
A fun stop on any tour of Chicago should include Wrigley Field. This fine stadium opened in April 1914 and the Chicago Cubs played their first game in 1916.
The surface of the stadium is Merion Bluegrass and clover and not astroturf as most people assume. The original stadium was built for a cost of $250,000. The stadium has been expanded from its original size which could only accommodate 14,000 people in 1914 and as of the last expansion in 1988 can now accommodate 38,900 sports fans.
Wrigley Field was originally built for the Federal League of baseball which was challenging the Major League Teams. However the Federal League folded and the stadium was purchased by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley who also purchased the Cubs.
An interesting fact about Wrigley Field is the scoreboard. The outfield bleachers went up in 1937 and the scoreboard was constructed the same year by Bill Veeck. It is still manually operated, and it still has never been struck with a batted ball, although Roberto Clemente and Bill Nicholson each hit home runs that barely missed.
Bill Veeck was also responsible for the ivy that gives Wrigley its distinctive look. In 1937 he planted 350 Japanese bittersweet plants and 200 Boston ivy plants. Eight Chinese elm trees were also planted on the bleacher steps to complement the ivy, but the wind from Lake Michigan kept blowing the leaves off and after multiple attempts at replacing the trees, they were removed.
The first permanent concession stand in baseball was built here in 1914. The custom of allowing fans to keep foul balls hit into the stands started here, as did the custom of throwing back home runs hit by opposing players.
If you get a chance during your next tour of Chicago, be sure to stop by Wrigley Field and see some great sports history.