Steve Krah
Steve Krah
Baseball has been sports reporter Steve Krah's passion since childhood. In Season Tickets, there will be plenty of stories from the diamond, but that's not all. Look for stories about athletic happenings and personalties of all kinds.

Other Stories by Steve Krah
Reporter Steve Krah covers sports for the Elkhart Truth.

Chicago Chi-Feds played first game at Weeghman Park in 1914

Wrigley Field celebrates the 100 years since its first game on Wednesday, April 23, when the Arizona Diamondbacks visit the Chicago Cubs.

Posted on April 22, 2014 at 5:28 p.m.

Wrigley Field celebrates the 100 years since its first game on Wednesday, April 23, when the Arizona Diamondbacks visit the Chicago Cubs.

There has certainly been a great deal of baseball history and more at "The Friendly Confines."

The devotion of lifelong fans is legendary.

There's the on-field exploits of Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams and Ryne Sandberg.

There's the calls by Jack Brickhouse, Lou Boudreau, Milo Hamilton and Harry Caray.

Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus once played football there, too, when Wrigley was home to the Chicago Bears.

Who can forget can about Babe Ruth's alleged "called shot" in the 1932 World Series, the curse of the billy goat and when the lights went on in 1988?

Who doesn't want to forget that it was 1945 since the Cubs last appeared in the World Series or the collapse of 2003 and Steve Bartman?

But did you know that the Cubs were not the first team to play at Wrigley Field?

In fact, the park started out as Weeghman Park and the first tenants were the Chi-Feds (aka Chicago Whales), the flagship franchise of the old Federal League — the last professional baseball circuit to challenge as a third major league to the National and American.

Weeghman Park, named for owner and Hoosier native Charles Weeghman and the creation of architect Zachary Taylor Davis, went up lickety-split prior to the 1914 season. Ground was broken March 4 and Opening Day was April 23, 1914.

The Federal League folded after the 1915 season and the Cubs took residence and Clark and Addison in 1916. The grounds became known as Cubs Park in 1920 and took on the name Wrigley Field in 1926 in honor of William Wrigley Jr., the club's owner.

Millions have enjoyed the charm of the park for generations.

"It was never meant to be a stadium," says Brian Bernardoni, a Wrigley Field tour guide for 17 years and guest Saturday, April 19 at the Society for American Baseball Research-hosted Wrigley Field symposium at The Cliff Dwellers Club in downtown Chicago. "It's always been a park and always meant to be friendly."

Bernardoni likes to tell fans how the park was rolled 60 feet on huge logs and so the current home plate is where the pitching mound once stood.

He also notes that the visiting locker room at Wrigley is so old that it has undoubtedly held more Hall of Famers — baseball or football — than any other in professional sports.

"There is something about Wrigley that feels like it was untouched for the last 75 years," said Stuart Shea, author of "Wrigley Field: The Long Life & Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines," and also a guest at the April 19 SABR symposium. "It's something that Wrigley Field can least afford to lose."

Why has Wrigley lasted 100 years?

There are many contributing factors.

Shea said there was no reason to move to a bigger facility in the 1940's, 1950's or 1960's and no money to do so in the 1970's.

In looking at Wrigley's future, Shea predicts that the grand old park will become more like other baseball parks with more walk-up songs, more advertisements and more multi-use (i.e. concerts, soccer matches, corporate tours).

Shea expects the Cubs to continue to monetize the bleachers and scoreboard and there's even talk of building a three-story club down the right field line.

"I worry that you are going to kill the golden goose," said Shea. "You used to be able to see a perfect vista of the city. Suddenly, you feel like you are inside a mall.

"It feels like the past to us. We run the risk of losing something special if you make too many massive changes. Once you've lost it, you can't recapture it."

But for now, Wrigley basks in the glow of its 100 consecutive years in Major League Baseball.

Recommended for You

Back to top ^