Days of Wrigleyville

Washington Nationals @ Chicago Cubs.

2010 Regular Season at Wrigley Field to meet an old friend and to catch a game in the old neighborhood. I had a great childhood in the 1970’s, many good memories of living so close to the “Friendly Confines.” At one point, my family lived in a third floor apartment on Shefield Avenue, literally across the street from Wrigley Field, behind the right field bleachers. We could see the game from our living room window, everything except the right fielder who we could not see because of the bleachers. I had the good fortune, like some of the other kids in the neighborhood, to make my first money selling parking spots or souvenirs, among other jobs, for local businesses. Once in a while, I’d be lucky enough to get in and see the game for free. My first visit to a Major League Baseball (MLB) game was at Wrigley Field. I just don’t know when that was. Its like trying to remember when you first learned to walk. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the game of baseball. This was my back yard. I also thought it was awesome to live in a city with two MLB Teams. Believe it or not, my interest in baseball didn’t allow me to notice the Cubs-White Sox rivalry until I was 20 years old, when I first visited Old Comiskey Park. In the 1980’s (before inter-league play), the Cubs and the White Sox started to play an exhibition game once a year. That was my crash course into the feud. 

This is the only remaining MLB Park where Jackie Robinson once played, the second oldest Major League Baseball Park (behind Fenway Park 1912), the called shot by Babe Ruth in the 1932 World Series. This was where my sense of history was born. When you walk into Wrigley Field, its timeless. The green of the grass and its architectural marvel stirs the same feelings those fans had in 1914, when this park first opened. Back then, there was also the Federal League and a third team in Chicago named the Whales. They called this home. The Cubs were still at West Side Park where they played the 1908 World Series. Looking back, its hard to believe that the first night game in Wrigley Field was in 1988. Apparently, Cubs Owner P.K. Wrigley bought and stored equipment for lights under the bleachers. He had plans to install lights in February of 1942. But, the equipment would be donated to the war effort in December of 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor. For the next 46 years, lights were never a viable option for the Cubs.

These images were taken in 2010, five years before the multi phase construction and renovations that started in 2015. In 2009, The Ricketts Family purchased the Cubs from the Tribune Group for $900 million. Their vision was to restore a winning tradition. Capital improvements included a Sheraton Hotel, an office building, a plaza outside, subterranean clubhouse expansion, bleacher expansion, etc. In fact, the only elements left standing are the grandstand, the scoreboard, and the iconic outfield wall. The bleachers had recently been expanded just to give way to more progress. For better or for worst, the physical landscape of Wrigleyville has changed. With the World Championship of 2016, the Cubs Organization has enjoyed a renaissance era. This land, originally owned by the Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1891, was perhaps sacred from the beginning. Their fans are a testament of what having faith means.

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