Visiting Wrigley Field is something that had been on my to-do list for a long time. I am an Anaheim Angels fan, but have been curious about the Cubs and Wrigley Field since they picked up Ron Cey from the Dodgers in 1982. Thus, I was excited to finally be able to tour the 2nd oldest MLB ballpark while in Chicago in September of 2008.
Many people may know that Wrigley Field was built in 1914 and didn’t have lights until August 8, 1988, but did you know that Wrigley Field was built on the grounds once occupied by a seminary? I didn’t and thought it was quite interesting. Originally known as Weeghman Park, it was the home of Chicago’s entry into the Federal League and was the property of Charles H. Weeghman. The first major league game at the ballpark took place on April 23, 1914, with the first homer in ballpark history being hit by Federals catcher Art Wilson.
When the Federal League folded for financial reasons after the 1915 campaign, Weeghman purchased the Cubs from the Taft family of Cincinnati and moved the club to the two-year-old ballpark at the corner of Clark and Addison streets. Then in 1916, the first National League game was played on April 20, 1916. The park became known as Cubs Park in 1920 after the Wrigley family purchased the team from Weeghman. Later it was named Wrigley Field in 1926 in honor of William Wrigley Jr., the club’s owner.
The Wrigley Field bleachers and scoreboard were constructed in 1937 when the outfield area was renovated to provide improved and expanded seating. The original vines were purchased and planted by Bill Veeck in September 1937. Veeck strung bittersweet from the top of the wall to the bottom. Later he planted the ivy at the base of the wall.
Tribune Company purchased the Cubs in 1981 and made some significant changes. the ticket office was built directly behind home plate in 1983, during the winter of 1984, a new home clubhouse was completed under the third base stands, the visitors’ clubhouse was renovated in 1990, lights were added in 1998, in 1989 private boxes were constructed on the mezzanine level, an elevator was added to the third base concourse in 1996, and following the 2005 season, the Cubs expanded the bleachers, adding a restaurant in the batter’s eye and a window to Sheffield Avenue in right field.
In 1902, a local newspaper penned the nickname Cubs for the first time. The moniker prevailed over time and was officially adopted by the club in 1907. During the 1906 season, they won their first pennant of the 20th century and went on to play in the only all-Chicago World Series. Sadly for Cub fans, the White Sox won four games to two in the series. The sadness didn’t last too long as the Cubs won their first World Series the next year, defeating the Detroit Tigers and Ty Cobb, four games to two. 1908 was pretty much a repeat of the 1907 series beating Detroit again except they won the series 4-1. This is also the year that pitcher Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown wins 29 games, setting a team record (since 1900) that stands today.
In 1947, Jackie Robinson made his major-league debut. When the Dodgers came to town in the middle of May, the stands were packed. They had the largest single-game attendance at Wrigley Field ever-46,572. In 1952, outfielder Hank Sauer wins the NL Most Valuable Player award. He hit a major league-leading 37 home runs and 121 RBI’s. In 1955, Sam Jones becomes the first Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter in nearly 40 seasons. Then in 1959 Ernie Banks becomes the first National Leaguer to win the MVP trophy in back-to-back seasons. Today he is still known as Mr. Cub.
In 1984, under manager Jim Frey, the organization wins its first NL Eastern Division championship, and return to post-season play for the first time since 1945. Pitcher Greg Maddux wins the NL Cy Young award in 1992, after posting a 20-and-11 record. In 1998. Sammy Sosa slugged 66 home runs and captured the NL MVP, as he battled St. Louis Cardinals’ slugger Mark McGwire in a home run race that captivated the nation. Sadly In 1998, the Cubs experienced the loss of two Hall-of-Fame broadcasters, Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse.
In 2007 new manager Lou Piniella guided the Cubs to their first postseason appearance since 2003, only to lose to the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. 2008 was the 100th anniversary of the last Cubs’ World Series championship. Happily, they capped it by winning their second straight National League Central title with a league-leading 97 wins. On Oct. 31 2014 manager Rick Renteria was dismissed, and three days later, Joe Maddon was hired as the new Cubs manager. He is now the Angels manager, and I am so happy he is back with the team. With him at the helm, the Cubs were able to do something they haven’t done since 1908, win a World Series. They achieved this in 2016 against the Cleveland Indians. It was a 7 game series that came down to one run. What a series it was. Before I end this post, I would like to note those former Cubs who have had their numbers retired: #10 – Ron Santo, #14 – Ernie Banks, #23 – Ryne Sandberg, #26 – Billy Williams, #31 – Greg Maddux, #31 – Ferguson Jenkins and #42 – Jackie Robinson whose number is retired across MLB.
There is so much history with the Cubs, and this post would be pages and pages. Please forgive me if I didn’t mention your favorite Cub past or present. I tried to grab some of the team’s highlights through the years. I had a great tour of Wrigley Field and learned a lot about the history of the Cubs and Wrigley Field. What I found quite interesting was seeing the scoreboard and the Cubs locker room. Most teams only let you see the visitor’s locker room. It was all roped off with a guard, but it was really great to see. It is quite an old stadium, but that is what makes it so special and unique. If you haven’t seen it before, I hope you make it one day. Here is a link to their website with more info about the team and tours of Wrigley Field.
Wrigley Field Visitor Information
1060 W. Addison St.
Chicago, IL 60613
What you will see on an offseason tour
- Visitors’ clubhouse
- Cubs’ dugout
- American Airlines 1914 Club
- Maker’s Mark Barrel Room
- The W Club
Length of an offseason tour
This is a 60 minute guided tour. Tours include outdoor stops and are conducted in rain or shine. Please dress accordingly.
Individuals: $30 (plus tax)
Children under 2 years old: FREE
Please note all tour stops and locations are subject to availability.
Take an exclusive tour through the Friendly Confines with your own personal tour guide.
Groups up to 50: $1,500 (plus tax)
Larger groups can be accommodated but may be split up depending on size.
Private Living Legend Tour
Your exclusive tour of the ballpark is joined by a former Cub who will share stories about his time spent at the Friendly Confines.
Groups up to 50: $5,000 (plus tax)
The best way to get to Wrigley Field is public transportation. Here are some directions depending on where you are starting from.
Chicago – Loop
Driving: Take Lake Shore Drive north to Irving Park Rd. Head west to Clark. Turn left (south). Wrigley Field is ahead on the left (east).
CTA: Get on Howard/Dan Ryan red line at the Jackson/State, Monroe/State, Washington/State or Lake/State stations. Take the northbound train to the Addison Street stop, which lets out one block east of the ballpark.
Chicago – North side
Driving: Lake Shore Drive to Irving Park Rd. Head west to Clark. Turn left (south). Wrigley Field is ahead on the left (east). If traffic is heavy on Lake Shore Drive, take Broadway or Clark to Addison.
CTA: Get on Howard/Dan Ryan red line. Take the southbound train to the Addison St. stop, which lets out one block east of the ballpark.
Chicago – Northwest side
Driving: Take 90 East to the Addison Street exit. Turn left (east) on Addison and proceed three miles to Wrigley Field. OR Take 90 East to Irving Park Rd. east to Clark. Turn right (south) and Wrigley is a few blocks ahead. OR If traffic is heavy on 90 East, take Milwaukee or Elston to Addison and head east OR Foster or Lawrence to Clark and head south.
CTA: Take CTA to nearest Blue line stop. Take the eastbound train to the Addison Street stop. Transfer to the CTA No. 152 eastbound bus, which lets off at the ballpark. TIP: Lane Tech High School on Addison and Western has a shuttle from its stadium parking lot during night games.
Chicago – West side
Driving: Take 290 East or 55 North to Lake Shore Drive. Take Lake Shore Drive to Irving Park Rd. Head west to Clark. Turn left (south). Wrigley Field is ahead on the left (east).
CTA: Take the blue line to Washington/Dearborn station. Walk downstairs to the Howard/Dan Ryan red line. Take the train to the Addison St. stop, which lets out one block east of the ballpark. OR Take the green line to State/Lake station. Take Howard/Dan Ryan red line northbound to the Addison St. stop, which lets out one block east of the ballpark.
Chicago – South side
Driving: Lake Shore Drive north to Irving Park Rd. Head west to Clark. Turn left (south). Wrigley Field is ahead on the left (east). OR Dan Ryan to 90/94 West. Exit on Addison and turn right (east). Wrigley Field is approximately three miles ahead. OR 57 North to Dan Ryan to 90/94 West to Addison and turn right (east). Wrigley Field is approximately three miles ahead.
CTA: Get on Howard/Dan Ryan red line. Take the northbound train to the Addison Street stop, which lets out one block east of the ballpark.
Chicago – Southwest side
Driving: Interstate 55 north to Interstate 90/94 north to the Addison Street exit. Turn right (east) on Addison and proceed three miles to the ballpark. OR Interstate 55 north to Lake Shore Drive north to Irving Park Rd. Head west to Clark. Turn left (south). Wrigley Field is ahead on the left (east).
CTA: Get to a stop on the Orange Line. Take an eastbound train to the Lake/State stop. Walk down the stairs to the State Street subway entrance and get on the northbound Howard/Dan Ryan red line. Take this to the Addison Street stop. Walk one block east on Addison and you’re at Wrigley Field.
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