Wrigley Field celebrates its 100th birthday on Wednesday, and even though the field has seen more losing, boozing, and heartbreak than anything else – including winning – it remains a treasured place in baseball history.
Through it all, however, and despite the perennial losing, Cubs fans are and will forever remain optimistic about the future. "This is the year," they think. And maybe it is, but it’s almost absolutely not.
But so it goes.
For now, let’s just take a look back at a handful of moments that have defined the Friendly Confines in the image below and enjoy it for what it has been instead of what it hasn’t.
The Called Shot
The debate continues more than 80 years later. Did Babe Ruth really point to the outfield wall before clubbing a homer in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series? He certainly did something, whether it was a wave, a point at the poor pitcher, or some other sort of hand gesture as he was being continuously ridiculed by fans and players. Regardless of the exact details, what we do know is that he socked a homer and the Yankees swept the Cubs. Chicago would make it to three more World Series in the next 13 years, and lose all of them.
Babe Ruth hits his called shot.
The Cubs right fielder became a national star during the home run race of 1998 when he battled with Mark McGwire to see who could pass Roger Maris’ record of 61 in 1961. They would both break Maris’ record that season and again the next season, but as would later be revealed, they were each linked to the use of performance enhancing drugs. Regardless, Sosa was a beloved Chicago sports’ icon and would routinely wave to the outfield fans, endearing himself to many.
Sayers’ Six TDs
The Bears rookie running back had 336 total yards and six touchdowns on December 12, 1965 in a 61-20 drubbing of the San Francisco 49ers in the muddy slop of Wrigley Field. The six scores tied an NFL record at the time and showcased an entirely new talent to the league. But as the theme goes, the dreaded Green Bay Packers would go on to win the Super Bowl that year.
Gale Sayers at Wrigley Field.
“Let’s Play Two”
Ernie Banks is perhaps the most beloved figure in Cubs’ history. Lovingly adorned the nickname “Mr. Cub,” he played 19 seasons for Chicago, garnering 14 All-Star appearances, two NL MVP awards and 512 home runs. His signature phrase “Let’s play two” is an homage to the lost tradition of playing doubleheaders and is a reflection of Banks’ passion for the game of baseball.
"Mr. Cub," Ernie Banks.
The Sandberg Game
On June 23, 1984 Cubs second baseman, Ryne Sandberg, 5 for 6 with two game-tying home runs off Cardinals closer Bruce Sutter in a nationally televised game. After the second homer, NBC broadcaster Bob Costas delivered the famous line, “Can you believe it?” Sandberg would go on to win the NL MVP award that year and lead the Cubs to the postseason for the first time since the team lost its most recent World Series in 1945. Head to the 34:00 mark in the video below to see Sandberg’s second homer.
The Bartman Game
The Cubs were five outs away from their first World Series appearance since 1945. Up 3-0 in the eighth inning of the NLCS against the Florida Marlins, Luis Castillo popped a foul ball down the left-field line. As the ball descended, fans including Steve Bartman attempted to catch what they thought was a souvenir. Unfortunately for the Cubs and Bartman, left fielder Moises Alou had the ball swiped away from his awaiting glove as he tried to get the Cubs one out closer to the Promised Land. The rest is history as the Cubs would suffer an epic collapse and Bartman would be demonized by seemingly everyone in Chicago and beyond. The Cubs haven’t gotten any closer to a championship since that night. Head to the 02:45 mark in the video below for the play.
The Curse of the Billy Goat
After a denying tavern owner Sam Sianisentry to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series because he wanted to bring his goat into the stadium, the famous “curse” was born. The Cubs, who led the Series 2-1, lost Game 4 and eventually the Series in seven games … and as you probably have gathered, have never made it back.
Sam Sianis and his goat.
There is no one moment that defines the Cubs legendary announcer Harry Caray. His singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch, his love of Budweiser and his famous expression “Holy cow!” only begin to scratch the surface of a character that many have imitated, but few can replicate.