10 Things to Know about Wrigley Field
CHICAGO (AP) Wrigley Field is turning 100 this year. Here are 10 things you might not know about the ballpark:
1. THE IVY WALL IS USED AS A HIDING PLACE
One ball flies into Wrigley Field’s ivy-covered wall and two pop out. It’s happened a few times over the years, the result, some say of balls being hit there during batting practice and remaining there until something – an outfielder, maybe – slams into the wall to dislodge it. But there are also stories that players hid balls there in case they needed to find one quickly to throw a runner out. And it’s said the Cubs’ Hank Sauer found it a convenient place to store tobacco pouches.
2. THE HIGHEST SCORING GAME WAS PLAYED THERE
The Cubs and the Phillies played the highest scoring game in Major League Baseball history, a 26-23 affair the Cubs won, at Wrigley on Aug. 25, 1922. The Phillies only used two pitchers the entire game.
3. GEHRIG’S HOMER
A dozen years before Babe Ruth’s famed `Called Shot,’ teammate Lou Gehrig hit an equally dramatic homer. Gehrig was 17 when his high school team traveled to Chicago to take on a Chicago team. In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and his team down 8-6, Gehrig hit a ball over wall and onto Sheffield Avenue to win the game.
4. THE FIELD HAS CHANGED OVER TIME
The Wrigley Field grandstand is one of the most familiar sites in all of baseball. What isn’t widely known is that the grandstand once stood about where the pitcher’s mound is today. In the 1920s, the grandstand was sliced into 11 pieces, put on rollers and rolled back to where it is today and reassembled.
5. THERE WAS A TIME WHERE IT WAS TOUGH TO FIND A CROWD
Year after year, the Chicago Cubs have been one of the biggest draws in all of baseball. Eight years in a row, until 2011, attendance topped the 3 million mark. But the Cubs drew tiny crowds for years, with one game in 1966 played before fewer than 600 fans. For a 15-year stretch ending in 1967, the Cubs never drew as many as 1 million fans and drew as few as 609,000.
6. IT PIONEERED FIRSTS
Wrigley was the first ballpark where fans could keep foul balls. The first permanent concession stands? They were at Wrigley. The first stadium with organ music? That was Wrigley, too.
7. THERE WAS A BEAR ON THE FIELD
Joa, a live Cub, greeted fans at the first National League game at the stadium in 1916. Local zookeeper Cy Devry led Joa around the park and even to home plate for photographers.
8. CLASSIC TOUCHES CAME LATER
The famed marquee, scoreboard and ivy were not original parts of the ballpark. The marquee went up in 1934 and was more of a bluish color at the time. The ivy was installed three years later. The scoreboard originally was a reddish brown with a white clock and was painted its familiar dark green in 1944.
9. IT’S NOT JUST FOR BASEBALL
Wrigley Field has hosted everything from boxing to soccer to pro wrestling to the circus to the rodeo to concerts to a Chicago Blackhawks game. But the most unusual event? Ski jumping. On back-to-back weekends in January 1944, ski jumpers leapt from scaffolding covered in snow and ice, landing behind second base.
10. NO ONE HAS (REALLY) HIT THE SCOREBOARD.
About that famed scoreboard: No one’s hit it. Actually no one’s hit it with a batted ball, but Sam Snead did with a golf ball. Teeing off from home plate, he drove one off the scoreboard and sent one over it before the 1951 opener against the Reds.