Wrigley Field
1060 W. Addison St.

Wrigley Field on the last day of the 2003 regular season

Wrigley Field on the last day of the 2003 regular season-Wrigley Field on the last day of the 2003 regular season Right field and Sheffield Street
Wrigley Field on the last day of the 2003 regular season-Wrigley Field on the last day of the 2003 regular season-Looking down at the world-famous ivy in right-field
Wrigley Field on the last day of the 2003 regular season--

Dusty Baker's seat in the Cubs' dugout-The view from Dusty Baker's seat in the Cubs' dugout


The Wrigley Field organ-The view from the press box-The Wrigley Field press box

The WGN TV perch-The door to the WGN Radio booth, with the producer's chair in view-The Wrigley Field press box

The Cubs' clubhouse-Sammy Sosa's locker, complete with his famous boom box
The visitors' clubhouse, filled with tourists on an off day-Dodgers' star closer Eric Gagne's locker-The visitors' laundry room-

The stadium is aging, as is evident behind this railing leading to the left field grandstand

Game shots from 9/28/03 game against the Pirates.
Shots of empty stadium and clubhouses from August
'03 tour of the stadium.

2003 NB

Wrigley Field was built on the site of a seminary, and the corner of Clark and Addison has been a sacred place ever since. One of the most famous places of any kind in any city, the stadium is a reminder of how great baseball used to be.

Since it was founded with the motto urbs in horto, or "city in a garden," the city of Chicago was a physical paradox, with the filth and noise of its factories alongside the verdant serenity of its parks. Wrigley Field's pastoral purity is part of what makes it timeless; the sight of the smooth green lawn stretching toward the ivy tumbling down the outfield wall provides a refreshing escape from the din and dirt of city life. There is no odious JumboTron to ruin the view, as there is in every other major league park. For a long time, in fact--until the emergence of slugger Sammy Sosa and the Cubs' premier young pitching staff--the stadium itself was the main reason to go to a Cubs game.

The odd thing about Wrigley's prominence as a living monument to baseball is that it has a far more illustrious history as a football stadium. Few fans remember that Wrigley Field hosted the Chicago Bears from their move to Chicago in the 1920's to their move to the lakefront in the early 70's. In fact, no other football stadium has hosted more NFL games than Wrigley Field (New Jersey's Meadowlands, which hosts both the Giants and the Jets, will finally break that mark in a year or two). And the players that took the gridiron here include the most storied in Bears history--Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Mike Ditka, and coach (and Cubs fan) George Halas. But where Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park are standing-room-only for the ghosts of their Hall-of-Famers, as a baseball stadium, Wrigley just doesn't have as many heroes and great moments (one would-be legend, Babe Ruth's called shot, was a myth; he didn't really point to center field before hitting a home run). In fact, when the Cubs lost to the Red Sox in the 1918 World Series, they played at Comiskey Park, not Wrigley Field, which was too small at the time. That's not to say there were some big baseball firsts here; Wrigley was the first ballpark to let fans keep foul balls, the first to have an organist, and the first to build a permanent concession stand.

There are other reasons to tame one's romanticism about this picturesque ballpark, including the yuppie fans who populate it. The glut of Eddie Bauer-clad, Big Ten alum Lincoln Park loft-dwellers with a cell phone in one hand and a beer in the other is not what baseball is all about (although, to their credit, Cubs fans are into the game; they form one of only four or five big-league crowds to roar for strike two against the visitors and ball three for the home team). Spare us talk of how this Lexus-driving crowd is "long-suffering."

Since the early 1980s, there's been another ugly dent in the Cubs' cuddliness, and that's the Tribune Company. The same behemoth that owns the Chicago Tribune and WGN TV and radio, and recently gobbled up a chain of newspapers from Los Angeles to Orlando to New York, is now the custodian of this baseball treasure. Already the Tribune Company plunked lights on Wrigley's roof (which I'm OK with; some night games can be nice, and few realize that Cubs' owners had pondered putting lights up in the 40's) and plans to put seats over the south sidewalk of Waveland. The day is coming--perhaps not for 20 or 50 years, but coming nonetheless--when the powers that be decide that the stadium is just too creaky and cramped and build a place of comfort and profit (hopefully it will not be greeted as eagerly by the Tribune newspaper as when, during the lights controversy of 1988, an editorial called for "a Wrigley Field replica in the suburbs" and "hole in the ground left at Clark and Addison").

The most important part of Wrigley's mystique is its physical participation in its neighborhood and city. Most pro sports stadiums are self-contained and stranded in vast parking lots (or, in a recent twist, built as retro replicas in reviving industrial areas). Wrigley embraces its surrounding blocks--Clark, Addison, Sheffield, Waveland, and beyond--and enlivens its unique North Side neighborhood (Wrigleyville, as realtors and beer ads call the area). Wrigley has streets, apartments, bars, El trains, and atmosphere around it. This is what sports used to mean to cities, before fans' and teams' suburban migration, and it's why the stadium is irreplaceable as a sports treasure.

Until that suburban replica is erected, I relish the fact that, for all the nostalgia that sustains baseball, for all of the wistful reflections I've heard from fans of the old Brooklyn Dodgers or Yankee greats like Mickey Mantle, I'll someday be able to tell my son or daughter how I used to take the Red Line to watch Hall of Famer Sammy Sosa and the Cubs at Wrigley Field. 

"Wow, Dad," they'll say. "Was that before they were renamed the Chicago Tribs?" -NB

The ballpark we love is many things. It is a museum and a hot dog joint. It is a day at the beach and a night in the rain. It is a national monument and a neighborhood hangout. It is a circus and a cathedral. It is a delightful contradiction. On the one hand, it is a time capsule, infused with history. On the other hand, it maintains an everyday familiarity and a willingness to change at a moment's notice. Wrigley Field is both a celebrity and a good friend. It is priceless jewelry that you can wear. ... [It] has refused to age gracefully. It has refused to age, period.
-Mark Jacob, Wrigley Field: A Celebration of the Friendly Confines

-History of Wrigley Field from Cubs.com
-Review of Wrigley Field from ESPN.com's Jim Caple
-Review of Wrigley Field from ChicagoBarProject.com

Coming soon: Timeline of Wrigley history


© Copyright 2001-2003
Nathan L.K. Bierma