Whether you love or hate the Chicago Cubs, you recognize their iconic home, Wrigley Field, aka "The Friendly Confines." The building with the red sign is celebrating its centennial this baseball season. Wednesday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks is the official 100th birthday of the park.
Our generation has always know it as Wrigley Field, but it didn't receive that name until 1926. Many of the features of the ballpark that are still there today were installed in 1937, such as the bleachers, the scoreboard and that ivy on the outfield wall.
One improvement you may remember is the installation of lights in 1988. The owners and fans fought bringing the lights to the field, but finally gave in. The Cubs became the last team in the Major Leagues to play night games at their home field.
A first did happen at Wrigley Field. Harry Caray is credited with being the first person to sing "Take me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch. The man with the shock of white hair, and big round glasses led everyone in the iconic tune for over twenty years. To read about Harry's career, read "Where's Harry?" by his broadcast partner, Steve Stone.
Wrigley Field oozes history. Who better to write about it than Jerome Holtzman? He was named Major League Baseball's historian in 1999. Starting in 1943, he wrote a sports column for Chicago papers. Before his passing, he wrote the book "Baseball, Chicago Syle" which details the city's baseball tradition. Chicago is the only city to have two baseball teams that have endured. And that is not because they win pennants or World Series. By reading this book, you may discover the mystique of these cross town rivals.
There is no greater baseball fan than George Will. He has written his second book about baseball titled "A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred." Even though the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908, Will is still an enthusiastic backer. Take a leisurely stroll with George, and meet some of the quirky, memorable people associated with the team.
Read about Cubs icons such as Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg, Greg Maddux, and more in "Wrigley Field: The Centennial: 100 Years at the Friendly Confines" by Les Krantz. This book is filled with photographs, and includes a DVD narrated by Lou Boudreau, Jr. featuring footage from the history of the stadium. Do you want to see a clip of Babe Ruth's "called shot?" It's in here, along with many of the historic baseball moments that have happened at the Friendly Confines.
We are fortunate because we're only a day trip away from this historic ball park. If you go, the Cubs may not win, but you can soak up all the tradition that is a game at Wrigley Field.