Movie Review: '100 Years Of Wrigley Field'

Courtesy Chicago Cubs

From MLB Productions, there's a new 85-minute-long love letter to the old ballyard at Clark & Addison in Chicago.

I'm going to start this review at the end, and by that I mean I'm going to recommend highly that you buy this DVD -- and not just because I make a cameo appearance. More on that anon.

"100 Years of Wrigley Field" premiered at the Cubs Convention, so if you were there, you've likely seen the sneak preview. The Cubs were kind enough to send me a review copy so I could post my impressions of this MLB Productions film.

I give a lot of credit to the modern media arms of Major League Baseball. Setting aside for now the issue of game blackouts, MLB Network, MLB.TV and MLB Advanced Media have done an excellent job of staying ahead of the curve on bringing the game and its history to us as fans, especially now that they have loosened the restrictions on current and past video. For example, we can now embed videos in posts, there's a MLB YouTube channel, and they seem interested in bringing as much historic video as possible out front to everyone, though that hasn't happened as quickly as some of us would like.

Historic video is the best thing about "100 Years of Wrigley Field." In addition to some video you've likely seen many times (Ernie Banks' 500th home run, for example), there is film dating back as far as the 1920s and 1930s that I had never seen before, as well as video from the 1960s and 1970s that I had not seen anywhere since then. Kudos to those who researched and found all this video and put it together.

There are appearances by the Ricketts siblings (all four of them) and Crane Kenney in this film talking about the Cubs, as well as by actors who are Cubs fans such as Jim Belushi and Joe Mantegna, but the real stars of this film, as far as I'm concerned, are historians John Thorn and Ed Hartig. Thorn has authored numerous books on baseball and since 2011 has been MLB's official historian; Hartig is a local baseball historian and expert who provides facts about Cubs history to the team when they need them and who also has been very gracious and helpful to me in my various writing efforts about Cubs history.

Between them, they lend authenticity to the film as they explain various historic aspects of Wrigley Field with which you might not be familiar. I was very glad to see both of them included. Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg and Fergie Jenkins also appear and share their memories of playing in Wrigley. There's also a long section paying tribute to Harry Caray and his popularity, as well as memories of Jack Brickhouse's more than three decades as the Cubs' TV voice.

The film's present-day video is well-shot and edited and appears in very rich color; this is a really beautiful film as well as one stocked full of the history of the ballpark, as well as that of the Cubs themselves.

Oh, about me. There's a section on "Wind" as it affects play at Wrigley Field; after Fergie and others discuss how they dealt with Wrigley's winds, you'll see the shot of me wrestling with my umbrella on that windy day last May against the White Sox. Hey, it's my 15 seconds -- just about literally -- of fame. I'll take it.

This is a really nicely done tribute to a century of baseball at Clark & Addison and I highly recommend it to all of you. The DVD will ship March 11 but you can preorder it now at this link.

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