Perhaps you've heard. The ballpark we now know as Wrigley Field opened as Weeghman Park April 23, 1914.
The 100th anniversary of that date is coming up, next Wednesday, when the Diamondbacks are in town to face the Cubs in a 1:20 p.m. start, and the Cubs have quite a few things planned to celebrate the park's centennial. Here are just a few of those.
If you are among the first 30,000 fans joining the team for this once-in-a-lifetime milestone, you will receive a replica 1914 Chicago Federals jersey, mirroring the throwback Chi-Feds home uniforms the Cubs will wear on the field. The D'backs will participate in the historic date as well by wearing Kansas City Federal League uniforms.
In addition to receiving replica jerseys, if you are among the first 10,000 fans entering Wrigley Field, you'll receive a birthday cupcake compliments of Jewel-Osco. I have been assured that you will be receiving an actual cupcake.
You will also be able to view an elaborate decorative cake from Carlo's Bakery, setting of the hit TLC show Cake Boss, near the Ernie Banks statue on Clark Street until the third inning. The cake will then be transferred to Cubs Charities’ Bricks & Ivy Ball at the Field Museum, where a portion will be served to guests.
These birthday gifts aren’t the only reason you might want to arrive early for the game. The sights and sounds at the ballpark that day will reflect the ballpark experience from a century ago, including music, graphics and even elements of the game broadcast. Leading up to the afternoon’s pregame ceremony, historic photos and video tributes to Wrigley Field will play on the right field video board. Greeters wearing clothing modeled from a century ago will welcome fans to the park while grounds crew members work on the field wearing Weeghman Park jackets from the same era. After both starting lineups are announced, members of the Northwestern University marching band will take the field as was customary for Opening Day and other special events during the ballpark’s first two decades. In fact, Wrigley Field was the site of the National Football League’s first marching band halftime show Oct. 17, 1926, when Jack Bramhall’s band played during a Chicago Bears home game.
The live music will then give way to an extended pregame ceremony welcoming Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and a lineage of Wrigley Field’s most important icons back to the cherished ballpark. Past owners will be recognized near home plate, as the Ricketts family will be joined by descendants of both the Weeghman and Wrigley families and representatives of the Tribune Company. The Chicago Bears, who played 50 seasons at Wrigley Field from 1921 to 1970, will be honored next, as members of the McCaskey family will be joined on field by Bears/University of Illinois legend Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers. Sayers will also be honored with a bobblehead at Wrigley Field July 11.
Wrigley Field is beloved by many Cubs legends and Hall of Famers, and many of these greats will return to their former positions on the field for this special occasion. Ernie Banks (SS), Glenn Beckert (2B), Andre Dawson (RF), Ryan Dempster (P), Bobby Dernier (CF), Randy Hundley (C), Fergie Jenkins (P), Gary Matthews (LF), Milt Pappas (P), Lee Smith (P), Billy Williams (LF), Kerry Wood (P) and Sam and Spencer Brown (grandchildren of Ron Santo, 3B) are scheduled to take part in an "Alumni Take the Field" presentation before the ceremonial first pitch.
Sue Quigg, grandniece of former Cubs owner Charles Weeghman, will throw the game’s ceremonial first pitch using the 100-year-old ball her grandmother Dessa Weeghman threw at a Chi-Feds game a century ago. Wrigley Field staple Wayne Messmer will sing the National Anthem, concluded by a historic bi-plane flyover.
The tributes to Wrigley Field will continue throughout the day. Fans will have a chance to sing "Happy Birthday" to the venerable ballpark led by Gary Pressy on the organ in the fifth inning. The crowd can then join Dutchie Caray, wife of the late Cubs broadcast legend Harry Caray, and many of the day’s special guests as they lead the seventh-inning stretch from the field.
Sounds like fun, actually. The advance weather forecast calls for temps in the upper 50s, not bad for late April. You probably won't be surprised to hear that the Cubs say tickets are still available (and priced right, at "gold" level). The Chi-Feds won that inaugural game 9-1. It would be nice if the Cubs could do the same next Wednesday.