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Wrigley Field Scoreboard Inventor Dies

The scoreboard has been an iconic feature of the ballpark at Clark and Addison for 75 years.

The Wrigley Field scoreboard on June 22, 1953.
The Wrigley Field scoreboard on June 22, 1953.

I missed this a week ago and you probably did, too, unless you read more deeply into the Chicago Tribune obituary of Curtis Hubertz:

Two years ago, Curtis M. Hubertz, then 93, made the drive from his southern Wisconsin home to Wrigley Field.

The Chicago native wasn't going to see a game, Instead, he was delivering some parts for the ballpark's famous scoreboard, which his family's electronics company had installed in the 1930s.

"After cleaning out his garage, he came across a big box filled with spare parts for the scoreboard," said his daughter Judy Kompare. "He got in his car and drove to the park. He wanted them to have those parts."

Hubertz had those parts because he and his father had been commissioned by P.K. Wrigley to design the now-famous (and landmarked) scoreboard in 1937:

"They brought it to the ballpark to be tested one day," said close friend Bud Newton, a dentist and former tour guide at Wrigley Field. "When the game ended, Mr. (Phil) Wrigley motioned them over to his box and asked if they could make the letters and numbers bigger — from 36 inches high to 48 inches — and also add a few extra digits to make it easier for people to understand.

"They made the changes, and the rest is history."

After Hubertz Electronics closed in the 196Os, Mr. Hubertz continued to service the scoreboard, which now has landmark status

"Whenever there was a glitch in the system, one of the first people they'd call was Curt," Newton said. "He'd get over to the park and have that scoreboard working just fine in no time."

The scoreboard is one of the most iconic features of Wrigley Field, and the "eyelets" -- they're not lights -- that show batter, ball, strike, out, hit and error, still work flawlessly, 75 years after they were installed, still operated by grounds crew member Rick Fuhs from a perch in the press box.

I thought Hubertz' life and contributions to the Cubs were worth remembering. (Incidentally, this is the game shown on the board in the photo at the top of this post.)