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A Day In Wrigley Field History: April 17, 1923

On this cold spring day, the ballpark we now know as Wrigley Field began to look closer to what it does today.

SDN-064435, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum

The ballpark at Clark and Addison Streets in Chicago, still not known as Wrigley Field -- that wouldn't come for another three years -- underwent extensive renovation during the winter of 1922-23. Frank Schreiber of the Tribune wrote of the details just before Opening Day:

The Cubs "new" park will be ready for the opening game of the season with Pittsburgh April 17, President William Veeck of the club announced yesterday. All construction work on the grandstands is complete and the installation of the seats and grooming of the field is all that remains.

The rebuilding work was started immediately after the close of the professional football season last fall. The big steel stand was cut at the office. The west section was swung back toward Clark street, the south section back to Addison avenue, and the two parts were then united. Box seats were built down to the field.

The old stands had a capacity of 16,775. The new park will seat between 31,000 and 32,000, the official count not yet having been taken. Work on checking up seats will start tomorrow. The new park is the largest single decker in the country.

As you can see from that description, the current position of the lower deck at Wrigley Field is different from its original location, and the writer refers to it as a "new" park. It was, to some extent, though at the same location. The "new" park had 9,300 box seats (5,500 in the old), 17,000 in the grandstand (11,000 previously) and 5,000 bleacher seats, compared to 2,500 in the old Cubs park.

The game, played in front of an estimated 33,500, wound up in a 3-2 loss to the Pirates. Schreiber wrote:

The Cubs showed a brand of baseball that was more like June play than the opening of the season, despite the fact that the mercury refused to ascend over the 40 mark, and the players were forced to parade around with their hands in their sweater pockets when not in action.

Bill McKechnie's Pittsburgh crew showed the fans just how and when to take advantage of openings which occur in the national pastime when they arose in the fourth inning and, grabbing two bases on balls, an error and a lone hit, won the battle.

The "lone hit" was a bases-clearing double by... Charlie Grimm, who would later play in two World Series for the Cubs (the second as player-manager) and manage the team to two other pennants. To this day Grimm's 14 years and 946 wins as Cubs manager rank second in franchise history to Cap Anson.

But on that cold April afternoon, the then-largest crowd in Cubs Park history watched a then-enemy Grimm defeat their local heroes.