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A Day In Wrigley Field History: April 23, 1914

This post begins BCB's offseason series. Like last year's, it will go year-by-year, but instead of a game per year, it'll be one day at Wrigley Field each year, and at times, events other than Cubs games.

DN-0059404, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.

Of course, what we now know as Wrigley Field wasn't called that in 1914, nor were the Chicago Cubs the home team. Weeghman Park was hastily constructed in early 1914 for the Chicago Whales (also known as the "ChiFeds") of the Federal League, a new league and team intended to compete with the existing Cubs and White Sox.

The ChiFeds began 1914 on the road, and not well; after a 2-5 road trip to Kansas City and St. Louis they returned to Chicago to debut in their brand-new ball yard at the corner of Clark & Addison Streets.

The Tribune, in an article written by "Handy Andy" (not making that up, it really did appear that way in the paper), wrote about the first ChiFeds game this way:

White Sox fans have had their opening; Cub rooters had their chance yesterday. At 3 o'clock this afternoon the populace of the north side will welcome home Joe Tinker and his Chicago Federal leaguers. A new ball park, up to date in every particular, a new team, and a new league are ready for the first inspection of local fandom.

Elaborate plans have been framed for the initial combat at the Addison and Clark streets plant. Organized rooting will be conducted by two associations, the "Bravo el Toro Club" of the North side and the Charley Williams Booster Club of the West side. The "Bull Club" will put on a parade through the streets of the North side early in the afternoon. A band will lead the procession from Halsted and Grace streets to the park.

Prior to the start of the contest the Bravo club will stage a bull fight on the field, provided a cow sufficiently meek and a "toreador" can be found.

Now that's entertainment!

Yes, there was a game, too, and the Tribune's Sam Weller (I trust that's a real name) provided the recap:

Chicago took the Federal league to its bosom yesterday and claimed it as a mother would claim a long lost child. With more frills and enthusiasm than ever prevailed at a baseball opening here Joe Tinker and his Chifeds made their debut before a throng of fans that filled the north side park to capacity, and the Chicago boys trounced George Stovall's Kansas City team, 9 to 1. All Chicago cheered and the north side was maddened with delight.

It may not have been the biggest crowd that ever saw an opening game in Chicago, but conservative estimators placed the attendance at about 21,000. The new park is said to have a seating capacity of 18,000. If that is true there were 21,000 fans in the grounds yesterday, because every seat in the place was taken, a great many were standing up in the back of the grandstand, and more than 2,000 were on the field in the circus seats placed for the occasion.

And, in something that would portend the future, Weller added:

The windows and roofs of flat buildings across the way from the park were crowded with spectators.

The 18,000 capacity was about right; the park, as constructed in 1914, had no upper deck. That wasn't added until 1927. Otherwise the curve of the Addison Street side of the ballpark looks remarkably the same, almost 100 years later -- without the horses riding down the street, though.

After their slow start, the ChiFeds went a combined 36-23 in June and July and were in first place with three games to go. Losing two of those three to Kansas City -- a mediocre team that finished 20 games out of first place -- they finished second.