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Here’s a sport you’d never expect to see at Wrigley Field... rodeo

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Another look into the ballpark’s past.

Besides baseball, Wrigley Field has hosted a number of other team sports, including football (both college and NFL) and hockey. Once life returns to some semblance of “normal,” it’s expected the ballpark will host some Northwestern University football games going forward.

The photo at the top of this post shows the ballpark hosting something you wouldn’t have expected... rodeo. These events went on at Wrigley from the early 1940s through 1951. Here’s photos of the program from 1944, which says it’s the “fourth annual” rodeo:

It’s not clear which year the photo at the top of this post shows, but given the cars shown in the photo, it’s likely toward the earlier part of that time frame.

The Tribune of June 16, 1946 noted that “Wednesday through Sunday” — that matches the photo, for whatever that’s worth — the ballpark would host rodeo stars:

Wrigley Field will be the scene of a $50,000 Rodeo and Thrill Circus for a five-day and night run Wednesday thru next Sunday. Performances will be held daily at 3 and 8 p.m with special lights installed for the night shows.

More than 900 cowboys and cowgirls will compete in the major rodeo contest of bronc-riding, bulldogging, calf roping, wild cow milking, and wild Brahma bull riding events, sponsored by the Rodeo Association of America.

Interspersed in the rodeo contests will be a series of circus acts — Hollywood daredevils, a tribe of Sioux Indians, trick and fancy rope spinning, steeplechase jumping horses, and 16 of America’s greatest trick and fancy riders.

Well. That’s probably not a show you could put on in 2020, but we’re talking about something 70-plus years ago. Also, $50,000 in 1946 is worth, per this inflation calculator, about $664,000 today.

Here’s an ad placed in the Tribune (year unknown) showing what was scheduled for a Wrigley rodeo:

At one point, according to a 1951 column by Arch Ward in the Tribune, a Brahma bull named “Big Sid” plowed up Wrigley’s turf during a “rainswept rodeo” some years earlier. This photo, dated 1951 has scenes from a Wrigley rodeo/circus, with elephants!

Such a familiar scene... and then again, not.