100th Anniversary of Wrigley Field Celebrated

Howard Goldin

With a five run ninth inning, the Kansas City Packers defeated the Chicago Whales, 7-5, at Wrigley Field on Wednesday afternoon, April 23. Who? The names don’t sound familiar. It was not a Little League game, not a minor league game, not even a soccer game. It was a regular season National League contest.

The Chicago Cubs were wearing the uniform logos of the Chicago Whales and the ArizonaDiamonbacks were wearing the logos of the Packers on their jerseys. Why were the two major league teams wearing disguises on Wednesday? These two teams, whose retro uniforms were being worn, were members of the Federal League, a league created to be a third major league in 1914 and competitor to the American and National Leagues.

Its first games were played with high hopes of future success, but the league folded in two years.

What is today called Wrigley Field was originally named Weeghman Field in honor of the owner of the Chicago team in the Federal League.When the Federal League folded, Charles Weeghman took control of the Cubs and moved them into his ballpark for the 1916 season. William Wrigley, whose name the ballpark now carries was not the owner of the Cubs until 1919 but the stadium was not renamed Wrigley Field until 1926.

Sue Quigg, the grand-niece of Weeghman threw out the ceremonial first pitch and along with Banks, Butkus, and Williams, led the crowd in the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, which is performed in the middle of the seventh inning during every game played in the park. 

A crowd of 32,323 attended the anniversary celebration, cheered its heroes of the past and rooted for the home club. Fortunately, thanks to it being telecast by WGN America, baseball fans throughout the nation were able to view the salute to the iconic stadium on it centennial.

The opening ceremony allowed Chicagoans to relive the glory days of their sports history. Chicago Bears’ greats like Dick Butkis and Gale Sayers were again on the field of their football heroics.

The Cubs, which brought no world championship to the city, have brought the fans many great moments and many heroes. The fans had the opportunity to welcome back several members of the Baseball Hall of Fame “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ferguson Jenkins.

Many memories of the ivy covered walls, the scoreboard run manually, the day games played when night games became the standard and the events played “in the friendly confines” of the historic ballpark were recalled by fans in the stadium and those watching on TV.