All you need to know about Wrigley Field

November 23rd, 2020

CHICAGO -- Wrigley Field is tucked away on the North Side of Chicago, occupying a city block amidst homes and businesses and a short walk from the rumblings of the elevated train. It can sneak up on passersby, depending on which street they are walking.

The old ballpark has stood for more than one hundred years and now has officially been designated as a National Historic Landmark for its role in Chicago history, along with American culture and sports. It's famous for its large red marquee, ivy-covered walls and bleacher traditions.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Cubs' longtime home.

When was Wrigley Field built?
The ballpark opened in 1914, making it baseball's second-oldest active stadium, behind Boston's Fenway Park. The estimated cost of building the ballpark on the North Side was around $250,000.

When did the Cubs begin playing at the ballpark?
The stadium was originally constructed as the home of Chicago's Federal League team, which was known as both the Federals and the Whales. After the Federal League folded, the Cubs moved into the ballpark beginning with the 1916 season.

Was it always called Wrigley Field?
No. The ballpark was originally known as Weeghman Park after team owner Charles Weeghman, who leased the land and built the stadium. It was Weeghman who was part of a group of 10 that later purchased the Cubs ballclub in 1916 and moved them to his ballpark. Weeghman resigned in December of 1918, and the ballpark became known as Cubs Park for a period of time. Wrigley Field became its new name in 1926, due to William Wrigley Jr. acquiring ownership of the land and the bulk share of the team's stock.

When was the ivy on the outfield walls added?
A myth that has stood the test of time is that Hall of Fame baseball owner and promoter Bill Veeck planted the ivy while working for the Cubs during the 1937 season. According to Cubs historian Ed Hartig, the ivy was planted by the Clavey family -- a second- and third-generation family of horticulturalists who had taken care of Wrigley's properties in Illinois and Wisconsin for many years. The Boston ivy was mixed with Japanese bittersweet vines to help expedite the growing process. It gave Wrigley Field a unique, artistic look that remains a beloved element of the ballpark to this day.

When did the Cubs install their manual scoreboard?
The scoreboard that looms behind the center-field bleacher seats was constructed in 1937 -- the same year the ivy was planted. The original board, which remains intact, was part of an expansion project for the outfield area and seating.

When were the lights installed?
The Cubs became the final team to install lights in their ballpark when they did so in 1988. The first night game was held on Aug. 8 that year against the Phillies, though the game was rained out in the fourth inning. So, the first official night game took place one day later on Aug. 9, when the Cubs beat the Mets, 6-4.

When was the marquee put in?
The famous marquee at the corner of Clark and Addison was added to the ballpark in 1934. It was originally fern green with gold trim. Per Hartig, there are photos that show the marquee as a darker blue, but those have been proven to be the result of old exposed film. The sign first took on its now-famous red look in the mid-1960s.

Have any other teams called Wrigley Field home?
Besides the Cubs and Chicago's Federal League team early in the stadium's history, the Chicago Bears NFL team called Wrigley Field home from 1921-70. The NFL's Chicago Cardinals also played home games at the stadium from 1931-38. The DePaul University football team played home games at Wrigley Field in the 1930s. The Chicago Sting (1975-84) of the North American Soccer League played some of their home games there, too. The ballpark has also hosted college football games, an NHL game and soccer for special events at various points.

Which players have their numbers retired by the Cubs?
Ernie Banks (14), Ron Santo (10) and Fergie Jenkins (31) have their numbers retired and honored with flags flying atop the left-field foul pole. Ryne Sandberg (23), Billy Williams (26) and Greg Maddux (31) have theirs retired and flying atop the right-field pole. Jackie Robinson's No. 42 -- retired across baseball -- is also on a flag that flies at Wrigley Field.