One Hundred stories from the last century that salute the legacy of Wrigley Field and its beloved Cubs.
Charge through the turnstiles of this collection of personal stories about baseball's greatest ballpark and the sacred space it occupies in the hearts of Cubs fans and the soul of Wrigleyville. With contributors like Bob Costas, Rick Sutcliffe and Steve Stone, these 100 stories reflect the variety of millions of Cubs fans around the world, from those whose relationship with the Friendly Confines has lasted a lifetime to those who are taking their seats up close to the ivy for the very first time.
About the Author
Dan Campana is a freelance writer and communications consultant in the Chicago suburbs. His son, Ryne, is named after Dan's favorite Cub, Ryne Sandberg. Rob Carroll is a writer and newspaper editor originally from central Illinois, who now lives in Rockford with his dog Benny and a closet full of baseball cards and Cubs memorabilia. Dan Roan is WGN-TV's Sports Director. Kerry Wood was a Chicago Cubs pitcher from 1998 to 2008 and also from 2011 to 2012.
Read an Excerpt
DAN ROAN, WGN-TV SPORTS DIRECTOR
I grew up a Cubs fan in Iowa, crying from afar over the collapse of 1969, lamenting the "College of Coaches" experiment before that and wondering then — as now — when the law of averages might finally kick in for these guys. Living at a distance from Chicago, I had no exposure to Wrigley Field as a kid. But I would make up for lost time.
One of my early experiences at Wrigley centered on a hard Friday night of partying, post-college, in Chicago's western suburbs. Ten of us were going to the game on Saturday afternoon, but having only a vague concept of time that morning, I showed up at the ballpark at 8:00 a.m. Owning some status as a downstate broadcaster, I wangled a press pass and spent a couple hours exploring the confines. Eventually, I sat down in the Cubs dugout, where the morning sun and the short night got the best of me. I dozed off, only to be awakened by a sharp pain in my right side. It was Bill Buckner, sticking the money end of his bat into my ribcage and telling me to get the hell out of the dugout.
Today, having covered the Cubs for over three decades for WGN-TV, Wrigley Field and I are old buddies. I was there in '84 for the first postseason games in thirty-nine years, I watched as the lights went on in '88 and I suffered through the dead years of the '90s and suffered even more in 2003. But it was the times in between that made me really appreciate the Wrigley experience.
I remember sitting in the booth with Harry Caray and Steve Stone one warm summer evening — it must have been 1991 or 1992. The baseball was not good, but the ambience was from another world — the golden cast of the setting sun, the grass and the ivy a brilliant green, a magnificent sky, Lake Michigan in the distance and a full house buzzing with anticipation of what might happen. All that right in front of me, accompanied by the Harry-and-Steve soundtrack. It really could not have been a more intoxicating moment. For me, and for millions of others, it happens time and again, summer after summer.
There's little question that Wrigley Field is as big a draw as its tenants, probably much more so. The ballpark offers hope even when the Cubs do not — how can something good not happen in a place this beautiful? Wrigley is absolutely responsible for the unfailing optimism that the Cubs have enjoyed, even thrived upon, from their massive fan base.
Now Wrigley Field is turning one hundred years old, and it's showing its age. The current owners, the Ricketts family, are fighting a political battle to implement a restoration plan. The mock-ups are encouraging, adding amenities to enhance the enjoyment of the fans while keeping the character of the ballpark mostly intact.
I truly hope it all works out and we are all able to enjoy Wrigley Field for many years to come. It's a magical place and one of the great contradictions in sports — a ballpark that's held more heartbreak than any other in America but one that continues to beguile, fascinate and beckon ... even when Bill Buckner's jabbing you with a Louisville Slugger.CHAPTER 2
MY WRIGLEY MOMENT
KERRY WOOD, CHICAGO CUBS PITCHER, 1998–2008, 2011–12
There are many moments that make my time at Wrigley Field special — too many to list. Every summer, fans get to experience Wrigley Field for the first time. They get to see the ivy, hear the organ play, sing along with "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and even see their first "W" flag being raised. I had a different experience — something that not many get to do. I was able to experience Wrigley Field from the center of it all — on the mound.
I will never forget my first game at Wrigley; I could barely breathe. There were more than thirty-five thousand fans that day, all of them fired up for baseball. And they already knew who I was — just a young kid from Texas. The fans supported me from my first game all the way to my last. Many will think that my favorite game would be back in 1998 when I struck out twenty batters, the different times we clinched playoff titles or even when we were only a few outs from finally reaching the World Series. For me, my most special moment at Wrigley was my last. Those same fans who supported me when I was only twenty years old were there, still with me more than fifteen seasons later.
My last day was something I will never forget. I brought my son, Justin, with me. We spent the morning of May 18, 2012, at the ballpark, watching the flags blowing out, sitting in the bleachers, touring the scoreboard, shagging balls in the outfield — it was the perfect start to this day. I savored every moment warming up in the bullpen. I walked out to the mound for the last time. I knew it, and the fans knew it, too. This was the last time. I gave all I could to that last hitter. I wanted to end the way I started: with a strikeout and on my own terms. I knew that was all I had left. I wanted it to be in front of the fans that had given all that they had. Now it was my time to give all I had to them, to myself and to my son, who watched from the dugout.
After that last appearance, I will never forget the respect I received from the White Sox players in the other dugout, the fans and my teammates. Walking off the field, waving to them and then having Justin run out to me — it was the best moment of my career. It was special. Not many players are able to leave on their own terms, and I was able to. I will never forget it. Wrigley Field will always be my second home. I'm excited to experience more memories there, hopefully someday a championship for the most deserving fans in all of sports. Wrigley Field ... there's no place quite like it.CHAPTER 3
WRIGLEY FIELD'S STORY
If Wrigley Field had eyes, it might look upon itself with wonder as it turns one hundred years old.
If Wrigley could hear, the sounds of baseball would resonate and build into one collective roar of voices.
If it had the ability to speak, the Friendly Confines would most certainly draw an audience to listen to endless tales of Ruth and Mays, Banks and Santo, Butkus and Ditka, Sandberg and Dawson, Kane and Toews and McCartney and Springsteen.
Baseball's second-oldest ballpark can't see, hear or speak for itself, so it relies on its friends, visitors and neighbors to weave together a history that began quite modestly a century ago and continues today in a world far removed from the park's humble beginnings.
Wrigley Field did not begin its life with its famous name. The team that calls the park its home, the Chicago Cubs, was not its first baseball occupant either. Wrigley's birth in 1914 came as Weeghman Park on the site of a former seminary. Construction lasted all of five weeks — less time than it takes to write a book about the park's history — for $250,000, roughly half of a Major League ballplayer's minimum salary in 2013.
Weeghman served as home to the Federal League's Chicago teams, first the Federals and then the Whales. Within two years, the Federal League folded and owner Charles Weeghman purchased the Cubs. National League baseball debuted in 1916 with a Cubs win over Cincinnati on April 20.
The Wrigley family, known for its chewing-gum empire, bought the team in 1920 and fittingly renamed the park Cubs Park. It remained that way until 1926, when it was dubbed Wrigley Field in honor of William Wrigley Jr.
In 1937, some of the park's most uniquely famous features first appeared: the bleachers, the ivy and the hand-operated scoreboard. The iconic scoreboard still features inning-by-inning line scores of twelve games around the majors, although baseball's expansion in the 1990s meant not every game could appear on the board. Three flagpoles atop the scoreboard reflect the current standings of the National League's three divisions.
Perhaps the scoreboard's most famous role is the raising of a flag to signify the result of the day's game — a blue "W" for a win or a white "L" for a loss. The tradition started as a way of alerting passengers at the nearby Addison train platform of whether the Cubs had won or lost.
The outfield wall sits eleven and a half feet tall with a basket extending from it. The basket was added in 1970 as a crowd-control measure during the heyday of the Bleacher Bums but is more well known for its ability to catch balls with barely enough home run distance.
With the Cubs as its main occupant, Wrigley also played host to Chicago Bears home games for half a century through 1970. The football field ran from the first-base line to the left-field bleachers, with temporary seating for fans positioned in right and center field.
Wrigley's history was forever changed in 1988 when, after a prolonged debate, the park became the last in baseball to add lights. The planned debut of night baseball at Wrigley on August 8, 1988, was short-lived as Mother Nature stepped in and forced the postponement of the game against Philadelphia. One night later, the Cubs beat the rival Mets in the first official night game.
In the twenty-five years since electricity lit up Wrigley for night games, several renovations of varying sizes have taken place. Private suites, a new press box and bleacher expansion brought the most visually striking changes to the park's look. Players would probably point to the leveling of the playing field among the significant alterations affecting game play, along with modifications to seating configurations behind home plate and near the on-field bullpens. A sizable video board, the park's largest, above the right-field wall was added prior to the 2012 season.
Wrigley welcomed concerts for the first time in 2005 when Jimmy Buffet packed Parrot Heads into the park. Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Billy Joel, Dave Matthews and the legendary Paul McCartney have all graced Wrigley's outfield for shows in recent years. Pearl Jam provided yet another unique concert experience in July 2013 when its show was delayed for two-plus hours and ended well after the neighborhood curfew.
Although minor league and prep baseball games and professional soccer, as well as the return of football in 2010 for a Big Ten battle between Northwestern and Illinois, have taken the field at Wrigley over the years, the park had never been as transformed as it was for the 2009 Winter Classic hockey game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.
The winds of change blow strongly heading into Wrigley's 100 year, as the park sits on the verge of a massive renovation destined to cost ownership hundreds of millions of dollars. Video screens will be perched behind the bleachers, while team and player facilities are due for what many say are long-overdue makeovers. The Wrigleyville neighborhood, which has grown into a destination all its own, also expects to see changes as the Cubs renovate property along Clark Street long used as parking lots.
While the 2013 season ranks as unremarkable on the field, it bears significance as perhaps the last played in the Wrigley Field known to so many through photos, TV and their own memories of the Friendly Confines. No matter how the park changes physically, its spirit and air of history will remain unaltered in the minds of those who know it best.CHAPTER 4
THERE'S NO ME WITHOUT WRIGLEY
If not for Wrigley Field, you wouldn't be holding this book. "Of course," is what you're thinking, but it's not for the obvious reason.
My parents met in Wrigley's famed bleachers in the 1970s as Catholic high schoolers, one of the countless number of relationships started inside the Friendly Confines. Friends and a common interest in the Cubs certainly helped put them in the right place at the right time, but it didn't hurt that my late grandfather, Bernard Campana, worked as a high-ranking security official at Wrigley for years. His role gave my dad the only excuse he needed to be at the park so often.
My other grandfather, Michael Benker, spent his time on the fan side of Wrigley's brick walls for Bears and Cubs games for many years. In the process, he and my grandmother Virginia raised seven children. Each of them can cite some Cubs memory from their youth. Several of my aunts and uncles have, in turn, raised their own kids with the Cubs and Wrigley.
Now in my mid-thirties, my Wrigley stories cover many sunburns, batting-practice baseballs, big crowds, pathetic crowds, hangover- inducing afternoons and, amazingly, seeing the Cubs clinch a spot in the playoffs twice. Each and every one of those experiences was made memorable because of the family or friends who shared the day or night with me.
Still, nothing can top September 18, 2008, when I got to introduce my son, Ryne, to Wrigley with my wife and my dad right there with us. On the verge of winning — GASP! — their second consecutive division title, the Cubs played flat all afternoon. Ryne, not quite four years old at the time, had seen enough Cubs games on TV to recognize a clunker when he saw one. In person, though, it had to be a bummer for him. That all changed in a heartbeat.
With two on in the bottom of the ninth, Geovany Soto drove the first pitch he saw into the left-field bleachers to tie the game and shock the Brewers. Ryne had been sitting on my lap but immediately went skyward — safely, of course — with the instinctual jump that follows a no-doubter like Soto's shot. The Cubs finished things off with a walk-off win in extra innings, and we, as a family, hit for the cycle that day as the fourth generation of Campanas made his connection to Wrigley.
That's what Wrigley is all about. Its history is inherent to the world yet extremely personal to each fan. It's as familiar as a relative's house on Christmas Eve. It's a family reunion held eighty-one times each season. It welcomes you back year after year with the promise of a three-hour (or more) escape from reality every time you cross its threshold.
So much changes in our lives as time marches on that there isn't much you can count on for comfort — and, boy I've tried to cling on to some things at points in my life. Fortunately, family has always been a constant for me. In its own way, so has Wrigley.CHAPTER 5
CHECK YOUR TICKET
Finally, Kerry Wood was going to come back from the disabled list after missing all of the 1999 season and the beginning of the 2000 season. And my cousin Dave had an extra ticket to the midweek game against Houston.
It also was finals week at Western Illinois University, where I was about to take my last exam before the end of the year. I was confident I knew the material on the exam, which was for some broadcasting class I had cruised through most of the year. There was enough time to finish the test and make the drive back to central Illinois to meet Dave.
Of course, it wasn't that easy. The test took a little longer than expected, and on top of that, I was asked to pick up Dave's friend Paul. I finished the exam the best I could, made the two-hour drive to my hometown of Lacon to get Paul and then another half-hour drive to get to Dave's place in Marseilles.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly even as we got to Wrigley. We were pushing it to make it in time for the first pitch, but we were definitely going to make it before the end of the first inning. Dave waited in line at the will-call while we stood off to the side. He finally came back with an envelope of tickets, and we started to head inside. Before we could get to the gate, Dave noticed the tickets were for a game in late August, but it was early May. So back to the will-call he went. Less than five minutes later, he walked back toward us with another set of tickets. Somehow there had been a mix-up in the ticket office.
"I have no idea where these seats are at," Dave said shaking his head.
We headed inside and kept walking as we tried to find our section. At no time did any of the three of us pay attention to what row we were in. We found the section and then our seats, which were in the front row behind the Astros bullpen! Needless to say, the Cubs more than made up for the mistake by giving us way better seats than what we were expecting by seating us in the front row. That night I saw Kerry Wood return from the disabled list, have a nice outing against Houston and even hit a home run in his first at-bat back from being on the shelf.
Oh, and I passed my final exam and graduated later that month.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Wrigley Field"
Copyright © 2013 Dan Campana and Rob Carroll.
Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction Dan Roan 11
2 My Wrigley Moment Kerry Wood 14
3 Wrigley Field's Story 16
4 There's No Me without Wrigley Dan Campana 21
5 Check Your Ticket Rob Carroll 24
6 Boyhood Dreams Fulfilled at Wrigley Joe Girardi 26
7 A First Dance at Wrigley Cindy Morris 28
8 Wrigley the Kids' Playground Jeff Santo 30
9 The Sandberg Game Bob Costas 33
10 The "Jerk" with the Cellphone Glenn Schorsch 36
11 The Wrigleyville Firehouse Lieutenant John Sampson 39
12 Spiders, a Summons and a Squirrel in the Booth? Steve Stone 41
13 Coming Full Circle in Wrigleyville Billy Dec 44
14 Bringing Wrigley Home Jack Rosenberg 48
15 Unexpected Beginning, Historic Finish Mike Considine 50
16 Memorable Moments on the Mound Rick Sutcliffe 53
17 Beating the Streak at Wrigley Josh Pace 57
18 "I Hope They Don't Get Beat Up" Cliff Floyd 59
19 The Game Beyond the Walls Rich Buhrke 61
20 Magical Septembers Pat Hughes 63
21 Baseball Is Medicine, Wrigley Is Paradise-Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers 66
22 "I Hope I Don't Ever Pitch in This Ballpark" Ferguson Jenkins 68
23 Best Friend's Wedding versus Cubs Clincher Mike Meade 71
24 Historic Home Run Madness Dave Levenson 73
25 The Pedicab Magic Matt Furlin 75
26 Once a Cub, Always a Cub Jim Riggleman 77
27 Wrigley from Afar Peter Wilhelmsson 79
28 Wrestling and Wrigley and Morganna, Too Colt Cabana 81
29 Up Close with the Monsters of the Midway Ron Nelson 83
30 An Unexpected Call to the Mound Brian Corbin 85
31 A Rite of Passage Chet Coppock 86
32 Fifteen Years of Wrigley Visits But First Time Inside Bob Dameron 90
33 One Giant Leap: A Wrigley Field Ski Jump 92
34 A Family History Lesson Tim Kurkjian 93
35 Football Returns to Wrigley Nick Hayward 95
36 A Late Night with Pearl Jam Lou Saritangelo 98
37 Wrong Radio Station Leads to Night with McCartney Bob Schuman 100
38 Struggles of a Season Ticket Holder Marcia Colton 102
39 Helplessly, Hopelessly a Cubs Fan Mike Foster 105
40 The Trifecta Is a Family Tiling Clay Guida 107
41 Finding a Way on the Field without Getting Busted Mike Toomey 109
42 A Wrigley Curtain Call-Reed Johnson 111
43 Wind-Blown Wildness in a 23-22 Loss Steve Schee 113
44 The Blackhawks, Mae West and Two for Dutch Tom Boyle 115
45 Will You Marry Me? Teryn Frank 117
46 Playing Hooky Rick Morris 118
47 The Greatest Television Studio in the World Bob Vorwald 120
48 Annabelle's First Game Ryan Johns 123
49 A Five-Hundred-Foot Introduction Ryan Dempster 125
50 Anything Is Possible Dave Hoekstra 127
51 The Legend of Ivy Man Ward Tannhauser 129
52/53 Father-and-Son Fans for Life Willie Patrick Yarbrough 132
54/55 For Better or Worse Michelle Steve Cucchiaro 135
56 A Big Kid in a Candy Store James Jordan 139
57 Win One for Dad Kimber Fitz-Richard 140
58 At Home for the Seventh-Inning Stretch Dennis Gutierrez 141
59 Opening Day Is a Holiday Trish Berry 142
60 Wrigley Field as Arc Paul Ashack 144
61 Wrigley "Ruined" by Winter Classic (In a Good Way) Eric Brechtel 147
62 Me and Willie McGee Matt Junker 148
63 Not an Ordinary Internship Christine Coleman 150
64 Cub Fan, Policeman Jim McGovern 153
65 Catching "The Boss" in the Backyard David Stone 156
66 Bleachers Are Nice, But I'll Stay in the Infield Larry Bowa 157
67 And Then the Game Started John Hanson 160
68 A Memorable First Impression Mitch Williams 163
69 A Big Ball of Wonderful Tina Rossini 165
70 A Different Family Tradition Tony Taylor 168
71 Growing Up with the Cubs Sue Jacobi 170
72 First in Line for Opening Day Stacey James 172
73 Getting the Chills at Wrigley Michael Whiting 173
74 It Sounded Like a Strike Katherine 174
75 No Time to Sit Down John Radtke 176
76 Bar Scene Good; Drunks and Parking, Not So Much Jenny Vanse 177
77 A limited View of History Jim Sonnenbcrg 179
78 Reintroducing Hockey to Chicago Nick Ulivieri 181
79 Calling a Game, Telling Wrigley's Story Chip Caray 182
80 A Lifetime of Games, Just Not the Whole Game Joseph Brandl 185
81 Camping Out for Tickets Shelly Drazba 186
82 From Bulgaria to Wrigleyville Lily Boranova 187
83 Cubs Fan Camaraderie Carol Heneghan 188
84 Wrigley and Family Coming Together Again Mike DiMaio 189
85 Enjoyed First Visit to Enemy Territory J.B. Nelson 191
86 Gloveless Apprentice Matthew Gustin 192
87 Racing for a Spot Ralph Kitron 193
88 "Welcoming" Back Greg Maddux Debra Stanton 195
89 The Old Days with Great Names Bud Kleich 196
90 From the Right-Field Bleachers to Cooperstown Paul Johnson 198
91 What Will Mom Trunk? Eric Rittenhouse 201
92 Read All About It Matt Jozwiak 203
93 Sometimes the Action Happens on the Outside Chad Anderson 204
94 A Wrigley Field Time Warp Ricky Hedrick 206
95 Four for the Show Chris Barber 207
96 Don't Leave Wrigley Early Dan Plesac 209
97 Brotherly Bonding at Wrigley Bill Payne Kevin Reuter 211
98 Two Nights with "The Boss" Brad King 213
99 A Meeting with the Owner Jeremy Behling 215
100 Celebrating a Century at Wrigley Frank Marek 216
About the Authors 223