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Wrigley Field — the most human park in baseball — turns 100-years-old

Apr 23, 2014, 10:48 AM EDT

Wrigley Field

Happy birthday, Wrigley Field! Or as it was known when it opened on this date in 1914, Weeghman Park, home to the Chicago Whales of the Federal League. Today it hosts the Cubs and Diamondbacks, who may be better than the Chicago Whales, but that’s not saying much given that all of the Whales players would be, like, 130-years-old today. If you think the Dbacks are gritty . . .

Anyway, there shall be a grand celebration. There is a 400-pound cake. Bud Selig will be there. The crowd will likely sing to the ballpark and 100 years of memories — most of them sad or dubious in terms of baseball greatness — will be shared.

It’s the dubiousness of those memories which give some Cubs fans mixed feelings. Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo is one of them. Today he expresses the ambivalence many Cubs fans have about a park with zero in the way of championship history to celebrate. A park which has defined the organization far more than any one of the teams it has hosted has. Which makes all of this weird. Parks tend to be remembered for what has happened within their walls, not simply because the walls haven’t fallen down after all of this time.

Still, there’s no denying that Wrigley is worth celebrating. As I said when I visited Wrigley last year, it’s hard to say anything about Wrigley Field that hasn’t already been said. And that almost everything that has been said about it, no matter how superficially contradictory, is pretty much true. It is charming. It is a dump. It is a great place to watch baseball. It contains a whole hell of a lot of people not watching baseball. I can’t think of a park which has the whole of baseball experiences in it, both bad and good, like Wrigley Field does.

RELATED: Photos of Wrigley through the years

Lately we’ve been talking a lot about its renovation. It’s decaying in many ways and has to get that renovation. It’s not some Field of Dreams-style jewel that must be preserved lest baseball lose its very soul, but if it doesn’t get carefully preserved, baseball will certainly lose something. The essence of the place is right. The Cubs may not have given their fans a championship since moving in, but they have done a great job of presenting a nicely unadorned baseball game in an urban setting. Some teams, like the Braves, are leaving urban areas because they think it’s too much hassle or that they can’t make enough money there. Most other teams are sticking in or returning to urban areas, but have totally forgotten the part about the games being best when unadorned. In Wrigley there are a lot of post-college drunkards and party people, but there’s also a nice ratio of sunshine and baseball and organ music to nonsense on the scoreboard and over the P.A. system. There is so much value in that.

Wrigley is more like a person than anything else. A person you have to admire and love. It’s old, it’s not in as good a shape as it could be and it hasn’t witnessed nearly as many accomplishments in its life as it hoped to when it was young. But if anything, it’s easier to love that kind of person than that old guy who has aced life, is richer than Croesus and looks 25 years younger than he actually is. Far more of us are like Wrigley Field than Fenway Park.

So happy birthday, Wrigley Field. You got a lot of mileage on you and your life has been defined by missed opportunities more than goals achieved, but in this you’re like a lot of us. Here’s hoping we’ve all seen as much as you when we get — if we get — to your age.

  1. brandotho - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    If you are a baseball fan, there are two parks you have to go to before you die. Fenway and Wrigley. Would have been also been the old Yankee Stadium but you know…….

    • renaado - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      Yankees truly made the wrong decision there abandon the old Yankee stadium there.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:16 PM

        There i$ a $imple rea$on that the Yankee$ decided to build a new $tadium. I’ll give you three gue$$e$ but you $hould only need one.

      • raysfan1 - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        I’m not $ure, COPO, can you give u$ another hint?

      • renaado - Apr 23, 2014 at 6:37 PM

        Judging from your statements here where you make the letter s for a dollar, I’m pretty sure the Yankees done this is because of the money, money, money it’s all about the money, money, money.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 23, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      Tiger Stadium was terrific. I’m glad I got to see it.

      • pauleee - Apr 23, 2014 at 6:13 PM

        Went to a game at both Tiger Stadium and Wrigley Field on a great cross-country vacation in 1989. Kept score at both games, recently discovered that a little-known pitcher named Greg Maddux pitched and won for the Cubs.

  2. renaado - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    Truly congratulations to all of you Cubs fan for 100 yrs of established history there in Wrigley Field. Is there any news of Steve Bartman attending the game there? Certainly this is a moment he truly can’t miss, I’m pretty sure what happened back there in the past is long gone by now.

  3. thedoubleentandres - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Well now, if Wrigley Field is 100 years old and the most human park in baseball…I don’t think it would like people playing on its lawn.

    • zzalapski - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      At least its plumbing is still functional, as far as we know. Oakland Coliseum wishes it could age as gracefully.

      • perryt200 - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        I am not so sure. Seems like all the crap just shows up on the field….

  4. yankeesfanlen - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    Wrigley Field as a metaphor for Life? You’re getting a bit maudlin on us Craig.Such sentiments should be saved for Tiger Stadium.
    Used to frequent the place 20 years ago for a couple of Old Styles on a rare, warm Chicago afternoon. And baseball would kinda break out if you were looking the right way.

  5. moogro - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Maybe Cubs is too cute and wimpy of a name to win. Maybe change to something like The Scalpers? You could put a picture of a Native American on the logo.

    • dylanthom2013 - Apr 24, 2014 at 2:13 AM

      Or maybe they should use a white person as the logo. Maybe change the name to something like “obesepieceofdog_hit”, “tinycoc_”, or “diseasecarrier”.

  6. wastedpilgrim - Apr 23, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Nice work. Fair. Maudlin, but only to the extent it needs to be. An ode to the terminally charming home of the Cubs.

  7. happytwinsfan - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    when i try to summon an anthropomorphic image of the old metro dome, i get an image of a retired dentist in a leisure suit. i do miss it so.

  8. deep64blue - Apr 23, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    It is a great place to watch baseball.

    Sorry Craig have to disagree with you there, it’s a great place to watch on TV but it’s an awful park to be at – cramped, poor facilities, horrendous bathrooms etc etc.

  9. nfieldr - Apr 23, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    There is no way you can compare the “urban” settings of Turner Field with Wrigley. One is in a neighborhood. The other is surrounded by parking lots, a freeway, and slums.

  10. 1harrypairatesties - Apr 23, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    I been to at least 75-100 games & I can tell you Wrigley is an awesome place to watch baseball from wherever you are sitting. It’s a small ballpark & you are close to the field. Great views, cold beer, & hot women. What else could you ask for? Well, maybe a World Series Championship… Someday. Happy 100th Wrigley!

    • 18thstreet - Apr 23, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      As someone who has been to one game there, I loved it. I couldn’t believe how good my seats were (for $40 or so). It’s terrific.

  11. dexterismyhero - Apr 23, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    And they are even winning today!!!!!

  12. dodger88 - Apr 23, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    “To me there’s always been something special about Wrigley Field. I refer to the ballpark as the dowager queen of the National League. I refer to the lights as a lady in black in evening, wearing pearls. Every time I come to this ballpark, I seem to feel and see another image, and, above all, the enthusiasm of the crowd. It’s just a very special place.” -Vin Scully (1989)

  13. freddsox - Apr 23, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    Cubs losing in true 100 year form today. You just don’t see the pulled hammy triple in the 9th anywhere else. The ghost of the goat must be especially angry today

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