Chicago, Tuesday, April 3, 2012. For the first time, perhaps ever, or at least since 1937, Chicago Cubs fans will be greeted by a wall of green this Thursday on Cubs opening day. The ivy on Wrigley Field’s outfield wall is in full bloom. Or, the ivy has leafed out, as horticulturalists like to say. I, for one, see this as a positive sign.
The idea to plant ivy on the outfield wall of Wrigley sprouted back in 1937 when Bill Veeck, whose father was the president of the Cubs at the time and who later created such promotions as 10-cent beer night and Disco Demolition Night, proposed the plan to plant the ivy to Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley. Wrigley who was putting together a beautification plan for the park at that time, in conjunction with his newly rebuilt outfield bleachers, jumped at the idea and the rest is history. To this day, Wrigley Field is in a league of its own when it comes to its ivy covered walls–it is the only professional ballpark in America with this backdrop.
Normally the first weeks of the baseball season fans only see a dark brick wall with snaking rope-like vines climbing the bricks. Some seasons, it is mid-May before the green appears. The early green this year signals that something big is in store for this season. The way I see it is, green (as in green light) means GO–in other words GO CUBS GO! The green ivy is the GO LIGHT for the season which can mean only one thing–a GO AHEAD year for the Chicago Cubs.
Long before Billy Sianis brought his billy goat to the 1945 World Series game against the Detroit Tigers and was turned away because the of the goat’s bad odor–starting the goat curse–the Wrigley Field ivy had taken root.
The 350 Japanese bittersweet plants and 200 Boston ivy plants originally planted three-quarters of a century ago–symbols of hardiness and longevity (and believed to prevent intoxication)–are our secret weapon, our curse-buster. And with Theo Epstein at the helm–a World Series–inside the “walls of ivy” may just be in the offing.