4/20/16 – Chicago Cubs’ first game in Weeghman Park aka Wrigley Field

4/20/16 – Chicago Cubs’ first game in Weeghman Park aka Wrigley Field
The Chicago Cubs played their first game on the north side at then Weeghman Park on April 20, 1916

April 20th or 4/20 or simply 420 has gotten some mixed reviews in the past.  It has been referred to as one of the most infamous dates in history.  Adolph Hitler was born on April 20, 1889.  The Columbine High School Shooting took place on April 20, 1999 where 12 students and 1 teacher were murdered by two students who eventually took their own lives.   Let us also not forget about 4/20 being the unofficial “National Smoke Weed Day” which of course if you choose to celebrate just remembering anything at all would be a challenge.

Chicago has a much more positive reason to look at April 20 and more specifically April 20, 1916.  On this day the newly purchased National League team of the Chicago Cubs played its very first game in Weeghman Park on Chicago’s north side.  From 1920 to 1925 the park was renamed Cubs Park and from 1926 on it was and is known as Wrigley Field.

Weeghman Park was built by Charlie Weeghman in 1914 to host his Federal League team, The Chicago Federals.  The Federal League died after two years and Weeghman along with William Wrigley Jr. and other investors purchased the National League Cubs

While the weather was not expected to be great for the game, the festivities were.  There was a grand parade that met at Grant Park at 1pm and included such dignitaries as Mayor Thompson, Governor Dunne and Chief of Police Healey.

At the park were four brass bands and marchers from over twenty Chicago clubs and associations.  There was also a German band and over 150 supporters of the team to beat, The Cincinnati Reds.

The major decision to make really depended upon the weather.  According to the Cubs’ manager, Joe Tinker, if the game was dry the pitching would be performed by spitballers  Claude Hendrix or George McConnell.  If the game was a wet one he would go with Tom Seaton.

At the beginning of the game was a 21 cannon salute as the American Flag was being raised. (The Star Spangled Banner wasn’t our National Anthem yet)

As a special incentive, George F. Kelly, a Chicago tailor, offered a new suit to the first player to hit a ball over the fence.  Obviously baseball salaries were a bit lower then.

The game started late because of all the festivities and there were upwards of 20,000 fans in attendance.  Tinker chose Hendrix as the opening pitcher and the game was on.  The Cubs were losing most of the game but tied it up in the ninth inning ultimately winning against the Reds 7-6 in the 11th!

Not a bad first day on the north side!

 

Find Chicago History The Stranger Side on FACEBOOK

Find Ray Johnson on Twitter and Google+

If you love Chicago History please consider subscribing to my posts. You will receive an email that alerts you when a new article is published. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

 

 

Leave a comment