As we approach the holiday season, Wrigleyville Nation wants to express its thanks for Wrigley Field. (No Field, No Ville, No Nation!) The Cubs blogosphere has covered the Wrigley renovation drama in great depth dating back to early 2012. But we expect that drama will end soon after the Chicago City Council approves the recent changes to the Wrigley Field/hotel renovation plan. After that, the only remaining hurdle, according to Crane Kenney, is eliminating the threat of litigation from the rooftop owners. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has repeatedly indicated the $500 million renovation plan will not begin in earnest until the threat of litigation has been lifted. One rumor has the team or the Ricketts family joining the ranks of rooftop owners by purchasing the Waveland rooftops that will be screened out by the new Jumbotron in left field. Whatever the solution, Kenney expressed confidence earlier this month that the issue would be resolved by year’s end. We are thankful the drama is drawing to a close.
Thanks to the editors of USA Today Sports Weekly we are newly reminded what all the fuss is about. In the current issue, on newsstands now, BaseballParks.com’s Joe Mock completed his season-long review of major league ballparks and Wrigley Field was ranked the #1 MLB stadium. Mock knows ballparks: he has visited more than 400 professional and college ballparks since 2005 alone. The review itself is available in print-only, but will eventually be posted on the web site, where you can currently view the MLB ballpark rankings 1 through 30.
Also on newsstands this week, Sports Illustrated released a Special Centennial Issue celebrating 100 years of the Friendly Confines. The special print edition, which will be available on magazine racks throughout the winter, includes historical photo essays and features on each decade in Wrigley history. Sports Illustrated also recently published a new coffee table book for the holiday season featuring “Baseball’s Greatest” ranking Wrigley Field as the 2nd best major league ballpark of all time.
As we discussed on the podcast last week, the Cubs will celebrate the Wrigley Field centennial throughout the 2014 season. The team will commemorate the ballpark’s rich history during 10 decade-themed homestands during which the Cubbies will don historic uniforms on “Throwback Sundays.” Wrigley Field has a fascinating history that includes much more than baseball: it was once home to the Chicago Bears and has hosted college football, college baseball, boxing, and soccer, as well as the Chicago Blackhawks and Harlem Globetrotters.
Wrigley also knows how to rock, according to Rolling Stone magazine, which recently ranked the Friendly Confines as the country’s second-best stadium to see a rock concert, trailing only Madison Square Garden in New York. Wrigleyville Nation was in attendance for many classic Wrigley shows over the years, dating back to the Jimmy Buffet show in 2005, the Boss in 2012, and Pearl Jam last summer. Rolling Stone might have ranked Wrigley first but for this brutal rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” by rock icon Ozzy Osbourne in August 2003. In the midst of a pennant chase no less! Check out the nonplussed Steve Stone looking on from the booth and an equally confused Kerry Wood watching from the Cubs dugout.
While Ozzy’s performance was not quite a classic, we owe thanks to Bleed Cubbie Blue for sharing this amazing slice of baseball and television history at Wrigley Field. This vintage color footage of a Cubs-Reds game on August 19, 1965, features the final 3 innings of Reds pitcher Jim Maloney’s 10-inning no-hitter. The lineups that day featured 4 Hall of Famers – Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, and Frank Robinson – plus a young Pete Rose, who should be an HOFer. Among other things, you will hear Jack Brickhouse in his prime, including his signature “Stee Rike One” call, as he broadcasts this bit of baseball history.
Our final thanks goes to Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond for this priceless moment at Wrigley Field last August, playing catch before the game with an avid 9-year-old 4th generation Cub fan from the Wrigleyville Nation family. This game of catch would not have quite the same charm anywhere else! Thanks to Wrigley Field.