2. Wrigley Field
This is the second oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. It was opened in 1914. Charles Weeghman owned the original club, the Chicago Whales who played in Chicago during 1913 in the Federal League.
In 1915 the Chicago Whales won the championship of the Federal League. After the 1915 season, the Federal League folded, and Charles Weeghman approached William Wrigley Jr. the chewing gum manufacturer to buy his baseball club. In 1918 Wrigley acquired the club, and he moved the now named Chicago Cubs to a new stadium which had been named Wrigley Field.
In 1938 Bill Veeck, son of the Club’s President, planted vines against the outfield walls to improve the decorum of the ballpark.
The Cubs have played at Wrigley Field since 1916. One of the great disappoints for the Cubs is that they have never won a world series.
For years and years, the ownership group did not provide the necessary financial support to build this team up because of their losing record. Then in 2009 a new ownership group (The Rickett Family) came on board and brought Theo Epstein to tow.
Things began to change. Modern amenities have since been added, giant video monitors, improved seating, better club houses and the Cubs made the playoffs last year just to name a few of the changes.
One other important fact about Wrigley Field is that it still has its Ivy on the walls in the outfield, and it is still the only ballpark in Major League Baseball where baseballs can get stuck in vegetation and go “out of play”.
In 1937 after the scoreboard renovations, a flag was raised with a “W” or an “L” on top of the scoreboard indicating the results of the game. Today it is no different, on the day it is a win then a white “W” flag is raised, and if it is a loss, then a bluer “L” flag is raised. In this high tech world, you can still see how the Cubs fared by looking at the ballpark.
A couple of other traditions still take place during the Cubs games – in 1982 when the Hall of Fame announcer Harry Caray came to the Cubs; he began singing the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at the 7th inning stretch. Today, even though Harry Caray has gone on to his great reward, the song is still sung by the crowd and led by folks like Mike Ditka and Jay Leno.
Wrigley Field offers its fans fun, history, and good baseball.
1. Fenway Park
This queen mother of sports venues is the oldest ballpark in use in Major League Baseball. It was built in 1912 and besides being 104 years, old Fenway Park is in great shape.
The current ownership group saw the potential in the existing run down Fenway that they took over in 2002. They decided to renovate it instead of tearing it down and moving to a new location.
The unique shape and design of the ballpark have given birth to the Pesky Pole, the Green Monster, The Monster seats, the triangle, and the Carlton Fisk Pole. Fenway is the smallest park in Major League Baseball for seating capacity.
On March 7, 2012, Fenway Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Former Red Sox Pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee said that Fenway was a “shrine”. Fenway is one of the best-known sports venues in the world.
The opening day game in 1912 was against the NY Highlanders, and Boston won that game. In 1913 The NY Highlanders name was changed to the NY Yankees and the greatest rivalry in baseball began.
George Will called Fenway a “hitters ballpark” in his book “Men at Work.” Some of the greatest hitters in baseball history played for the Red Sox from Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Carl Yastrzemski to Big Papi (David Ortiz), and the list goes on.
The red seat in the right field stands was the longest home run ever hit at Fenway Park it was 502 feet, and it was hit by Ted Williams in 1946.
“The subtle charms of Fenway lie in the trappings left over from the turn of the century: the old brick facades, the bizarre outfield fence angles, the seats that don’t actually face the field of play. It’s delightfully imperfect…”
This last quote is from my baseball consultant for this article Ray Kinsella. Ray is just one of the millions who love baseball, it’s history, it’s legends and its excitement. I thank him for his input on this article, and I hope you will be inspired to take the time to explore these five historically significant ballparks and once again hear the words that began in Boston in 1912 – “PLAY BALL”.