Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy 100th Birthday, Wrigley Field

April 23rd, 2014, marks the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field opening its doors to Chicago baseball fans. Many Americans have fond memories of visiting Wrigley over the past several decades, and Wrigley is still voted one of the best fields in baseball. To celebrate this occasion, I recently spoke with two of the longest tenured season-ticket holders at Wrigley Field.

Since 1958, Bill Irace has been a season-ticket holder at the corner of Clark and Addison. Now 95, Irace remembers watching Cubs all-stars such as Hack Wilson and Charlie Grimm grace the baseball diamond. Working for a family-owned electrical contractor, Irace would frequently take clients to Wrigley to enjoy a mid-summer game. “I remember when Hal Totten, radio play-by-play announcer, would blast out announcements through his megaphone. If there was a pitching change, Hal would shout out this information into the megaphone that could be heard in the outfield. In the 1940s, the standing-room-only section was in front of the outfield bleachers. If a baseball was hit into the crowd, it was ruled a HR. Roughly one hundred fans were able to fit into this section.” Children who attended the game with Bill were almost guaranteed to get a baseball.

Carol Haddon has been a Wrigley Field mainstay since 1970. Carol grew up on the South Side of Chicago; she remembers taking the “el” (Chicago’s elevated train) to Wrigley with her mother for “Ladies Day.” As a retired special-education teacher, Carol has fond memories of taking her special-ed students to the ballgame. Tickets were $3.25 for a box seat. (The same ticket now costs between $90 and $127.) Carol’s seats are in the first row atop the Cubs dugout. “Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game was one of the most memorable games,” she says. “The domination that Wood had over every batter was unbelievable. The Cubs were the NL Champs in 1984. It was their first postseason appearance since 1945. I remember manager Jim Frey taking the entire team and walking around the baseball diamond thanking the fans for being very supportive.”

Thanks to Bill and Carol for sharing their memories with me. Here’s hoping the Cubs return to the postseason in 2014!

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