Wrigley Field opened. What a difference a century makes. 100 years ago the owners built and paid for the ballpark. Now owners strong arm cities into paying for them.
Here's an early Wrigley/Cubs photo from when they actually had a real cub.
Before Wrigley was built around Clark, Waveland, Sheffield and Addison Avenues, that property was a Lutheran Seminary. It was originally purchased in 1851 by developer William Sheffield but somehow got into the hands of a Lutheran minister named William Passavant. In 1874, St. Mark's Lutheran Church had been constructed on the land. The small chapel served as the birthplace of the seminary until the school opened officially on Oct. 1, 1891, with six students.
As the seminary grew, so did the neighborhood.
"I get the impression it was pretty bucolic when the seminary opened, yet grew up and became a little too busy, noisy and dirty in the ensuing years," said Stuart Shea, author of the just-released "Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines.".
In 1909, the seminary bought adjoining land to give itself a buffer from the encroaching neighborhood. That brought the property to 8 acres, according to "Passavant's Vision: A History of the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary, 1891-1951," by Marjory R. Weng. But it didn't solve the problem, and the seminary vacated the property in 1910, moving to Maywood and later merging with other seminaries to form the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, which is now on East 55th Street.
Wrigley Field was originally named Weeghman Park and was built for a short lived 3rd professional baseball league team named the Whales.
The Whales' first game there was April 23, 1914. And even then, the presence of the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary was felt.
"There's a picture of the ballpark in the opener in 1914," Hartig said, "and beyond left field you see some of (the seminary buildings) on the property. There was a guy (on) the property, and he had time left on his lease. They were going to wait for the lease to expire. But when the season opened, there was something like nine home runs in the first three games.
"They decided the park was too small. So they checked the lease and saw it didn't say anything about a porch. So they took the back porch off the house and moved the fence back, right to his house."
The Cubs moved into Weeghman Park 2 years later in 1916 which is when the real bear cub appeared on the field.