The 100th birthday celebration for Wrigley Field. Anthony Ponce reports.
Chicago's Wrigley Field -- the Friendly Confines -- turns 100 years old Wednesday.
The Cubs will hold a pregame celebration for the ivy-covered ballpark, which opened as Weeghman Park on April 23, 1914, before the team takes on the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 1:20 p.m. game.
To celebrate, the first 30,000 fans will get a replica 1914 Chicago Federals jersey as they enter the park. Cubs plan to wear those same throwback jerseys on the field, and the Diamondbacks get in on the fun with Kansas City Federal League uniforms.
The first 10,000 fans will receive a birthday cupcake from Jewel-Osco. "An elaborate decorative cake" from Carlo's Bakery, the bakery on the TLC show "Cake Boss," will be on display near the Ernie Banks statue on Clark Street until the third inning.
"These birthday gifts aren’t the only reason fans will want to arrive early for the game," the team said. "The sights and sounds at the ballpark that day will reflect the ballpark experience from a century ago, including music, graphics and even elements of the game broadcast."
Historic photos and video tributes will play on the right field video board, and greeters and grounds crews will wear clothing modeled from a century ago.
A marching band takes the field after both starting lineups are announced, and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig joins Wrigley Field icons in a pregame ceremony. Past owners will be recognized, and the Chicago Bears, who played 50 seasons at Wrigley Field, will be honored.
Cubs legends and Hall of Famers are expected to attend and return to their former positions on the field for the pregame celebration: Ernie Banks (SS), Glenn Beckert (2B), Andre Dawson (RF), Ryan Dempster (P), Bobby Dernier (CF), Randy Hundley (C), Fergie Jenkins (P), Gary Matthews (LF), Milt Pappas (P), Lee Smith (P), Billy Williams (LF) and Kerry Wood (P).
Popular throwback food items also will be on offer, including a classic Reuben sandwich and breaded pork chop sandwich. Classic cocktails include a 1910s Weeghman Park Old Fashioned served in limited-edition souvenir glasses.
Harry Caray's wife, Dutchie Caray, leads the 7th inning stretch from the field.
One thing that will not be mentioned during the birthday party: the losing.
"I don't think I really need that kind of a reminder," Cubs president Theo Epstein said Tuesday. "When it comes to the 100th anniversary, for me, I think just how Wrigley is the epicenter of fans' connection to the Cubs. Wrigley not only connects the fans to the team but also generations of fans to one another, fathers to sons and grandfathers to grandsons, mothers to daughters, mothers to sons."
The Cubs have never won a World Series title at Wrigley, but more pressing for Epstein is turning a team that around has had four straight losing seasons and is off to a 6-12 record.
"The losing doesn't ever get any easier," Epstein said. "But it's not like we spend a lot of time sitting around stewing about that. You just try to throw yourself into all the opportunities that present themselves that could make us better, so that we can win as quick as possible for as long as possible."
"It's not too late for us to turn that around," he said. "We haven't hit our stride. We haven't really got into a rhythm yet."
About this year's club, he Epstein said:
"It's kind of a plucky team so far. I think we've fought pretty hard; we've played pretty hard. Unfortunately, we've fallen to some of the same early-season trends that we've had the last few years. Closer issues, hitting with runners in scoring position issues and those have contributed to us getting off to a rockier start than one might expect based on the starting pitching that we've gotten."
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 22, 2014
Quinn Issues "Wrigley Field Day" Proclamation
Gov. Pat Quinn declared Wednesday "Wrigley Field Day" following a morning visit to the ballpark.
"Here’s to the next 100 years at Wrigley Field," the governor said in a statement. "I saw Jackie Robinson play at Wrigley, which is the last standing ballpark the great number 42 ever played in. From the scoreboard to the ivy and all the legendary athletes that ever stepped foot on its diamond, Wrigley Field is not just an Illinois landmark, it’s a national treasure.”
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 23, 2014
Get more information on the birthday celebration and other birthday-themed promotions throughout the season, head to WrigleyField100.com.