MLB Season Ends

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

"Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs"


Two years ago, Fenway Park turned 100 years old, and there were celebrations marking the milestone anniversary of "America's Most Beloved Ballpark."

In 2014, the focus now turns to Wrigley Field, as the Chicago Cubs will honoring their famed ballyard with their 100th anniversary celebrations.

Pultizer Prize-winning sportswriter Ira Berkow has just put together a fine coffee table-style book called "Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs" in honor of this anniversary.

We all know about the Cubs and their star-crossed history, and this book covers all of those bases. (Sorry, I couldn't help but use that cliched term.) The book opens with a preface by Cubs star pitcher Kerry Wood, and a foreword by retired US Supreme Court justice and lifelong Cubs fan John Paul Stevens.

Anything you can think of about the Cubs is covered in the book: the pennant-winning years, Babe Ruth's alleged "Called Shot", the nonsense about a "Billy Goat Curse", when lights came to the park in 1988, the failures of 1969 and 1984 when the Cubs looked on their way to the World Series, and of course, the 2003 Game 6 NLCS loss. (I really wanted a Red Sox-Cubs World Series that year. Just wasn't meant to be.)

Every great player who ever played for the Cubs gets the royal treatment, everyone from Gabby Hartnett to Ernie Banks to Sammy Sosa. I really enjoyed seeing the many great old black and white photos of Wrigley, back in the days when the Cubs were actually winning pennants. Colorful characters of their history like Bill Veeck and Harry Caray take center stage here. And there's a small section in the book on President Barack Obama, a noted White Sox fan, on his take on the Cubs and Wrigley. (I don't think too many North Siders will enjoy it much.)

The other sports that have graced Wrigley are not forgotten, as the time the Chicago Bears called Wrigley home is remembered, along with the NHL Winter Classic that was played in 2009 there as well.

The book also has many interesting takes from their famous fans, from Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, George Will, Billy Corgan, Shecky Greene (wow, he's still alive!), and even Rod Blagojevich ( the former governor who is currently in slammer on corruption charges).

This absolutely the perfect book for the Cubs fan in your life. As a Red Sox fan, I have always had sympathy for the Cubs and their fans, and I have known a few in my life. Like us, they are fiercely loyal to their team, and this book drives that point home. I really hope I see the Cubs win a World Series in my lifetime. "Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs" is an enjoyable, but at the same time, a rather sad look back at one of America's most beloved sports teams.

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