Wrigley 100 4/23: The 1914 Opener
On this day in 1914, the magic that is Wrigley Field debuted as Weeghman Park in the Federal League as the Chi-Feds beat the Kansas City Packers 9-1 before a standing room crowd of over 20,000. The Chi-Feds would sweep the opening series.
Owner Charlie Weeghman, who had made his fortune in the lunch counter business, knew how to market the new team on the North Side. The Cubs were playing at the less-than-hospitable West Side Grounds and the White Sox were in two-year-old Comiskey Park. Fans stood along foul territory and crowded into the outfield as well. Ten brass bands headlined the ceremonies.
A close (only about 250 feet) left field fence led to a large number of homers in the dead ball era so the owner order a porch torn off a building just beyond left field so that the wall could go back 25 feet.
Even the sportswriters were pleased. “The wonderful setting for yesterday’s combat brought the thought that some one must have rubbed Aladdin’s lamp to effect such a magical transformation,” wrote J.G. Davis of the Chicago Tribune.
Former Cub legend Joe Tinker was the Chi-Feds manager. They would be renamed the Whales for the 1915 season and won the Federal League title. However the Federal League folded after two seasons and Weeghman was allowed to buy the Cubs. His new team moved into his park in 1916 and the rest is history.