Cubs to celebrate 1940s during homestand
Oldest living Cubs player Merullo to throw out first pitch at Wrigley Field
CHICAGO -- The Cubs will celebrate the 1940s during the next homestand, which begins Tuesday, including a visit from the oldest living Cubs player, Lennie Merullo. It's all part of Wrigley Field's 100th anniversary party.
On Friday, 10 alumni from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) will join the Cubs. The league, which was featured in the movie "A League of Their Own," was created and financed by then-Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley in 1943. The AAGPBL will be honored with a bobblehead for the first 10,000 fans at the game.
Merullo, 97, who is the last surviving player from the 1945 World Series team, will throw a ceremonial first pitch and sing during the seventh-inning stretch before Saturday's game against the Marlins. Merullo played shortstop for the Cubs from 1941-47.
On Saturday, the first 5,000 kids ages 6-13 will receive an OYO® Mini Figure of Andy Pafko, a five-time All-Star and Merullo's teammate on the Cubs' 1945 World Series team. The first 1,000 kids 13 and under can run the bases postgame.
On Sunday, the Cubs will wear a throwback uniform from 1942, the last year the team wore its uniform with a unique zipper vest and blue undershirt. This uniform also features a "Health" patch that was worn by teams that year to promote the "Hale America" fitness campaign.
The Marlins will take part in the throwback day and wear a uniform inspired by the Miami Sun Sox, a Minor League team in Florida during the late 1940s and '50s.
The Cubs play host to the Mets on Tuesday through Thursday, and the Marlins on Friday through Sunday. Tickets for both series are available at www.cubs.com.
There also will be 1940s-inspired food at Wrigley during the homestand, including a Monte Cristo Sandwich. The Decade Dogs stand near section 123 will serve Corn Dog Nibblers, which are deep-fried Vienna Beef mini corn dogs.
Kraft Foods, which is celebrating 100 years of cheese making, is joining Wrigley's party by donating $100 to Cubs Charities for every opposing batter a Cubs pitcher strikes out at home in June.
Stan Hack Jr. and Dave Hack, sons of former Cubs third baseman Stan Hack, will throw ceremonial first pitches and lead the stretch on Wednesday. On Sunday, Pafko's nephew, Mike Nedoba, will close out the homestand with a ceremonial first pitch and sing during the seventh-inning stretch.
The 1940s marked another year of changes at Wrigley. On April 26, 1941, the Cubs became the first team to have an organ playing inside the ballpark. Later that year, the team nearly installed lights, however P.K. Wrigley donated 165 tons of steel intended for the ballpark to the U.S. war effort a day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
For two consecutive weekends in January 1944, Wrigley Field was home to the Norge Ski Club's 38th annual invitational ski jump tournament. A jump was assembled from scaffolding and covered in snow and ice. Skiers started their descent near where the broadcast booth is located now, and landed behind second base.
In June 1946, Wrigley Field was home to a rodeo and thrill circus that featured some of the best riders in the world. More than 900 cowboys, cowgirls, Hollywood daredevils and Sioux Indians rode bulls and broncos and performed rope tricks and stunts.
Wrigley also hosted its largest paid regular-season crowd in history on May 18, 1947, when 46,572 fans packed the park to watch Jackie Robinson make his Chicago debut for the visiting Dodgers. Later that year, Wrigley Field hosted its first All-Star Game, with Pafko and Phil Cavarretta representing the Cubs.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.