Festivities lined up for Wrigley's centennial bash
Ballpark's 100th birthday to feature special guests, throwback jerseys and more
CHICAGO -- You can party with Ernie Banks, Gale Sayers, Dutchie Caray and members of the Weeghman family at Wrigley Field's 100th birthday party next week.
The ballpark will celebrate its 100th birthday on April 23, when the Cubs play host to the D-backs a century after the Chicago Federals opened then Weeghman Park against the Kansas City Packers. The 100th birthday game headlines the first of 10 decade-themed homestands celebrating 100 years of Wrigley Field.
Tickets for the April 23 game are still available at cubs.com/tickets.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and some of Wrigley Field's icons will take part in pregame ceremonies. Past owners will be recognized, and the current owners, the Ricketts family, will be joined by descendants of both the Weeghman and Wrigley families and representatives of the Chicago Tribune.
Fans will be able to dress the part, as the first 30,000 at the game will receive a replica 1914 Chicago Federals jersey upon entering the ballpark. The jerseys mirror the throwback Chi-Feds home uniforms the Cubs will wear on the field. The D-backs will participate by wearing Kansas City Federal League uniforms.
Prior to the game, historic photos and video tributes to Wrigley Field will play on video board in right field. Greeters will wear clothing modeled from 100 years ago, while the grounds crew will wear Weeghman Park jackets from the same era . After both starting lineups are announced, members of the Northwestern University marching band will take the field, which was customary for Opening Day and other special events during the ballpark's first two decades.
The Chicago Bears, who played 50 seasons at Wrigley Field from 1921-70, will be honored, and members of the McCaskey family will be joined on field by former players Sayers and Dick Butkus.
Several former Cubs players will take part in the festivities, including Banks, Glenn Beckert, Andre Dawson, Bobby Dernier, Randy Hundley, Gary Matthews, Billy Williams and pitchers Ryan Dempster, Fergie Jenkins, Milt Pappas, Lee Smith and Kerry Wood. Sam and Spencer Brown, Ron Santo's grandchildren, will take part as well.
Sue Quigg, grandniece of former Cubs owner Charles Weeghman, will throw the game's ceremonial first pitch using the 100-year-old ball her grandmother, Dessa Weeghman, threw at a Chi-Feds game a century ago. Wayne Messmer will sing the national anthem, and the pregame festivities will conclude with a historic biplane flyover.
The tributes to the ballpark will continue throughout the day. Fans will have a chance to sing "Happy Birthday" in the fifth inning and join Dutchie Caray, wife of the late Cubs broadcast legend Harry Caray, and many of the day's special guests as they lead the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch from the field.
Special food items will be available to get fans in the mood. The Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near section 142, will feature a classic Reuben sandwich with pastrami, sauerkraut, house-made Louie dressing and Kraft Swiss Cheese on a marble rye bread. Or fans can munch on a breaded pork chop sandwich with slow-cooked onions and spicy mustard on toasted roll. The Decade Dogs stand near section 123 will serve decade-themed specialty hot dogs, starting with the 1910s Reuben Dog featuring a Vienna Beef hot dog, sliced corn beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese.
There will be signature cocktails as well, including a 1910s Weeghman Park Old Fashioned, comprised of Bulleit Rye and Finest Call Old Fashioned Mix, served with an orange slice and cherry. That will be offered in a limited-edition souvenir glass from April 18-24 on the main concourse at section 109 and in the bleacher patio in left field.
Game-used memorabilia will be available to collectors through various purchase opportunities. Framed, game-used bases with commemorative base jewels may be pre-ordered or purchased at the Cubs Authentics kiosk at Wrigley Field, pending availability.
Baseballs used at the ballpark this season feature the Wrigley Field 100th logo, while an additional "April 23, 2014" time stamp will be added to baseballs used on the actual game.
Game-worn throwback Chi-Feds uniforms will be available via auction following the April 23 game. For additional purchasing and product information, collectors can check out www.cubs.com/authentics or visit the Cubs Authentics kiosk at Wrigley Field.
Cubs Charities will continue Wrigley Field's birthday party at its primary fundraiser, the Bricks and Ivy Ball at the Field Museum. The "Party of the Century" theme will be integrated into the event for an exciting night of fun, entertainment and charitable giving. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet players, coaches and front-office staff while bidding on exclusive experiences and memorabilia.
The first 10,000 fans attending the April 23 game will receive a birthday cupcake, compliments of Jewel-Osco. A cake from Carlo's Bakery, setting of the TLC show "Cake Boss," will be on display near the Ernie Banks statue on Clark Street until the third inning. A portion of the cake will be served later to guests at the Bricks and Ivy Ball.
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.