Synopses & Reviews
In spring 1914, a new ballpark opened in Chicago. Hastily constructed after epic political maneuvering around Chicagoand#8217;s and organized baseballand#8217;s hierarchies, the new Weeghman Park (named after its builder, fast-food magnate Charley Weeghman) was home to the Federal Leagueand#8217;s Chicago Whales. The park would soon be known as Wrigley Field, one of the most emblematic and controversial baseball stadiums in America.
Inand#160;Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines,and#160;Stuart Shea provides a detailed and fascinating chronicle of this living historic landmark. The colorful history revealed inand#160;Wrigley Fieldand#160;shows how the stadium has evolved through the years to meet the shifting priorities of its owners and changing demands of its fans. While Wrigley Field today seems irreplaceable, we learn that from game one it has been the subject of endless debates over its future, its design, and its place in the neighborhood it calls home. To some, it is a hallowed piece of baseball history; to others, an icon of mismanagement and ineptitude. Shea deftly navigates the highs and lows, breaking through myths and rumors. And with another transformation imminent, he brings readers up to date on negotiations, giving much-needed historical context to the maneuvering.
Wrigley Fieldand#160;is packed with facts, stories, and surprises that will captivate even the most fair-weather fan. From dollar signs (the Ricketts family paid $900 million for the team and stadium in 2009), to exploding hot dog carts (the Cubs lost that game 6and#150;5), to the name of Billy Sianisand#8217;s curse-inducing goat (Sonovia), Shea uncovers the heart of the stadiumand#8217;s history. As the park celebrates its centennial, Wrigley Field continues to prove that its colorful and dramatic history is more interesting than any of its mythology.
“This is the story of how ordinary old Wrigley Field became Wrigley Field, baseball mecca and tourist trap, a ballpark populated by dreams and drunks. It takes a Chicago native and baseball scholar like Shea, a north sider who has lived and died with the Cubs for three decades, to write this outstanding history of one of baseballs crown jewels." Gary Gillette, editor of The Baseball Encyclopedia
"One comes away from this read with a longing for a sun-filled afternoon of hot dogs and baseball." Chicago Tribune
and#8220;Unlike any other venue, Wrigley Field has beenand#160;a secondand#160;home for generations of fans, a paragon of modern convenience turned baseballand#8217;s ultimate wayback machine, a status symbol for social climbers and corporate muscle alike. Sheaand#8217;s book is the perfect history of the place that reflectsand#160;Chicagoand#8217;sand#160;past and future, its failures and itsand#160;aspirations.and#8221;
"Most ballpark books are like junk foodand#8212;hundreds of empty calories of glossy photos and told-a-million-times anecdotes. They sate your appetite briefly without feeding your brain. But Stuart Sheaand#8217;s Wrigley Field is a Thanksgiving feast for baseball fans. The book is saturated with culture and passion, flavor and spice, all lovingly created by a master chef.and#160;This is history to be savored: a winning combination of intimate knowledge, amazing detail, relevant context, and expert storytelling."
and#8220;Home of the Cubs, worldand#8217;s greatest ballpark, Chicago's largest beer garden, bucket list-worthy tourist attraction, field of (broken) dreams, enduring monument to enduring failureand#8212;Wrigley Field is all of these things, and of course so much more. Stuart Shea's witty, informative, and deeply entertaining book gives the Friendly Confines the tribute it deserves.and#8221;
"Amid Wrigley Field's birthday revels much will be reported about its vines, its scoreboard, its goat, its very originand#8212;much of it not quite so. More than any other American institution, baseball most wholeheartedly welcomes half-baked history and curdled lore. It's fun, after all; what grinch wishes to poke at the tale of Babe Ruth's called shot? But more often than not the real stories are even more delicious, and no one has gathered more of them than author Stuart Shea. His book is an unceasing delight."
and#8220;The 448-page book is packed with colorful anecdotes that are sure to keep any Chicago history buff or baseball fanand#8212;yes, even those who root for the South Side White Sox (or 'Pale Hose,' as Shea notes they are nicknamed)and#8212;glued to their bleacher seat.and#8221;
"Stuart Shea's Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines deserves the location of honor on the nightstand of each and every Cubs fan, to be read a chapter or two at a time among Opening Day and the World Series."
and#8220;You should read this book because of the history of wonderful stories and anecdotes about the team's and the ballpark's history, some of which is 'contentious,' as Shea's title states, some of which is just colorful and fun, just as is the history of the neighborhood and city in which it resides.and#8221;
"Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines is a great reminder of what makes the ballpark so special, and why the Cubs remain so popular."
andldquo;One of the best books ever written about the Cubs, their home and the fans who flock there to watch them, win or lose.andrdquo;
The mystique of Wrigley Fieldandmdash;perhaps Americaandrsquo;s most celebrated ballpark and among the most controversialandmdash;comes under the microscope in Stuart Sheaandrsquo;s meticulous examination of its history, culture, and meaning. Both loving and cold-eyed, Sheaandrsquo;s history digs into the fiscal maneuverings that led to the rise and fall of various ownership regimes (and the decade upon decade of on-field failure), and it details the physical changes to the park over time. Shea elaborates on the cultural and social transformations evident in the evolution of Wrigley, tying them to changes in national food and alcohol cultures, labor relations, and conceptions of urban identity. Next year marks Wrigleyandrsquo;s 100th anniversary.
About the Author
Stuart Shea has worked in baseball for more than twenty years as a columnist, editor, author, researcher, and data administrator. He is the author of Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines; co-editor of The ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, Emerald Guide to Baseball, and Who’s Who in Baseball; and co-author of Big League Ballparks. Shea lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Myths in Concrete
Chapter 1and#160;A New Place, a New Park
Chapter 2and#160;Opening Day at Weeghman Park: April 23, 1914
Chapter 3and#160;Heady Days: Weeghman Park, 1914and#8211;1917
Chapter 4and#160;1918: Weeghman and the War
Chapter 5and#160;No Depression: Cubs Park/Wrigley Field, 1919and#8211;1932
Chapter 6and#160;Last Hurrahs: Wrigley Field, 1932and#8211;1945
Chapter 7and#160;Postwar Blues
Chapter 8and#160;New Wine in Old Bottles: Wrigley Field, 1966and#8211;1981
Chapter 9and#160;The Empire of the Tribune: Wrigley Field, 1982and#8211;2009
Chapter 10and#160;The Cubs Way, 2009 and Beyond