Phil Wrigley's Innovations and Legacy

Harold FriendChief Writer IMay 16, 2009

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 18: Fans pose with the Ernie Banks statue outside of Wrigley Field prior to the game between the Chicago Cubs against the Milwaukee Brewers at the Wrigley Field on September 18, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Neither Hal Steinbrenner nor Randy Levine has to worry about clearing a date on their busy calendars during the off season to receive an award that Phil Wrigley received in 1957.

The New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers' of America presented Mr. Wrigley with the coveted Bill Slocum Award for long and meritorious service to the game. Bill Slocum was a former baseball writer who made many contributions to baseball.

Phil Wrigley Promoted Change But Not Night Baseball

Phil Wrigley became a majority stockholder in the Chicago Cubs in 1932. He refused to install lights in the Cubs' ballpark, which pleased players, fans, and writers, but Phil Wrigley was not against progress or change.

He created Ladies' Day and introduced children's tickets. Of course, in our politically correct society, allowing some individuals to gain a benefit based on gender is playing with fire.

All-American Girls Professional Baseball League

The Cubs were the first team to broadcast all of their games, and Wrigley was instrumental in having as many games as possible televised, which upset other owners, but time proved that Wrigley was right.

During World War II, Phil Wrigley founded the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League to maintain interest in baseball, and in 1961, he created a "college of specialized coaches" to run the team.

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The mistake was rotating the coaches as manager, but today, teams have specialized coaches and trainers.

Wrigley Was Revered

It is inconceivable today, but a baseball team owner was revered. Arthur Daley of the New York Times considered Phil Wrigley one of the great men in baseball.

"They should build a monument to Phil Wrigley at Cooperstown and that monument should be taller than the Empire State Building."

An Attractive Ballpark

Phil Wrigley insisted that the Cubs have an attractive ballpark. There was ivy on the outfield wall, the stands were spotless, even the day after a doubleheader had been played (and probably lost by the Cubs), and the ushers were courteous and efficient.

The seats were the widest in baseball, and that was in 1957, before obesity became an American dilemma.

Unlike today, the fans were always right. No one ever had a problem leaving her seat to go to the rest room.

Hands Off the Team

The Cubs' owner was a businessman, not a baseball man. He never interfered with the Cubs' front office with respect to baseball decisions.

When the team started to and continued to deteriorate after winning its last pennant in 1945, Wrigley was forced to replace his baseball men with other personnel, but he allowed them to run the team.


Phil Wrigley passed away on April 12, 1977. Eleven years later, on August 8, 1988, the lights went on at Wrigley Field and the game was rained out.

The next night, the lights went on again, and the Cubs beat the Mets in the first night game ever played at Wrigley Field.

A Place For Baseball

There have been changes to Wrigley Field, but it remains one of two structures which cannot be mistaken for anything but a place where baseball games are played. The other is Fenway Park.

Neither the Cubs nor the Red Sox can compete with the Yankees when it comes to winning World Championships, but the Yankees put themselves in the uneviable position of not being able to compete with Cubs or Red Sox when it comes to ballparks.

Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are Ernie Banks and Dom DiMaggio. The Yankees' new ballpark is Alex Rodriguez.


By ROSCOE McGOWEN. (1957, January 20). MANTLE IS VOTED PLAYER OF YEAR :To Receive Awards. New York Times (1857-Current file),177. Retrieved May 16, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 90768576).

By ARTHUR DALEY. (1957, February 3). Sports of The Times :Man of Distinction. New York Times (1857-Current file),160. Retrieved May 16, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 90772414).

Phil Wrigley

Lights at Wrigley Field


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