Sunday, January 06, 2008

More changes at Wrigley

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first night game at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. The first night game was Aug. 8, 1988 (easy to remember: 8/8/88). Actually, after a couple of innings, the contest was rained out, and the first official game at night occurred the following evening.

Part of the ballpark's charm was (until 1988) its daytime-only schedule and its low-tech features, including its hand-operated scoreboard.

Anyway, there have been several changes to the historic stadium, built in 1914, with most of them involving dollar signs -- more advertising signs, corporate boxes and high-priced seats. But baseball has always been a business, so no one should be shocked or surprised.

Last week, the city gave the Cubs permission to add 70 “bullpen box seats” along the third base line and install additional signage inside Wrigley. More room for fans, less room for ballplayers to track down foul balls.

In the 19th and early 20th century, if more spectators showed up than could be accommodated, management let patrons stand in the outfield, behind ropes. Batted balls hit into the crowd usually counted as a ground-rule double.

Maybe the Cubs will bring back that practice. How much would people pay to stand ON the landmark field during a game?

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