Wrigley Field Turns 100

April 23, 1914. One hundred years ago on this date, the first professional baseball game was played in Wrigley Field.  The Cubs have never won a World Series championship while playing in this park.

It was built on Chicago’s north side, at the intersection of Waveland and Sheffield Avenues, for a team known as the Chicago Chifeds who renamed themselves a year later as the “Whales.” Construction of the park, originally called Weeghman Park, only took a few months to complete.  The Chifeds/Whales were part of an upstart 6-team professional league called the Federal League which began “stealing” players from the then-existing American and National Leagues. The League ran out of money after 1915 and ended its run. Ironically, the Chicago Whales won the Federal League Championship in 1915, making it the last team to win a major league championship in the park.

1914: Construction of Weeghman Park, named after the Whaler's owner "Lucky Charlie Weeghman, who made his original fortunes in Lunch Counter franchises (the precursor to fast-food restaurants).  began in February.

February 1914: Construction begins of Weeghman Park, named after the Whaler’s owner “Lucky Charlie” Weeghman, who made his original fortunes in Lunch Counter franchises (the precursor to fast-food restaurants).

Summer, 1914. A Federal League game with the Whalers playing an unknown opponent.  The Federal League was short-lived after a no-nonsense Federal Judge in Chicago granted a permanent injunction closing down the Federal League.  That Judge's name was Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who became Major League Baseball's first Commissioner, following a scandal involving the Chicago White Sox when "Shoeless Joe" Jackson and 7 other players were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series.

Summer, 1914. A Federal League game with the Chifeds playing an unknown opponent. The Federal League was short-lived after it began hemorrhaging money in 1915 due to interference from the other two leagues.  The Federal League sued the National League over this interference, but a no-nonsense Federal Judge in Chicago–Kennesaw Mountain Landis–dithered in making a decision. The Federal League collapsed.  Interestingly, that lawsuit made it up to the U.S. Supreme Court where it declared that  Major League Baseball was exempt from Federal Anti-trust laws.

Weeghman bought the Chicago Cubs after 1915 and moved them into the park in 1916.  It became “Cubs Park.” Eventually, William Wrigley bought out Weeghman in the late teens  and it was renamed Wrigley Field in 1927. Although night games began in the National League in 1935, Wrigley Field did not install them–after intense pressure and debate–until  1988.

Will the Cubs ever win a World Series there? Hopefully.

1937:  In come the famous vines in the outfield. Many a ball was lost--or claimed to be lost--in this foliage.

1937: In come the famous vines,”Boston ivy,” in the outfield. Many a ball was lost–or claimed to be lost–in this foliage.

August 8, 1988. Let there be light. Originally, there were supposed be installed after the 1941 season, but after Pearl Harbor, P. K. Wrigley (William Wrigley's son), donated the lights to the war effort and later declared that he would never allow lights in Wrigley Field.

August 8, 1988. Let there be light. Originally, there were supposed be installed after the 1941 season, but after Pearl Harbor, P. K. Wrigley (William Wrigley’s son), donated the lights to the war effort and later declared that he would never allow lights in Wrigley Field.

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America Turns a Page

April 12, 1945:  Many notable historical events occurred this week in history.  The Civil War began in 1861; Lincoln’s assassination occurred in 1865; the Titanic went down in 1912; the Apollo 13 crew made it back safely in 1970; and sensationally and most recently, Captain Richard Phillips was rescued by Navy Seals in 2009.  Arguably, however, one of the most significant events that occurred during this week may be the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the succession of Harry Truman’s presidency.

By the fall of 1944, Roosevelt’s appeared sickly; his face was thinner and gaunt. A whispering campaign by FDR’s enemies subtly suggested that Roosevelt was too sick to run for a fourth term.  And he was very sick.  Dr. Howard G. Bruenn,  FDR’s cardiologist, diagnosed the President with heart disease, left ventricular cardiac failure, and bronchitis. His blood pressure was off the charts.  Dr Bruenn recommended bed rest.  However, FDR’s chief physician, Ross T. McIntire sloughed this off, irresponsibly proclaiming that FDR’s cardiovascular system was fine and that the President was suffering from recurrent bronchitis and the flu. For himself, FDR maintained a strict “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding his health.  He followed Dr. McIntire’s advice.  He did not rest and he maintained a vigorous campaign schedule and thereafter a busy Presidential schedule. America elected a very sick man who did not have long to live.

Roosevelt collapsed while he was posing for a watercolor portrait at his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia on April 12, 1945.  “I have a terrible headache,” he had said immediately before he lost consciousness.  The end was near. He died about 2 hours later, around 3:30 pm.  Americans were stunned by news and our nation grieved. And now it was Truman’s turn — he was hardly known — but his swearing-in ceremony as President occurred just a few hours after FDR’s death.

A page had been turned. While FDR represented righting the U.S. economy in the 1930s and winning the war in the 1940s,  Harry Truman’s Presidency would be dominated by post-war issues, both domestically and internationally, clothed in our newly christened Superpower status.  Truman’s post-war policies set forth a solid foundation that both future Republican and Democrat administrations would build upon and follow for at least the next 50 years. Although Truman became very unpopular during the last years of his presidency, scholars have now placed Truman’s Presidency into the “near-great” or “great” categories. And he was a great President. But that is the subject of another discussion for another day…

FDR in 1940:  Energetic and very much in command.

FDR in 1940: Energetic, vibrant, and very much in command.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FDR

One day before FDR’s death. Looking frail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eleanor Roosevelt sent this telegram to her son John.

Eleanor Roosevelt sent this telegram to her son John.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadness in everyone's face during Truman's swearing in ceremony.

Sadness abound: The expressions on those present during Truman’s swearing-in ceremony.

This and That…

Below are a few pictures that I came across that looked intriguing. Most of the photos were early prototypes of some inventions that made it. The other pictures I thought were … well … interesting. As always, you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

 

Hugo Gernsback invented the first "TV" glasses in the early 1960s. It was an advance in miniaturization.

Hugo Gernsback invented the first “TV” glasses in the early 1960s. It was an advance in miniaturization.

Here is an early"GPS" system from the 1930s. It worked by using a "rolling key" map. The map scrolled vertically, top-down, and its tempo was based on the speed of the car. No "recalculating" here.

Here is an early”GPS” system from the 1930s. It worked by using a “rolling key” map. The map scrolled vertically, top-down, and its tempo was based on the speed of the car. No “recalculating” here.

Children enjoying their apple products, 1948.

Children enjoying their apple products, 1948.

                                      versus

Version 2.0:  Children enjoying their apple products, 2011.

Version 2.0: Children enjoying their apple products, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1930s: This listening device was the precursor to radar, which through sound and simple math, could determine the distance and direction of a moving object. It was replaced by radar in the 1940s during WWII.

1930s: This listening device was the precursor to radar, which by sound and a simple mathematical equation, could determine the distance and direction of a moving object. It was replaced by radar in the 1940s during WWII.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonas Salk Made a Difference

April 12, 1955. On this date, Doctor Jonas Salk announced that he had developed a safe vaccine designed to eradicate polio. In the vaccine’s subsequent deployment, the incidence of polio dramatically decreased. With improvements in the vaccine, it was reported recently that even in close-quartered places like India, polio has been totally eradicated.

Polio is a virus that assaults the human body by attacking the digestive system, the central nervous system, and nerve cells.  For those infected with its vicious pathogens, polio’s effects can result in any number health problems which may include difficulty in breathing, muscle weakness and stiffness, paralysis, and death.  An infected person often manufactures it through normal bodily functions, and it is transferred by carriers such as food, water, saliva, and unclean hands. It does not discriminate among rich and poor, young and old, race or religion, the famous or the unknown.  The list of notables who contracted polio, among many, include FDR, Itzhak Perlman, Alan Alda, Lionel Barrymore, and even Jack Nicklaus.

It was a disease that has been present for at least a millennium. However, as industrial revolutions caused rural populations to crowd into cities  — where sanitation facilities were either poor or non-existent — things got much worse.  Sporadic epidemics in the later part of the 19th century developed into regular events in the first half of the 20th century, especially in the summer.  It was a huge problem.

Salk’s vaccine had to be safe, but potent. The side effects of many previous attempts at a vaccine were too dangerous — causing severe sickness and sometimes death.  Salk devoted eight years of his life to develop his own version of a vaccine. It was safe. And it worked.  He reported that after three doses of his vaccine, 99% of those treated became immune. There have been several significant improvements to the Salk vaccine since then, but Salk’s vaccine was a breakthrough. In 2014, the World Health Organization has identified just three countries — Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria — where polio remains a problem. This is largely due, however, to attitudes against receiving the vaccine.

Despite his immense contribution to humankind, Salk never got rich over it. In fact, when asked about a patent to his vaccine in a televised interview, Salk said,  “[t]here is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

A hospital ward with an iron lung machine that services many children.

A hospital ward with an iron lung machine that services many children.

Dr. Salk in his laboratory in 1954.

Dr. Salk in his laboratory in 1954.

Salk's announcement dominated the newspaper headlines. This headline from the Chicago Daily News on April 13, 1955 was typical.

Salk’s announcement dominated the newspaper headlines. This headline from the Chicago Daily News on April 13, 1955 was typical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supreme Court Crashers

1932 and 1937:  The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently maintained a policy to deny requests from outsiders to bring in cameras into its Courtroom. Only drawings or sketches are permitted.  However, at least twice in the last 6 months (October 2013 and February 2014), one or more persons snuck in a video camera past security guards and shot two very short videos of the Court while in session.  That person or persons uploaded the two short videos that eventually found its way on YouTube. No one knows how the “videographer” was able to do it.

But this was not the first time such a thing happened. Below are two pictures, taken surreptitiously, of the U.S. Supreme Court in session. The first picture, taken in 1932, was by a man who faked a broken arm. He sneaked the camera into his sling. This picture was taken in the old Courtroom of the Supreme Court — located in the Old Senate Chamber in the U.S. Capitol.

From left to right, the Justices would be: Owen Roberts, Pierce Butler, Louis Brandeis, Willis Van Devanter, Chief Justice Charles Evan Hughes, empty seat (McReynolds), George Sutherland, Harlan Fiske Stone, and Benjamin Cardozo

From left to right, the Justices would be:
Owen Roberts, Pierce Butler, Louis Brandeis, Willis Van Devanter, Chief Justice Charles Evan Hughes, empty seat (McReynolds), George Sutherland, Harlan Fiske Stone, and Benjamin Cardozo

Much less is known about the circumstances behind the second picture, taken in 1937. The Courtroom is different as the Court moved into their new (and present) building in 1935.

Hugo Black joined the Court in 1937, replacing Willis Van Devanter, which was the only change in the Court's personnel. I could not see Justice Black in this picture, so I suspect it was taken somewhere between January - May, 1937 prior to Van Devanter's retirement.

Hugo Black joined the Court in 1937, replacing Willis Van Devanter, which was the only change in the Court’s personnel. I could not see Justice Black in this picture, so I suspect it was taken somewhere between January – May, 1937, prior to Van Devanter’s retirement.

 

Play Ball!

Circa 1933, 1949, 1961:  Although the move to make Baseball’s Opening Day a national holiday has fizzled for now, it is still good that the season now begins. Here are a few highlights:

Grouch, Chico & Harpo Marx do a "Who's on first" routine with Lou Gehrig in Cleveland's ball park. The Marx Brothers were promoting a Night at the Opera.

Grouch, Chico & Harpo Marx do a “Who’s on first” routine with Lou Gehrig in Cleveland’s ball park. The Marx Brothers were promoting a Night at the Opera.

 

Marilyn Monroe joins the Cubs and White Sox at Comiskey Park in 1949.

Marilyn Monroe joins the Cubs and White Sox at Comiskey Park in 1949.

JFK throws out the first ball in 1961. Many famous politicians surround him.

JFK throws out the first ball in 1961. Many famous politicians surround him.