Chicago's Wrigley Field designated National Historic Landmark

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The home of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced the designation Thursday, saying the ballpark has played a significant role in the city of Chicago and the history of professional sports.

National Historic Landmarks are buildings, sites, districts, structures and objects that have been determined by the secretary of the interior to be nationally significant in American history and culture, federal officials said.

"The historical significance of Wrigley Field is interwoven into our nation's story and a key part of what has become America's beloved pastime for over a century," Bernhardt said.

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Built in 1914, Wrigley Field has been the home of the Chicago Cubs since 1916, a National League charter franchise dating to 1876, federal officials said. Two years younger than Fenway Park in Boston, Wrigley Field is the second oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball and the oldest in the National League, officials said.

Wrigley Field is the only remaining ballpark connected to the Federal Baseball League, the short-lived rival to the National and American Leagues. It also hosted the first tryouts and organization of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. And, it was home to the Chicago Bears from 1921 to 1970, one of the original franchises in the National Football League.

Several innovations in baseball history have their origins in the ballpark. In 1916, the original owner Charles Weeghman started the custom of permitting fans to keep balls hit into the stands as mementos. Wrigley Field was the first ballpark to have refreshment booths behind the stands, and the first to use an organ on-site to entertain fans during games. The Chicago Cubs were among the first to embrace broadcasting home games on radio in 1925 and on television in 1946.

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Many legendary events have taken place in the ballpark, including baseball's only "Double No-Hitter" in 1917, Babe Ruth's supposed "Called Shot" during the 1932 World Series and Gabby Hartnett's "Homer in the Gloamin'" that helped propel the Chicago Cubs to the 1938 National League pennant. It was also the location in 1933 of the first National Football League championship, the forerunner to today's Super Bowl.

Wrigley Field's ivy-covered, brick outfield wall and well-known bleachers behind it were constructed during renovations in 1937. The 27-foot-high outfield scoreboard was also added at that time. Other improvements include seating renovations, the addition of an upper deck, and the addition of lights for night games in 1988.

There are approximately 2,600 National Historic Landmarks in the United States, including Mount Vernon, Pearl Harbor, the Apollo Mission Control Center, Alcatraz and Martin Luther King's Birthplace.
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