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On This Day: Cubs play at Weeghman Park for the first time, April 20, 1916

On This Day: Cubs play at Weeghman Park for the first time, April 20, 1916

David Brown
Weeghman Park under construction in 1914. From the Chicago Daily News collection.

The Cubs opened a season for the first time at Wrigley Field on this date in 1916. Of course, the ballpark was called something else in those days — Weeghman Park, named after club owner Charles Weeghman, who built it for the Chicago Whales of the Federal League. That league went belly up in 1915. The ballpark, which went through a "Cubs Park" phase from 1919-1926, wasn't renamed for new(ish) owner William M. Wrigley until 1927.

The Chicago Tribune's James Crusinberry wrote an amusing if wordy (although not for the day) preview of the events that included descriptions of a long automobile parade, concerns about potentially wet weather ruining spitballs and more than one reference to the ongoing Great War happening in Europe. Nobody apparently gave him the head's up about the pending appearance of a bear cub and a donkey, both of which also appeared in the pregame. The Cubs love to bring animals to the ballpark.

Here's the lede:

Whatever the Kaiser has to say to Woodrow Wilson today doesn't go on the north side in Chicago, because this is the day when the new Cubs have their grand home opening at Weeghman park, and all who live north of the Chicago river have a little fight of their own to settle with Garry Herrmann's tribe of Reds from Cincinnati. No one except the weather man has the power to quiet the baseball enthusiasm.
With every box seat sold and thousands turned away, and a gang of carpenters constructing a row of seats on the field in front of the stand, it looks as if Chicago's Cubs are to experience the greatest opening they ever had in Chicago. Indications are that the north side park will be packed to the limit of its capacity on its very first day as the home of the Cubs.

The Cubs fended off the horde from Cincy, winning 7-6 in 11 innings. The Cubs finished the season 67-87 under skipper Joe Tinker, who was replaced in the offseason. To give you an idea of what kind of game MLB produced in those days, the Cubs team ERA of 2.65 was just a hair above league average, and a total of 239 home runs were hit in the National League.