Before Wrigley Became Wrigley

The Inside Story of the First Years of the Cubs? Home Field

About The Book

Chicago’s Wrigley Field opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park, the new North Side stadium erected for use by the Federal League’s Chicago team, which would eventually be called the Whales. It was built in just 50 days, with an rectangular shape in the style of New York’s Polo Grounds, designed to fit the odd dimensions of the lot—which formerly housed a seminary school—that Whales owner “Lucky” Charley Weeghman had purchased with a 99-year lease at a little over $300,000. In all, it took $250,000 and a plenty of scrambling to build the park.

That seminal event is at the heart of Before Wrigley: The Inside Story of the First Years of the Cubs’ Home Field . The book will explore the early years of Wrigley Field, when it bore a different name and housed a different team. Sean Deveney has mined documents and resources from baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, as well as the Chicago History Museum, to supplement the reports in newspapers and magazines of the day, giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at origins and birth pangs of the park.

At the center of the Before Wrigley drama is a cast of typically colorful Chicago characters, particularly Weeghman, the young and flamboyant restaurant man who started out in the city as an $8-a-week waiter, eventually became a millionaire baseball magnate, and then lost everything. There’s tightwad owner Charles Murphy, who oversaw the Cubs’ early 20th century dynasty (yes, there was a Cubs dynasty), only to run off his famed infield of Tinkers, Evers and Chance, and be run out of the game himself. There are crooked baseball officials like Ban Johnson and Garry Herrmann, crooked politicians like mayor “Big Bill” Thompson, rogue ballplayers out to make a quick buck or two and, of course, the generally fair and hard-working citizens of Chicago.

Using careful and detailed research, incorporated into the bizarre and gripping narrative of the city, the game and the team in the mid-1910s, Before Wrigley gives Cubs’ fans a rollicking account of their beloved ballpark’s little-explored early days.

Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Sports Publishing imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in sports—books about baseball, pro football, college football, pro and college basketball, hockey, or soccer, we have a book about your sport or your team.

Whether you are a New York Yankees fan or hail from Red Sox nation; whether you are a die-hard Green Bay Packers or Dallas Cowboys fan; whether you root for the Kentucky Wildcats, Louisville Cardinals, UCLA Bruins, or Kansas Jayhawks; whether you route for the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, or Los Angeles Kings; we have a book for you. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to publishing books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked by other publishers and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

About The Author

Sean Deveney has been a writer and editor at Sporting News since 1999, covering all aspects of sports. He has authored four books, including The Original Curse, Facing Ted Williams, and Before Wrigley Became Wrigley.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Sports Publishing (April 1, 2014)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781613216750
  • Ages: 12 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

“This solid account of the early years of the Chicago Cubs’ beloved Wrigley Field will delight fans who have been looking for a World Series championship since 1908. . . . Deveney gives an excellent and thoroughly detailed account of the ‘winding path’ that led the Cubs to that piece of land.”— Publishers Weekly

“With Charlie Weeghman, the passionate but certainly flawed visionary at the center, the cast of characters (crooked politicians, ballplayers, officials) richly enliven this nuts-and-bolts tale of how deals were done and dreams were held together with spit and glue. Verdict: Compulsory for Chicago Cubs fans.”—Library Journal

“A fascinating historical tale...[T]he book really does read like a novel.”
-Bleacher Report

“Before Wrigley Became Wrigley proves once again the more things change in Chicago, the more they stay the same. Sean Deveney’s dogged research and eye for detail make this little-known tale of Chicago's two biggest vices—politics and the Cubs—a fascinating and timely read, particularly as the Jumbotron era approaches.” –Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, Cubs beat writer

“Remember when the Cubs played on the West Side of Chicago, and a new ballpark opened on the North Side for a Federal League team to put down its roots and challenge the status quo of the major leagues? Of course you don’t, because it was a hundred years ago. But the birth of baseball’s most hallowed—and maybe accursed—ground is a wild tale, and in Before Wrigley Became Wrigley, Sean Deveney chronicles how it happened, from a lunch-counter magnate taking on baseball’s big boys to the eventual, and at the time unthinkable, move of the Cubs to the corner of Clark and Addison. Baseball wouldn’t be the same without this story.” –Jesse Spector, Sporting News baseball insider

“Wrigley Field is an iconic stadium, perhaps the most well-known American sports arena in the world. In Before Wrigley Became Wrigley, Sean Deveney paints a picture of how Wrigley as we know it came into being—and how it nearly didn’t come into being at all. It is a must read for fans everywhere!” –David Kaplan, co-host of Cubs pregame and postgame shows, Comcast Sports Chicago

“In Before Wrigley Became Wrigley, Sean Deveney has a fascinating story about the origins the game’s most classic ballpark. Read it and you’ll understand how baseball’s early years shaped what is now Wrigley Field, which has endeared itself to fans as a reasonable stand-in for the Cubs (who apparently had their fill of World Series titles by the time the park opened).” –Steve Aschburner, Author, Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger

“Sean Deveney delves into a trove of historical documents to assemble an entertaining narrative of Chicago’s much loved sports venue against the background of corrupt city politics and a colorful ensemble of players, in and out of baseball (including the immortal Tinker, Evers, and Chance) presented decade by decade.” — The Daily Beast

“This is an immersive look back at the political intrigue—from the clubhouse to City Hall—that pitted the owners of the fledgling National and American leagues against the upstart American Association and Federal League. . . . [I]t’s an excellent read.” — Chicago Sun-Times

“This solid account of the early years of the Chicago Cubs’ beloved Wrigley Field will delight fans who have been looking for a World Series championship since 1908. . . . Deveney gives an excellent and thoroughly detailed account of the ‘winding path’ that led the Cubs to that piece of land.”— Publishers Weekly

“With Charlie Weeghman, the passionate but certainly flawed visionary at the center, the cast of characters (crooked politicians, ballplayers, officials) richly enliven this nuts-and-bolts tale of how deals were done and dreams were held together with spit and glue. Verdict: Compulsory for Chicago Cubs fans.”—Library Journal

“A fascinating historical tale...[T]he book really does read like a novel.”
-Bleacher Report

“Before Wrigley Became Wrigley proves once again the more things change in Chicago, the more they stay the same. Sean Deveney’s dogged research and eye for detail make this little-known tale of Chicago's two biggest vices—politics and the Cubs—a fascinating and timely read, particularly as the Jumbotron era approaches.” –Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, Cubs beat writer

“Remember when the Cubs played on the West Side of Chicago, and a new ballpark opened on the North Side for a Federal League team to put down its roots and challenge the status quo of the major leagues? Of course you don’t, because it was a hundred years ago. But the birth of baseball’s most hallowed—and maybe accursed—ground is a wild tale, and in Before Wrigley Became Wrigley, Sean Deveney chronicles how it happened, from a lunch-counter magnate taking on baseball’s big boys to the eventual, and at the time unthinkable, move of the Cubs to the corner of Clark and Addison. Baseball wouldn’t be the same without this story.” –Jesse Spector, Sporting News baseball insider

“Wrigley Field is an iconic stadium, perhaps the most well-known American sports arena in the world. In Before Wrigley Became Wrigley, Sean Deveney paints a picture of how Wrigley as we know it came into being—and how it nearly didn’t come into being at all. It is a must read for fans everywhere!” –David Kaplan, co-host of Cubs pregame and postgame shows, Comcast Sports Chicago

“In Before Wrigley Became Wrigley, Sean Deveney has a fascinating story about the origins the game’s most classic ballpark. Read it and you’ll understand how baseball’s early years shaped what is now Wrigley Field, which has endeared itself to fans as a reasonable stand-in for the Cubs (who apparently had their fill of World Series titles by the time the park opened).” –Steve Aschburner, Author, Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger

“Sean Deveney delves into a trove of historical documents to assemble an entertaining narrative of Chicago’s much loved sports venue against the background of corrupt city politics and a colorful ensemble of players, in and out of baseball (including the immortal Tinker, Evers, and Chance) presented decade by decade.” — The Daily Beast

“This is an immersive look back at the political intrigue—from the clubhouse to City Hall—that pitted the owners of the fledgling National and American leagues against the upstart American Association and Federal League. . . . [I]t’s an excellent read.” — Chicago Sun-Times

More books from this author: Sean Deveney