Haunted Wrigley Field
A Brief Walk Down Halloween Lane
The seasons are changing, leaves are turning, it’s getting dark earlier, and the ghosts and goblins are coming out of storage. Change can make people do strange things and one of those things is Halloween.
2,000 years ago the Celts (people who lived mostly in what is now Ireland, Scotland, and France) held the festival of Samhin. During the festival, people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. Sounds familiar.
Then the Celts were conquered by the Romans. Also sounds familiar.
Over the ensuing 400 years, the Romans incorporated Samhin with some of their own festivals.
As the Roman Empire began its decline, Christianity began its rise to the top, some even say that Christianity may have been the cause of the decline, but that’s a story for another time. Either way, by the Eighth Century Christianity was doing pretty well for itself. And one denomination that was wielding a good amount of influence was Catholicism. The head of the Catholic church at the time was Pope Gregory III. Pope Gregory declared November 1, All Saints Day. The night before All Saints Day was called All Hallows Eve. Traditions from Samhin carried over and All Hallows Eve eventually became Halloween.
This developed into what we know today. A day for carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating, wearing costumes, and best of all, scary stories. So sit back, grab your flashlight and pull the blanket up tight, because you are soon to read about haunted Wrigley Field.
Wrigley Field opened in 1914 as Babe Ruth was making his debut with the Boston Red Sox. Although when the gates first opened it wasn’t called Wrigley Field it was called Weeghman Park. Weeghman doesn’t quite have the same ring as Wrigley, but at the time, Charles Weeghman owned a club called the Chicago Whales. The Whales were a part of an outlaw major league called the Federal League. The Whales needed a place to play, so Weeghman built a park and named it after himself. After the 1915 season, the Whales and the Federal League folded.
But Weeghamn wasn’t done with baseball. He formed a partnership with a man named William Wrigley Jr. They bought the Chicago Cubs and moved them into Weeghman Park. In 1918, Wrigley purchased a controlling interest in the Cubs. For a time the field was called Cubs Park and then in 1926, it was renamed Wrigley Field.
Little did Wrigley know that his field would become a haven for otherworldly activities.
A Man Named Grimm
Charlie Grimm was a first baseman who played for and managed the Cubs. He joined Chicago in 1925 and took over the managerial duties from Rogers Hornsby in 1932. Over a twenty year career, Grimm amassed a .290 average with 2, 299 hits. As manager of the Cubbies, Grimm had a 946 – 782 record with a .547 winning percentage. He also won three pennants and appeared in the ’32 World Series against the New York Yankees–the Yanks swept the series–which is possibly why Grimm can’t bring himself to leave Wrigley. He could still be trying to win the Series for the Cubs.
It has been reported by graveyard shift security guards that the Wrigley bullpen phones ring randomly. Legend has it that the phantom calls are Grimm making pitching changes from the afterlife. Also, guards have spotted his ghostly image pacing the halls and have heard their names being whispered from the darkness. One explanation for his inability to leave the grounds could be that his mortal remains are housed in a private box in left-center field. Or it could be that he is still trying to outduel Joe McCarthy. Possibly it could be both.
Either way, next time you visit Wrigley don’t be surprised to hear your name coming through from the other side.
A Songwriter Named Goodman
It is well-known that fans bring the ashes of loved ones and drop a bit of them in the ivy so the deceased may watch baseball for eternity. One such fan was Steve Goodman. Goodman was a well-known folk music singer/songwriter who penned the song “City of New Orleans”. The song was recorded by the likes of Arlo Guthrie, John Denver, Judy Collins, and Willie Nelson, who won a Grammy for his recording of the song in 1985. Also, Goodman was a Cubs super fan who wrote many songs about his team, which includes the song “Go, Cubs, Go”. “Go, Cubs, Go” is played and sung at the close of every Cubs home game.
Steve passed away from leukemia in 1984 and his last wish was to have his ashes spread at Wrigley, he wrote: “Let my ashes blow in a beautiful snow/From the prevailing 30 mile an hour southwest wind/When my last remains go flying over the left-field wall.” And so, the Cubs granted his last wish and his ashes were scattered on Wrigley Field. Since his remains were laid to rest at the field, fans have reported seeing his ghost sitting in the seats behind home plate enjoying the ballgame as he did in life.
A Sportscaster Named Caray
The first image that most people think of when they hear the name Harry Caray is those big, black-rimmed glasses. The second thing that they think of is Caray leading the fans in a boisterous rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch. But just in case the name Harry Caray doesn’t evoke these images here is a short background of the Mayor of Rush Street.
Caray was a sportscaster on radio and television for over fifty years. He started his career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1945 and worked there until 1970 (he also worked two years for the St. Louis Browns during this time). He then had a single season stay in Oakland, followed up with 11 years on the south side of Chicago with the White Sox. After over a decade, he moved to the north side, where he would finish out the remaining sixteen years of his career with the Cubs. He was beloved for his rollicking personality and is immortalized with a statue at Wrigley.
Caray died in 1998 but he hasn’t left. Workers and fans alike attest to seeing his ghost haunting the press box and nearby bleachers. Caray has also “come through” in the form of an unexplainable mist, inexplicable presence, and overwhelming feeling. Fans have attributed these mysterious sensations to Caray, who was well-known for interacting with the crowd. It looks as though death couldn’t even stop him from his fan relations.
Good Night and Sleep Tight
Is Wrigley haunted? It most surely is. As with any place that has been around for long enough, the ghosts of the past are ever-present. But, in the case of the Friendly Confines, these ghosts could be just a little more interactive…muahahahahaha!
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