This Week in Wrigley History (July 16–July 22)
July 16, 1916.
In the midst of their first year playing in this fancy new ballpark, the Chicago Cubs become the first team to allow their fans to keep the balls hit into the stands. That was the brainchild of their owner Charlie Weeghman (photo), who was a marketing visionary. It wasn’t long before the other teams in the league followed suit.
Imagine if that rule had never been instituted. Would it have made a difference on a certain date in 2003?
July 16: Elton John and Billy Joel take over the ballpark in 2009 and stage a memorable concert in front of a sold-out crowd.
July 17: The pennant bound Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies play a marathon 21-inning game on this day in 1918. Lefty Tyler pitches all 21 innings for the Cubs and Max Flack knocks in the game winner with his fifth hit of the game. Cubs second baseman Rollie Zeider goes 0 for 8.
July 18: In 1972, Billy Williams hits a walk off homer in the bottom of the tenth to win the game for the Cubs. Fergie Jenkins pitches all ten innings for the win. In 1986, Scott Sanderson and Lee Smith combine to pitch a one-hitter…In 2009, Rascal Flatts stages the first-ever country music concert in Wrigley Field.
July 19: In 1940, Claude Passeau gets hit by a pitch and retaliates by throwing his bat at the pitcher, former Cub Hugh Casey. He’s thrown out of the game but still gets the win, as the Cubs beat the Dodgers 11-4… In 1980, the Chicago Sting score seven goals and defeat the Tulsa Roughnecks.
July 20: In 1933, Babe Herman has biggest day ever as a Cub, clubbing three home runs in a 10-1 win over the Phillies. Herman personally accounts for eight of the ten runs… In 1966, Ernie Banks gets his 2000th career hit in a 5-4 loss. It’s a double against Reds pitcher Sammy Ellis.
July 21: In 1967 the Cubs win the game in the bottom of the twelfth, 5-4, thanks to an error by Hall of Fame first baseman Willie McCovey. Paul Popovich and Ron Santo each get three hits for the Cubs… In 1989, Dwight Smith sings the National Anthem before the game.
July 22: In 1977, Rick Reuschel tosses a five-hit shutout against the Atlanta Braves. Ivan de Jesus knocks in the only run of the game in the bottom of the seventh. The Cubs are in first place, with a three game lead over the Phillies.
July 22, 1986.
The Cubs make news when they fire a woman. Not just any woman…their ballgirl!
Her name was Marla Collins. While it’s true that Marla was a ballgirl, she wasn’t exactly a kid. She was “all grown up in all the right places” as Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray used to say. She dressed in a skimpy Cubs outfit and ran the balls out to the umpire, and Harry talked about her quite a bit. The cameramen at WGN also were known to focus their cameras on Marla more than they did for a typical ballgirl.
AUDIO: Harry talks about Marla
The result was that Marla became one of the most popular attractions in Wrigley. At the peak of her popularity, she was so famous that she got her own shoe contract. But on this day in 1986, Marla’s 15 minutes of fame came to a crashing end. That’s the day the Cubs discovered that their innocent young ballgirl Marla (whom Harry and the WGN cameramen had turned into a sex object for several seasons) had posed nude for Playboy.
The Cubs were shocked (SHOCKED!), and fired her immediately. She appeared in the September issue of Playboy, but she never again appeared in her cute little outfit on her cute little metal folding chair at Wrigley Field.
And she has never been adequately replaced.