For Virgil: A die-hard fan like no other.
“Holeee Cow!” was the celebratory shout of the immortal and beloved sports announcer, Harry Caray, whenever the Cubbies knocked one out of the park. If you grew up on the north side of Chicago, your summer wasn’t complete without watching the Cubs on TV or listening to the game on the radio. Although they lost more games than won, Chicago Cubs fans always bled blue, no matter what.
Wrigley Field on West Addison is one of the oldest neighborhood ballparks in the United States. When Wrigley first opened in 1914, it was called Weeghman Park and the Chicago Whales of the Federal League called it their home field. In 1915, the Federal League collapsed along with all of its teams. The following season, the Chicago Cubs played their first game, beating the Cincinnati Reds 7-6.; a game that’s considered one of greatest baseball games in history.
When the park went up for sale in 1921, chewing gum tycoon William Wrigley bought the team and ballpark, renaming it Wrigley Field six years later. For many years the Cubs seemed unstoppable, winning game after game. However, during the 1945 World Series, fate stepped in when Wrigley staff insulted a local businessman and his stinky pet goat.
In 1945, the Cubs were on the path to win the World Series against their rivals, the Detroit Tigers. It was game four and they were about to clinch the victory, when an uproar started in the seats. William Sianis, a local businessman, was asked to remove his pet goat, Murphy, from the stands after several fans had complained about odorous companion. As Sianis was being taken out, he declared loudly “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.”
The Cubs fell to Detroit that day and didn’t win another world series until 2016. For 71 years, the curse of the Billy Goat has been a part of Chicago’s supernatural lore. What most people don’t know about Wrigley Field, fan or not, is that a curse isn’t the only supernatural force that darkens Wrigley Field. This legendary ballpark is haunted.
Three famous ghosts are known to haunt this northside neighborhood ballpark. Several fans, and players, have reportedly come face to face with the ghosts that call Wrigley home. We’ll start with its beloved and longtime announcer, Harry Caray.
Harry came to Wrigley in 1981, replacing Jack Brickhouse, another legendary announcer. Harry had some big shoes to fill up in the broadcaster’s box and he filled them well. As announcer, he was known for his enthusiastic love of the cubs and his singing of, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” in the seventh Inning stretch. So, it should come as no surprise that Harry Caray has stayed at Wrigley many years after his death.
The ghost believed to be Harry Caray, has been encountered in the press box as well as the surrounding seats. Fans have remarked they feel a familiar presence near the press box as they watch the game. Others have reported seeing a strange mist in the press box. The thing that has sold people on the presence being Harry is hearing the words “holy cow,” whenever a Cub knocks one on to Waveland.
In 1984, a solemn ceremony was held on the field. Steve Goodman, a lifelong Cubs fan and musician who wrote several songs about the team, had died after battling leukemia and his ashes were being spread. Goodman never missed a game and that loyalty followed him beyond the grave. A ghostly figure, identified as Goodman, has been seen seated behind home plate. He is said to have a smile on his face as he slowly fades from view.
Lastly, the third ghost said to haunt the park is Charlie Grimm, the manager who led the Cubs to the 1932 World Series. Like superfan Goodman, Grimm’s ashes are interred in a private box in left center field. The night security guards are the ones that experience the ghost of Charlie Grimm and according to them, he is quite mischievous.
Not only has the ghost of Charlie Grimm been seen in the home team bullpen, he’s also been seen on the field. Grimm is known to play innocent pranks on the guards as they make their rounds. At night, the guards have reported hearing their names being called by an unseen person believed to be Charlie Grimm. This ghost is also believed to call the phone in the bullpen, stopping just short of someone answering. By farm Grimm is the phantom most experienced in the ballpark.
In 2016, the lovable losers (as they’ve been called) were no more. The team finally managed to break the curse by beating the Cleveland Indians in game 7 of the World Series. The thrilling game energized the city, and the W flag still flies. I will never forget watching that game and wishing my grandfather, a die-hard fan, had lived to see the victory.
The curse may be over, but the ghosts of Wrigley Field remain.
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