(NEXSTAR) – Though new sports and traditions have come along, it’s easy to argue that baseball remains America’s favorite pastime. From the unforgettable players and moments to the unique stadiums, there’s no doubting the history major league baseball holds in the U.S.
But only one stadium somewhat doubles as a member of the National Park Service. If you’re a Chicago Cubs fan or follow the MLB, you’ve most likely heard of Wrigley Field. Even if you don’t follow professional baseball, you probably know of the stadium and its iconic red sign.
Built in 1914, the field was originally called Weeghman Park and was meant to house Charles Weeghman’s Chicago Whales, members of the Federal League, NPS explains. According to the MLB, it cost roughly $250,000 to build the stadium (equivalent to nearly $7.6 million today), which had a seating capacity of 14,000.
After the 1915 season and the Federal League’s collapse, Weeghman bought the Cubs and brought the team to his stadium with the help of investors. Among those was William Wrigley, owner of the Wrigley chewing gum company. Weeghman later sold his interest in the Cubs to Wrigley and the stadium became known as Cubs Park. In 1926, it was renamed again, the NPS explains, this time after William Wrigley, Jr., to the name we know today: Wrigley Field.
In the 1930s, Wrigley Field got two of its most iconic features: the ivy-covered outfield wall and the manual scoreboard. The original vines were purchased and planted in September 1937 during renovations, according to the Cubs, and the scoreboard is still used today.
Wrigley Field isn’t only a beloved historic site for its physical features — it serves as the home of one of the most notable moments in MLB lore. During the third game of the 1932 World Series, as the Cubs faced the New York Yankees, the immortal Babe Ruth called his own home run. In the top of the fifth inning, down two strikes already at the plate, Ruth appeared to point toward center field. On the next pitch, as the National Baseball Hall of Fame recounts, Ruth sent the ball deep into Wrigley Field’s center field seats.
Though the Yankess would win that World Series, Wrigley Field went on to serve as the home for countless meaningful victories for Cubs fans, including multiple games during the 2016 World Series when the Cubs ended the longest world championship drought in North America (albeit at another park, seeing as Game 7 wasn’t held at Wrigley).
In the 1980s, Wrigley Field was also determined to be eligible for National Historic Landmark designation. “National Historic Landmarks (NHL) are historic properties that illustrate the heritage of the United States,” the NPS explains. There are more than 2,600 NHLs in the U.S., including Pearl Harbor, Alcatraz, and Martin Luther King’s Birthplace.
An NHL designation doesn’t mean a property is a federally-owned place or that you’ll see NPS rangers at the location. Instead, the NPS oversees the NHL program and may offer “various preservation actions but owners are not obligated to carry out these recommendations.” In 2020, Wrigley Field received its official designation as a National Historic Landmark by then-Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt. The designation gave its owners, the Ricketts family, access to federal income tax credits, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Bernhardt pointed to other historic events that have happened at Wrigley Field in his designation, including the Cubs being among the first to embrace broadcasting games, hosting the first National Football League championship in 1933 and the first tryouts for the All-American Girls Porfessional Baseball League.
Despite its designation, Wrigley Field isn’t the oldest MLB stadium. That title belongs to Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox, which was built in 1912. But, sorry Red Sox fans, you won’t find Fenway on the list of national historic landmarks — only Wrigley Field