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View Full Version : A look back at P. K. Wrigley from 1958


Fenway
02-27-2011, 03:44 PM
I am working on a Red Sox project but I stumbled across this fascinating look at the man who for better or worse shaped the Flubbies.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1002105/index.htm

cards press box
02-28-2011, 12:14 AM
I am working on a Red Sox project but I stumbled across this fascinating look at the man who for better or worse shaped the Flubbies.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1002105/index.htm

Fenway, if you are interested in reading more about the eccentric Mr. Wrigley, I would recommend George Castle's The Million-to-One Team: Why the Chicago Cubs Haven't Won a Pennant Since 1945. It's good read and it does examine how Mr. Wrigley's personality and the corporate culture at his company have shaped Cubs history.

SI1020
02-28-2011, 08:37 AM
That was a most interesting time capsule. I remember as a young kid how the Cubs even then marketed the ball park and not the team. After being an NL powerhouse for decades (even though they had trouble winning the WS) the Cubs came down with a loud thud in the two decades or so after WWII. Day baseball, the lack of a viable farm system, and being behind the curve in signing top level black talent really hurt them. Their record of futility post WWII is just staggering. To think that a city with two teams has produced two pennant winners and one WS championship in 65 baseball seasons is even more so.

Fenway
02-28-2011, 08:58 AM
Reading that you get the sense that PK was bitter he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

His logic for day baseball in the 50's actually made sense for Chicago in those days as the city was still a three shift town. You have to factor that back then prime time television kept a lot of people home at night - the Hawks had all kinds of problems drawing in the pre-Hull-Mikita era.

Even odder is that Jack Brickhouse was the home TV announcer for BOTH teams. I don't think the Cubs ever looked at the White Sox as competition at the gate as when the Cubs were home, the White Sox were on the road.

Growing up in Boston the only time I can remember seeing the Cubs on TV was in the winter as WGN had a nationally syndicated show that showed condensed baseball games in the off-season with Brickhouse as host.

It was interesting that he mentioned how Tom Yawkey had tried to BUY a championship and failed. Yawkey paid $250,000 for Joe Cronin after the 1934 season which was a LOT of money then.


That was a most interesting time capsule. I remember as a young kid how the Cubs even then marketed the ball park and not the team. After being an NL powerhouse for decades (even though they had trouble winning the WS) the Cubs came down with a loud thud in the two decades or so after WWII. Day baseball, the lack of a viable farm system, and being behind the curve in signing top level black talent really hurt them. Their record of futility post WWII is just staggering. To think that a city with two teams has produced two pennant winners and one WS championship in 65 baseball seasons is even more so.

SI1020
02-28-2011, 09:55 AM
It was interesting that he mentioned how Tom Yawkey had tried to BUY a championship and failed. Yawkey paid $250,000 for Joe Cronin after the 1934 season which was a LOT of money then. It's also interesting that he said he wouldn't take Leo Durocher even as a gift. Lots of good stuff in that article.

Fenway
02-28-2011, 10:00 AM
It's also interesting that he said he wouldn't take Leo Durocher even as a gift. Lots of good stuff in that article.

I loved how he would sit in the cheap seats and nobody knew who he was :tongue:

I NEVER saw Tom Yawkey mingle with the fans - he would sit in his box next to the broadcast booth and we would look at him like he was the pope.

LITTLE NELL
02-28-2011, 01:37 PM
That was a most interesting time capsule. I remember as a young kid how the Cubs even then marketed the ball park and not the team. After being an NL powerhouse for decades (even though they had trouble winning the WS) the Cubs came down with a loud thud in the two decades or so after WWII. Day baseball, the lack of a viable farm system, and being behind the curve in signing top level black talent really hurt them. Their record of futility post WWII is just staggering. To think that a city with two teams has produced two pennant winners and one WS championship in 65 baseball seasons is even more so.

I disagree on not signing black talent. They signed Ernie Banks in the early 50s along with a pretty good second baseman by the name of Gene Baker so they had a very good DP combo. Tony Taylor came along in 1958. They brought up George Altman for the 59 season and he was pretty good.
They probably had as many black players as any other team in the 50s.
The White Sox IIRC only had Minnie Minoso until they traded for Larry Doby in 1957. Al Smith came along in 1958 when they traded Minnie to the Indians. Earl Battey came up in 1959.
I don't think the Yankees had a black player until Elston Howard in 1957.
The Red Sox did not have a black player until 1959 when they brought up Pumpsie Green.

SI1020
02-28-2011, 02:29 PM
I disagree on not signing black talent. They signed Ernie Banks in the early 50s along with a pretty good second baseman by the name of Gene Baker so they had a very good DP combo. Tony Taylor came along in 1958. They brought up George Altman for the 59 season and he was pretty good.
They probably had as many black players as any other team in the 50s.
The White Sox IIRC only had Minnie Minoso until they traded for Larry Doby in 1957. Al Smith came along in 1958 when they traded Minnie to the Indians. Earl Battey came up in 1959.
I don't think the Yankees had a black player until Elston Howard in 1957.
The Red Sox did not have a black player until 1959 when they brought up Pumpsie Green. Good answer. I went and did a little bit better than cursory review of 1950's NL lineups. The NL definitely signed and played more black players in that decade. By 1956 the last place Cubs had Ernie Banks, a future HOFer, Gene Baker, who was pretty good for a few years and an aging Monte Irvin playing in his final season. The Cubs were the 8th team out of 16 to sign a black player, 4th in the NL, and that of course was Ernie Banks in 1953. They were definitely behind the Dodgers, Giants and Braves in signing top flight black talent, so yes I still think it was a factor in their post WWII demise, although maybe not a major one. As for the White Sox they more into signing and trading for latin players of whatever race. This seemed to be more true in the AL of that era. The 1950's White Sox featured Luis Aloma, Sandy Consuegra, Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparacio, Jungle Jim Rivera, and of course the great Minnie Minoso. The only other black player for the Sox in that time period that I can think of not on your list is this guy. He was decent for a few years.


http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/j/johnsco01.shtml

SI1020
02-28-2011, 02:59 PM
Oh what the hell. Let me make my argument that much weaker. I forgot all about this guy.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/j/jonessa02.shtml

Who pitched this game for the Cubs in 1955.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN195505120.shtml

Check out the attendance for the game.

LITTLE NELL
02-28-2011, 03:07 PM
Oh what the hell. Let me make my argument that much weaker. I forgot all about this guy.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/j/jonessa02.shtml

Who pitched this game for the Cubs in 1955.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN195505120.shtml

Check out the attendance for the game.

I remember watching the end of that game on TV when I got home from school.
I don't know how I forgot about Sad Sam.

By the way Jungle Jim was born in the USA in NYC so cannot really be classified as a Latino. His parents immigrated from Puerto Rico.
Have an autographed picture that Rivera gave to me when I was golf desk jockey at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf club. His accent was strictly NYC.

SI1020
02-28-2011, 03:11 PM
I remember watching that game on TV when I got home from school.
I don't know how I forgot about Sad Sam.

By the way Jungle Jim was born in the USA in NYC. Yes I know, but I included him in the catch all latin player category. Jim who as far as I know is still with us, is Puerto Rican. I believe his folks were born there. What a wonderful baseball eccentric, the likes of which you hardly see anymore in the game. More on this.

http://www.justonebadcentury.com/chicago_cubs_tales_09_8.asp

TheVulture
02-28-2011, 05:05 PM
By the way Jungle Jim was born in the USA in NYC so cannot really be classified as a Latino. His parents immigrated from Puerto Rico.

I don't know if you know this, but Puerto Rico is the good ol' USA, too.

LITTLE NELL
02-28-2011, 06:44 PM
I don't know if you know this, but Puerto Rico is the good ol' USA, too.

Been there about 15 times on cruises so I do know its history.

Puerto Ricans were not granted US citizenship until 1917 so if Rivera's parents came over before that they immigrated which was cited in Wikipedia.

DrCrawdad
02-28-2011, 08:46 PM
Good answer. I went and did a little bit better than cursory review of 1950's NL lineups. The NL definitely signed and played more black players in that decade. By 1956 the last place Cubs had Ernie Banks, a future HOFer, Gene Baker, who was pretty good for a few years and an aging Monte Irvin playing in his final season. The Cubs were the 8th team out of 16 to sign a black player, 4th in the NL, and that of course was Ernie Banks in 1953. They were definitely behind the Dodgers, Giants and Braves in signing top flight black talent, so yes I still think it was a factor in their post WWII demise, although maybe not a major one. As for the White Sox they more into signing and trading for latin players of whatever race. This seemed to be more true in the AL of that era. The 1950's White Sox featured Luis Aloma, Sandy Consuegra, Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparacio, Jungle Jim Rivera, and of course the great Minnie Minoso. The only other black player for the Sox in that time period that I can think of not on your list is this guy. He was decent for a few years.


http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/j/johnsco01.shtml


I disagree on not signing black talent. They signed Ernie Banks in the early 50s along with a pretty good second baseman by the name of Gene Baker so they had a very good DP combo. Tony Taylor came along in 1958. They brought up George Altman for the 59 season and he was pretty good.
They probably had as many black players as any other team in the 50s.
The White Sox IIRC only had Minnie Minoso until they traded for Larry Doby in 1957. Al Smith came along in 1958 when they traded Minnie to the Indians. Earl Battey came up in 1959.
I don't think the Yankees had a black player until Elston Howard in 1957.
The Red Sox did not have a black player until 1959 when they brought up Pumpsie Green.

The White Sox had the very first African American baseball player to play for a Chicago team. In July 1951 Sam Hairston (Jerry Hairston Sr's father) played for the Sox, albeit only for only about one month.


http://www.nlbpa.com/hairston_sam.jpg

FWIW Comiskey Park was the home to the annual Negro League All Star Game while at Wrigley African Americans were barred from attending games there until Jackie Robinson played there against the Cubs. Comiskey Park during Sox games was no bastion of interracial peace but I've seen pictures of White Sox games in the 1930's where there were African Americans in attendance.

WhiffleBall
03-01-2011, 09:15 AM
...while at Wrigley African Americans were barred from attending games there until Jackie Robinson played there against the Cubs.

Are you saying that African Americans were denied entry into Wrigley field until 1947? I find that very hard to believe.

Fenway
03-01-2011, 09:32 AM
Are you saying that African Americans were denied entry into Wrigley field until 1947? I find that very hard to believe.

First Negro League event at Wrigley Field was on May 24, 1942 with Kansas City playing an all white team led by Dizzy Dean - game drew 29,000. Monarchs with Satchel Paige pitching won 3-1.

DrCrawdad
03-01-2011, 09:50 AM
Are you saying that African Americans were denied entry into Wrigley field until 1947? I find that very hard to believe.

I've heard that from a couple sources. One was here at WSI. Lip posted a quote from Michael Wilbon that made that claim.

Fenway
03-01-2011, 10:05 AM
I've heard that from a couple sources. One was here at WSI. Lip posted a quote from Michael Wilbon that made that claim.

http://books.google.com/books?id=KLBV3O8uaQQC&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=negroes+wrigley+field&source=bl&ots=MtCoE-oBpq&sig=7iSm9LHX76R1Cej9yGvZGQEJoVo&hl=en&ei=bhZtTd7-KcfVgQefkIX0Aw&

I can't find anything that backs that up....however Wrigley made it very expensive for the Negro Leagues to rent Wrigley - Comiskey happily rented his park out.

What I never knew was the White sox gave Robinson a tryout THREE years before the well known Boston fiasco.

This is speculation on my part, but the black migration to Chicago in that era was mostly on the southside....the westside came much later and the northside near the lake there was almost no Black migration (with the exception of CHA projects like Cabrini-Green) until Washington became Mayor.

Gut feeling is Wrigley did not want to upset his neighbors back then.

That certainly was the case in East Rogers Park in the early 80's.

SI1020
03-01-2011, 11:28 AM
http://books.google.com/books?id=KLBV3O8uaQQC&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=negroes+wrigley+field&source=bl&ots=MtCoE-oBpq&sig=7iSm9LHX76R1Cej9yGvZGQEJoVo&hl=en&ei=bhZtTd7-KcfVgQefkIX0Aw&

I can't find anything that backs that up....however Wrigley made it very expensive for the Negro Leagues to rent Wrigley - Comiskey happily rented his park out.

What I never knew was the White sox gave Robinson a tryout THREE years before the well known Boston fiasco.

This is speculation on my part, but the black migration to Chicago in that era was mostly on the southside....the westside came much later and the northside near the lake there was almost no Black migration (with the exception of CHA projects like Cabrini-Green) until Washington became Mayor.

Gut feeling is Wrigley did not want to upset his neighbors back then.

That certainly was the case in East Rogers Park in the early 80's. I'm only speaking demographically and historically here. There was a small black community for generations around Leland and Broadway in the Uptown neighborhood. This was in the Stewart Elementary school attendance area. After the open housing demonstations led by MLK in 1966 blacks began moving into lakefront north side neighborhoods in greater numbers. Initially in Rogers Park on the far north side in the vicinity of Gale school, and near the newly opened (in 1964) McCutcheon school in Uptown. I lived in various apartments in Rogers Park and Edgewater in the 70's and early 80's and always had a diverse mixture of neighbors.

Fenway
03-01-2011, 11:33 AM
I'm only speaking demographically and historically here. There was a small black community for generations around Leland and Broadway in the Uptown neighborhood. This was in the Stewart Elementary school attendance area. After the open housing demonstations led by MLK in 1966 blacks began moving into lakefront north side neighborhoods in greater numbers. Initially in Rogers Park on the far north side in the vicinity of Gale school, and near the newly opened (in 1964) McCutcheon school in Uptown. I lived in various apartments in Rogers Park and Edgewater in the 70's and early 80's and always had a diverse mixture of neighbors.

The Jonquil Jungle comes to mind. I am curious on how Chicago got that little section instead of Evanston being north of Howard. The 'L tracks seem to be the divider.

DrCrawdad
03-01-2011, 12:43 PM
I should clarify, I meant that African Americans were not welcome at Wrigley during Cubs games at least not until Jackie R.