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Wrigley Field Centennial Celebration Kicks Off

By  Josh McGhee and Quinn Ford | April 23, 2014 8:53am | Updated on April 23, 2014 12:12pm

 Fans celebrated 100 years of Wrigley Field on Wednesday.
Wrigley Field Centennial Celebration Kicks Off
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CHICAGO — One hundred years ago today, Chicago said hello to the home of North Side baseball when the first game was played at the Friendly Confines.

Back then, thousands of fans piled into Weeghman Park to see the Chi-Feds take on the Kansas City Packers for the eighth game of the Federal League season.

Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs take on the Arizona Diamondbacks as the city celebrates the century between those two games at the ballpark at 1060 W. Addison St. with what some of have coined "the party of the century."

Katie Mueller brought her 3-year-old son J.T. out for Wednesday's game. It was his second visit to Wrigley Field — well technically his third.

"His first game, I was six months pregnant with him," Mueller said.

Mueller, who first came to Wrigley Field when she was 5, said she always has a good time at "the Friendly Confines."

"Just listening to Harry Caray, seeing the ivy grow ... there's always a good atmosphere," she said.

Standing outside the ballpark by the giant birthday cake commemorating the centennial anniversary, Patricia Payne, a season ticket holder, also rattled off some of her favorite memories of watching the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

She attended the first official night game on Aug. 9, 1988 — the first night game the day before had been rained out. She was at the doubleheader in 2003 when the Cubs clinched the division and fans rushed the field.

And of course, she couldn't forget when Cubs catcher Michael Barrett punched Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski in 2006. She still has that photo framed on her desk.

But her favorite memory, she said, was getting her dad's name on the scoreboard for his birthday.

"I'm there ready with the camera, and then my dad stood up saying 'Hey that's me! That's me! Look my name's up on the board!'" she recalled. "To see my dad's face ... to be able to do that for him was just amazing."

The centennial bash started bright and early at 7 a.m. at the closest bar to Wrigley, the Captain Morgan Club, with drinks, specialty food, giveaways and live music from the Robbie Gold Band, but the festivities will continue all day.

Diners can celebrate 100 years in gluttonous fashion with the 100-year Brat Dog, 12 inches of brat sliced down the center dressed in mustard, onion, neon green relish, tomato, celery salt, sports peppers and a pickle spear for $10.

As part of the celebration, the first 30,000 fans who arrive at Wrigley Field received a replica 1914 Chicago Federals jersey identical to the retro jerseys the team will wear Wednesday. The first 10,000 fans can also blow out the candles with birthday cake, compliments of Jewel-Osco.

Fans entering the ballpark took a trip back in time to that inaugural game in 1914 — when the Feds defeated the Packers 9-1 — with music, graphics and even broadcast elements from the time period.

Greeters were dressed in garb modeled from the fashions of 100 years ago, grounds crew members tended to the field in Weegham Park jackets, and the Northwestern University marching band was set to take the field as was customary on Opening Day.

As always, hope sprang eternal on Wednesday. Fans named their favorite Cubs players who have passed through Wrigley Field — Ryne Sandberg, Ernie Banks, Greg Maddux, Ron Santo — and all of them remained optimistic about a Cubs championship in the years to come.

Mueller said she was confident she'd soon be celebrating with her son.

"Within his lifetime," she said, holding the 3-year-old in her arms. "Absolutely. Absolutely. In probably about three or four years, I do think we'll win."

The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.