When Wrigley Field was built in 1914 for the short-lived Federal League, it was much smaller than it is today. The ballpark was built as a single-story grandstand with a seating capacity of 14,000. The Chicago Cubs moved into the park in 1916 from the West Side Grounds after the Federal League folded.
The team was only able to play in a stadium with a capacity of less than 20,000 for that long. In fact, when the Cubs won the 1918 pennant, their World Series home games were played at Comiskey Park due to the small capacity on the North Side. When William Wrigley Jr. became the majority owner of the team in 1921, he knew the park would need to be expanded.
In the 1922-1923 off-season, the Cubs hatched a unique plan to expand seating capacity. This plan did not include the addition of the upper deck, which was done in 1927 and 1928, but the 1922-1923 plan involved cutting the stands and moving them back a little. The original architect of the stadium, Zachary Taylor Davis, was hired for this project.
The grandstand was cut into three pieces like a big cake. There was the left field section, from the Waveland end to the middle of the third base line, the section behind home plate, and the right field section from the middle of the first base line to the Sheffield end.
After cutting the stands, two of the three sections were moved. The home plate section was pushed 60 feet west to the corner of Clark and Addison. The left field section was moved northwest to the corner of Clark and Waveland. (It is worth noting that Seminary Drive was still outside the left field bleachers that ran north-south.) The right field section was not moved, being the only section still in its original 1914 spot. sections were achieved by lifting the frames and then sliding the rollers underneath. An impressive feat for the early 1920s. You can see a picture of the cutaway grandstand here.
Once these sections were moved, there were huge gaps between each section. Those spaces were filled with additional seats, connecting the three sections and forming one larger grandstand. New front rows for boxes were also added from the foul pole to the foul pole. New bleachers were erected in the gardens in front of the brick wall that stood between 1914 and 2005. Note that the brick wall I am referring to was the wall that separated the park from the street, not the one that houses the ivy.
Because the grandstand moved, the diamond also moved. So, home plate is not in its original 1914 spot. The original location of home plate was in the first baseline area, around the current coaches’ infield. The original pitcher’s mound was just past where first base is today, with original first base near the east end of the visitors’ dugout, second base in current shallow right field, and third base between the current mound and the actual. second base. These are all rough estimates of the neighborhood.
This project was completed on Opening Day 1923. 100 years ago. This is an interesting part of Wrigley Field history that isn’t talked about as much as the additions of the iconic ivy, scoreboard, marquee, or lights. It was arguably the largest structural renovation of the park until the recent renovations in 2014-2019. So the next time you go to Wrigley Field and walk under the canopy, remember that the stadium section was originally 60 feet to the east when it was built in 1914.