West Side Grounds, though no longer standing, remains an important part of baseball history, particularly for fans of the Chicago Cubs. This early 20th-century ballpark, located in Chicago, Illinois, was the scene of some of the most memorable moments in the Cubs’ storied history.
Stadium Facts about West Side Grounds
- Location: Chicago, Illinois
- Opened On: May 14, 1893
- Closed On: October 3, 1915
- Home Team: Chicago Cubs (then known as the Chicago White Stockings and later the Chicago Colts and Orphans)
- Stadium Nicknames: N/A
- Dimensions: Left Field – 340 feet, Center Field – 560 feet, Right Field – 316 feet
- Capacity: Approximately 16,000
- Attendance Record: Not available
- Surface: Grass
- Architect: Unknown
- Owner: Chicago Cubs franchise
West Side Grounds served as the home park for the Chicago Cubs from 1893 to 1915. During this era, it was one of the premier ballparks in Major League Baseball and a key site in the development of the modern game. The Cubs’ tenure at West Side Grounds included some of the most successful years in the team’s history, prior to their move to Wrigley Field in 1916.
The park’s closing marked the end of an era for the Cubs and the beginning of a new chapter at Wrigley Field. Despite its eventual demolition, West Side Grounds remains a cherished memory for many baseball historians and Cubs fans.
Design and Features
West Side Grounds was notable for its classic ballpark design, which included a single-tier grandstand and a covered pavilion. Its most distinctive feature was the incredibly deep center field, which was one of the longest in baseball history. This unique dimension created a challenging environment for hitters and led to some unusual plays.
The ballpark’s urban setting, surrounded by buildings and streets, gave it a cozy, neighborhood feel. Despite its limited capacity and lack of modern amenities, West Side Grounds had a charm and atmosphere that made it beloved by fans.
Throughout its existence, West Side Grounds underwent several renovations and updates to accommodate the growing popularity of baseball and the evolving needs of fans. These included expanding the seating capacity and improving the field and facilities.
However, the ballpark’s relatively small size and the limitations of its urban location eventually led to the decision to relocate the Cubs to a larger, more modern facility.
The facilities at West Side Grounds were typical of the ballparks of its era. The concessions were basic, offering traditional ballpark fare, and the seating, while not as comfortable as modern standards, provided fans with a close-up view of the game.
While it lacked the luxury suites and extensive amenities of newer ballparks, West Side Grounds was cherished for its history and the unique atmosphere it provided to baseball games.
Memorable Moments at West Side Grounds
- 1906, 1907, 1908 World Series: Hosting the Cubs during their legendary early 20th-century World Series runs.
- Tinker to Evers to Chance: The famous double-play combination that became synonymous with baseball excellence.
- First Merkle’s Boner Game: The infamous baserunning gaffe occurred here in 1908.
- Legendary Players: The park saw play by some of baseball’s early greats, including Mordecai Brown and Joe Tinker.
Interesting Baseball History at West Side Grounds
- Early Baseball Architecture: The park was a prime example of early baseball stadium design.
- Cubs’ Early Years: The venue witnessed the formation and rise of one of baseball’s most storied franchises.
- Changes in the Game: Reflecting the evolution of baseball from the 19th to the early 20th century.
- A Neighborhood Ballpark: Its location in a residential area contributed to its intimate atmosphere.
In addition to baseball, West Side Grounds hosted various other events, highlighting its status as a multi-purpose venue. These included political rallies, community events, and other sports activities. The versatility of the stadium as a venue for events beyond baseball underscored its importance in the community life of Chicago during its operation. The range of events held at West Side Grounds illustrated its role in the broader social and cultural landscape of the city at the time.