As both of L.A.’s Major League Baseball teams find their footing in the new season, there’s one local bragging right worth remembering: Even though Chicago now has the Commissioner’s Trophy, Los Angeles had the original Wrigley Field.
The Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Angels—both owned by chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr.—played the first exhibition game of 1926 in a brand new L.A. stadium, Wrigley Field. The park, which stood on the corner of Avalon Boulevard and 41st Street, was built for $1.3 million and seated 30,000, which made it the largest ballpark west of Chicago.
Unlike most wood-framed baseball parks of the era, L.A.’s new Wrigley Field was built out of concrete and steel. One reporter quipped, “There isn’t enough wood in the whole building to make an umpire’s head.” L.A.’s Wrigley Field made use of several recent innovations, including elevators and ramps instead of traditional staircases. Its central 12-story tower, in the opinion of one reviewer, “looks like a pack of gum standing on end.”
Before the advent of regular air travel, a coast-to-coast league was infeasible. The year Wrigley Field was built, the westernmost National League team was in St. Louis. So, Wrigley’s L.A. Angels were part of the Pacific Coast League, which, though a “minor” league, featured such talents as Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.
The Chicago park now known as Wrigley Field was opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park, named after Charles A. Weeghman, owner of the resident Chicago Whales. It wouldn’t be called Wrigley Field for more than a decade—only after LA’s stadium had already been christened with that legendary name.
For what it’s worth, in that first game the Cubs ever played on Wrigley Field the home team won. L.A. beat Chicago handily, 5-2.