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BALL FIVE: First ever concession stand was in Wrigley

The next time you go to the ball park or stadium or even the next track meet and head to the concession stand, you can thank a fellow named Charles Weeghman.
Weeghman was the man who built what is now Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. It was not originally built for the Cubs. It was built for his Federal League team, the Chi-Feds.
Weeghman was a restauranteur and he soon noticed that the crowds at his team’s home games did not like the inference caused by the hawkers of popcorn, Cracker Jack, beer and red hots. They were loud and were an annoyance during the game. So Weeghman came up with the idea of building the first concession stand. It was a pretty good idea. If you go to a game at Wrigley Field nowadays, you will find no less than 63 concession stands.
He also started a tradition that was not part of the game. Back in the early 1900s, baseballs were considered valuable to the teams. When foul balls were hit into the stands, ushers and even policemen were sent to retrieve them. It became popular for the fans to play keep-away with the men charged with getting the baseballs back. Then one day Weeghman decided to just let the fans keep the baseballs.
He was truly a man before his time. He was the first to stress ballpark cleanliness and was a huge promoter of Ladies Day.
But the Chi-Feds would not last long. The Federal League was its way out by 1916 and Weegham, who had changed their name to the Whales by then, spent $500,000 to buy the National League Cubs and moved them to Weeghman Park.
Alas, Weeghman could not continue to be successful outside of baseball. By 1918 he needed money and sold the Cubs to chewing gum magnate William Wrigley.
Weeghman was gone from baseball, but he changed the game for the fans, and he changed it for the better.
I can’t forget to thank Bob Costas, John Schmoltz and MLB TV for getting this conversation started.