Thursday, February 26, 2009

1981 Donruss: Wrigley Field

Almost every National League card in the Donruss 1981 set used a picture taken at Wrigley Field. I thought it would be fun to use the cards to take a look at the park as it was in 1980 (when most of the pictures were taken) and see how it has changed.

Crowd: or more accurately, a lack of crowds. As you can see from these three cards, there were lots of empty seats at Wrigley Field in 1980. The total attendance for the season was 1,202,776. That comes to an average of about 16,000 per game. By 1980 standards that wasn't too bad, especially since the team finished in last place. But those numbers pale in comparison to the over 40,000 per game they average today.

Scoreboard: There have been a couple of changes to the scoreboard since 1980. If you look carefully you see some red lines in the middle of the board. These were used to set off the Cubs game (National League on the left) and the Sox game (American League on the right). Today those red lines have been moved to the bottom and used only for the Cubs game. The Sox game is on the bottom, too, but it is not separated by red lines. Also there is no message board underneath the scoreboard. That was installed in 1982.

Wagon Gates: The gates were a reddish brown color. Today, they are green, and ads have been placed on two of them. The gate behind Eddie Solomon is no longer there, having been replaced by a see-through fence which allows people outside the park to peak in on a game. This was installed in 2006 when the bleachers were expanded.

Foul Lines right at the wall: This hasn't changed over the years but these cards give you a good look at just how close the right field line (left field, too) is to the side wall. They are within inches of each other. When a ball gets out there, its pretty much fair if it lands on the field and if it is foul it ends up in the stands. It also is very tricky for an outfielder going after a ball. They can't give up on a ball that they think is too close to the wall because it could still end up fair - which is a good reason for the pads on the brick.

Brown Ivy: This is something you see every year until mid May, when the ivy finally greens up. They also say that in late October the ivy turns red. Unfortunately, we haven't seen any games at Wrigley in late October (maybe this year!)

Budwiser House: There is a house acoss Waveland Avenue (left field) that has a red Budwiser ad painted on the roof. But for years the house had a white roof with an ad for WGN radio and TV You can see the white roof in both of these cards.

Astroturf: The closed off center field bleachers were covered with astroturf to give the hitters a better background. In the mid 1980's the astroturf was removed and the area was painted dark green. A few years later juniper bushes were placed there. Today most of the area is taken up by the batters eye restaurant.

No Baskets: Baskets were placed along the top of the walls in 1970 to keep fans from throwing trash and themselves onto the field. But the original baskets were only in areas where there were fans. The spots in the corners that had no seats also had no baskets, as you can see in these two cards. There were also no baskets in center field. Today, with the expanded bleachers, the baskets run all the way from foul pole to foul pole.

Tomorrow I will have my final post on the 1981 Donruss set. It will feature the sad story of one on the Cubs players from the set.


  1. great observations about Wrigley . . . i do find it interesting that so many 1991 Donruss cards depict Wrigley. Maybe the only good reason to have this set.

  2. I kinda miss the days of going to Wrigley and having the whole section to ourselves. I saw a picture a while ago and I think they painted the Bud roof blue and it says Drinkability now. I still miss the Toro sign too.

  3. Yea, it was nice on pretty much any day to walk up to the ticket window and buy a ticket and watch the game. I remember when opening up the upper deck during a weekday game was a big deal. Ahh, simpler times!