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10 Fast Facts About Wrigley Field

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Originally opened in 1914, Chicago's Wrigley Field—home of the Chicago Cubs—is the second oldest ballpark in America (second only to Boston's Fenway Park). So it's hardly surprising that the field, which was renamed after chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. (who bought the baseball club in 1918 and renamed the park in 1927) is steeped in history. Here are 10 things everyone ought to know about this jewel box park.

1. THE FAMOUS IVY BACKDROP WAS PLANTED IN 1937.

In 1937, Bill Veeck Jr., the son of the Cubs's president, planted ivy vines against the outfield wall. It was originally 350 Japanese bittersweet plants and 200 Boston ivy plants, but the Boston ivy eventually took over. If a ball gets lost in the ivy, it's considered a ground-rule double as long as the outfielder raises his hands to indicate that the ball is lost. If he doesn't, it's considered fair play.

2. THE SCOREBOARD HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE 1937, TOO.

The old-school scoreboard is also still manually operated. Despite its prominent placement, it has never been struck with a batted ball. Golfer Sam Snead teed off from home plate and hit it once, though.

3. THERE ARE RULES FOR HOME RUN BALLS.

A Cubs fan throws a home run ball back at Wrigley Field
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When a player for the Cubs hits a home run, the lucky fan who catches the ball doesn't take it home as a souvenir: tradition dictates that he or she return it to the player. (Cubs fans are thoughtful like that.) If it's a player on the opposing team who hits the tater, it will usually be promptly thrown back onto the field (even if the person who catches it is outside of the stadium).

4. WRIGLEY FIELD USED TO BE WEEGHMAN PARK.

Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley was an investor in the Cubs and kept increasing his shares, then eventually bought out Weeghman in 1918. He was full owner by 1921 and expanded the park in 1922.

5. LIGHTS WEREN'T ADDED TO WRIGLEY UNTIL 1988.

On August 8, 1988, Wrigley Field was lit up for the first time. They were scheduled to be added in the early 1940s, but one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, P.K. Wrigley donated 165 tons of steel to the war effort instead. The City of Chicago issued an ordinance against night games at Wrigley because the lights would be distracting to people that actually lived in the neighborhood, but the organization and the city came to an agreement in time for the 1988 season.

6. THE FIRST NIGHT GAME AT WRIGLEY FIELD GOT RAINED OUT.

The first night game was supposed to be against the Phillies, but it got rained out. While waiting on the rain delay, some of the Cubs took the opportunity to act out a scene from Bull Durham and played slip-and-slide on the tarp covering the field. The players who participated were fined $500 each.

7. IT'S ONE OF THE ONLY BALLPARKS WHERE NEIGHBORHOOD RESIDENTS CAN SIT ON THEIR ROOFS AND WATCH THE GAME.

Cubs fans sit on rooftops across from Wrigley Field in Chicago
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This wasn't really a problem for the Cubs organization until the 1990s, when owners of the apartments built bleachers on their roofs and started charging people to come watch the game from their stands. The owners of the apartments agreed to share some of the proceeds with the Cubs and the Cubs agreed not to block the view with a fence. The team's owners have also scooped up some of these apartment buildings for themselves on occasion.

8. THE BEARS PLAYED AT WRIGLEY FIELD FROM 1921 TO 1970.

They were called the Staleys for the first season, but then renamed themselves to coordinate with the Cubs.

9. HARRY CARAY'S FAMOUS SEVENTH-INNING STRETCH RENDITION OF "TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME" ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED.

While Harry Caray was still announcing for the White Sox, radio producer and broadcaster Jay Scott approached him about singing the song for the audience, but Caray declined. So, during one game, Scott turned the mikes on in the announcer's booth without telling Caray and a tradition was born—a tradition that Caray brought with him to Wrigley Field when he became the team's official broadcaster in 1982.

10. BABE RUTH'S FAMOUS CALLED SHOT HAPPENED AT WRIGLEY.

During the 1932 World Series, The Babe pointed to centerfield to indicate exactly where he was going to hammer the next ball. And he did. It's much argued among baseball fans as to whether Ruth actually called the shot or if he was pointing at the pitcher or simply gesturing toward the Cubs's bench. Whatever he did, he did it at Wrigley.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Steve Martin
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NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Is there anything Steve Martin can't do? In addition to being one of the world's most beloved comedians and actors, he's also a writer, a musician, a magician, and an art enthusiast. And he's about to put a number of these talents on display with Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, a new comedy special that just arrived on Netflix. To commemorate the occasion, here are 10 things you might not have known about Steve Martin.

1. HE WAS A CHEERLEADER.

As a yellleader (as he refers to it in a yearbook signature) at his high school in Garden Grove, California, Martin tried to make up his own cheers, but “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs,” he later told Newsweek, did not go over so well.

2. HIS FIRST JOB WAS AT DISNEYLAND.

Martin’s first-ever job was at Disneyland, which was located just two miles away from his house. He started out selling guidebooks, keeping $.02 for every book he sold. He graduated to the Magic Shop on Main Street, where he got his first taste of the gags that would later make his career. He also learned the rope tricks you see in ¡Three Amigos! from a rope wrangler over in Frontierland.

3. HE OWES HIS WRITING JOB WITH THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS TO AN EX-GIRLFRIEND.

Thanks to a girlfriend who got a job dancing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Martin landed a gig writing for the show. He had absolutely no experience as a writer at the time. He shared an office with Bob Einstein—better known to some as Super Dave Osborne or Marty Funkhauser—and won an Emmy for writing in 1969.

4. HE WAS A CONTESTANT ON THE DATING GAME.

While he was writing for the Smothers Brothers, but before he was famous in his own right, Martin was on an episode of The Dating Game. (Spoiler alert: He wins. But did you have any doubt?)

5. MANY PEOPLE THOUGHT HE WAS A SERIES REGULAR ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

Martin hosted and did guest spots on Saturday Night Live so often in the 1970s and '80s that many people thought he was a series regular. He wasn't. 

6. HIS FATHER WROTE A REVIEW OF HIS FIRST SNL APPEARANCE.

After his first appearance on SNL, Martin’s father, the president of the Newport Beach Association of Realtors, wrote a review of his son’s performance in the company newsletter. “His performance did nothing to further his career,” the elder Martin wrote. He also once told a newspaper, “I think Saturday Night Live is the most horrible thing on television.”

7. HE POPULARIZED THE AIR QUOTE.

If you find yourself making air quotes with your fingers more than you’d really like, you have Martin to thank. He popularized the gesture during his guest spots on SNL and stand-up performances.

8. HE QUIT STAND-UP COMEDY IN THE EARLY 1980S.

Martin gave up stand-up comedy in 1981. “I still had a few obligations left but I knew that I could not continue,” he told NPR in 2009. “But I guess I could have continued if I had nothing to go to, but I did have something to go to, which was movies. And you know, the act had become so known that in order to go back, I would have had to create an entirely new show, and I wasn't up to it, especially when the opportunity for movies and writing movies came around.”

9. HE'S A MAJOR ART COLLECTOR.

As an avid art collector, Martin owns works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Edward Hopper. He sold a Hopper for $26.9 million in 2006. Unfortunately, being rich and famous doesn’t mean Martin is immune to scams: In 2004, he spent about $850,000 on a piece believed to be by German-Dutch modernist painter Heinrich Campendonk. When Martin tried to sell the piece, “Landschaft mit Pferden” (or "Landscape With Horses") 15 months later, he was informed that it was a forgery. Though the painting still sold, it was at a huge loss.

10. HE'S AN ACCOMPLISHED BLUEGRASS PERFORMER.

Many people already know this, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that he’s an extremely accomplished bluegrass performer. With the help of high school friend John McEuen, who later became a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Martin taught himself to play the banjo when he was 17. He's been picking away ever since. If you see him on stage these days, he’s likely strumming a banjo with his band, the Steep Canyon Rangers. As seen above, they make delightful videos.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine
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by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of vino. Here, the author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma spills some of the best.

1. DIGITAL EYES ARE EVERYWHERE IN VINEYARDS.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like an army base—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. At $68,000 a pop, the Scancopter 450 is about twice as costly as a 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon!

2. THERE ARE ALSO LOTS OF COW SKULLS.

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. FEROCIOUS FOLIAGE IS A VINTNER’S FRIEND.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. WHAT A CANARY IS TO A COAL MINE, ROSES ARE TO A VINEYARD.

Vintners plant roses among their vines because they get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. VINTNERS EXPLOIT THE FOOD CHAIN.

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Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. THE BIG PROBLEMS IN TASTING ROOMS ARE VERY SMALL.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bugeating predators make for terrific fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. WINE NEEDS CLEANING.

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. ATOMS HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. FINE WINES GET MRIs.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. Not planning any $20,000 wine purchases? This is still good news for the consumer. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. THERE’S A TRICK TO AGING YOUR WINE.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

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