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Book review: 'Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs'

In honor of Wrigley Field’s 100th year, Ira Berkow has produced an unusual mix of narrative and oral history that honors the ballpark. And within the oral history, the book truly captures what’s special about Wrigley and the Cubs.
by Hayley Riggs McGhee Published: April 13, 2014
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“Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs” by Ira Berkow with contributions by Josh Noel (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 324 pages, in stores)

Wrigley Field, the iconic ballpark that is home to baseball’s Chicago Cubs, celebrates its 100th birthday on April 23.

In lieu of greeting cards, the old ballyard has a litany of writers penning odes to its wonders and quirks: the ivy that grows on its outfield walls, the bleachers crowd so unique and passionate that it once inspired a play, and the team on the field that has collapsed in such memorable and painful ways that it has become known mostly as a lovable loser.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Chicago native Ira Berkow gets into the mix with the nonfiction book “Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs.”

Berkow’s book is an unusual combination. First comes a historical narrative that’s much more about the Cubs than the ballpark. Berkow’s retelling of the Cubs’ history is not particularly memorable or original, and the personal memories of Wrigley that he sprinkles in feel like a bit of an intrusion.

What carries the narrative history is the photos that accompany it — they are big and plentiful, and as you look through them, the ballpark and its 100 years of inhabitants slowly come to life.

The heart of the book, though, is the collection of interviews with former players, managers and fans that makes up the oral narrative section.

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by Hayley Riggs McGhee
Assistant Sports Editor
Assistant Sports Editor Hayley Riggs McGhee has worked for The Oklahoman since 2005. She previously worked as a page designer/copy editor for the (Fort Smith, Ark.) Times Record and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas. She is a Roland...
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