Illinois Flashback: Ski Jumping At Wrigley Field In 1944
By the way, in case you might be wondering, that image is not a fake or photoshopped, it's very real. That's a real guy really flying through the air, and he's really at Wrigley Field.
As long-time Cubs fans know, it's rare that we get athletic events at Wrigley Field in October, let alone January. But, back in the day, Cubs ownership was seemingly interested in experimenting with several different crowd-pleasing events that could be done in the off-season.
Like boxing, for example.
Over The Years, There Has Been More Than Baseball And Football (With The Occasional Hockey Game) At Wrigley Field
Today, in an effort to maximize the potential of the Federal landmark at 1060 W. Addison in Chicago, you can catch all sorts of different events at Wrigley Field. Cubs games, soccer games and tournaments, Winter Classic NHL hockey, and a variety of concerts. It seems they liked to keep the Wrigley ground crew busy back in the 40s, too.
The photo above shows Jack LaMotta (The Raging Bull) landing a blow to the midsection on Bob Satterfield in a 1946 title fight at Wrigley Field. That fight ended in the 7th round when LaMotta knocked out Satterfield.
The first concert ever held at Wrigley Field was an orchestra concert 100 years ago, in 1922. Lights were brought in, and a soundboard was placed in the infield. About 8000 people showed up.
Now, About That Wrigley Field Ski-Jumping Competition...
That guy with the shovel is Sgt. Torger Tokle, an American distance jumping champ from Brooklyn. He's helping pile the snow at the base, while workmen put the finishing touches on the slide built over home plate at Wrigley Field.
According to a piece at BleedCubbieBlue.com,
There were two events scheduled, preliminaries and championships, held on consecutive Sundays, January 23 and 30, 1944. It was sponsored by the Norge Ski Club of Cary, Illinois — an organization that still exists today, 75 years later. Per the Tribune, 6,387 attended on January 23 and 5,000 were at Wrigley for the finals January 30. Until the NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day 2009, those were the only sports events ever held in Wrigley in January.