With Wrigley Field bleachers in the news, check out this amazing home movie showing the Chicago Cubs home in 1937 or 1938, complete with ivy on the outfield wall and plenty of cigar smokers in the stands.
The footage was part of a family home-movie collection donated to the Chicago Film Archives, comprising some 93 reels of film shot between 1934 to 1978. The collection is humble: it’s just a series of looks at Chicago urban life, and a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field was part of that urban life. To say that this is amazing is an understatement: there’s nothing staged about the Wrigley Field proceedings, no artifice seen in newsreels of the era. It’s just a simple view from the stands from a game. The exact date of the game is in doubt; the film has been traced to a 1937 run, but it’s possible the film was manufactured in 1937 and shot in 1938.
The footage was shot by Jacob Glick, a Ukrainian immigrant born in 1898, who owned cigar shops around the city, including one in the old New Lawrence Hotel at Lawrence and Sheridan, where Glick’s son and daughter were born and raised.
“My father was a big Cubs fan, and all I remember, during the season, some of the Cubs players stayed in the hotel,” said daughter Diane Berolzheimer, now 83 and living in Evanston. “He went to every game he could.”
The black-and-white, silent Cubs footage is part of 93 reels— that’s more than 13,000 feet of film — donated to the Chicago Film Archives by Diane and her husband Karl Berolzheimer. Mostly shot on 16-millimeter film, the collection spans the years 1934 to 1978, and shows family life in the city.
It’s been identified by one viewer as the April 22, 1938 season opener, which seems likely; the ivy on the outfield wall does not seem to be mature (it was planted in September 1937 by Bill Veeck), and the players enter the field in a very ceremonial manner — certainly nothing you’d find in an ordinary game. Plus, the fact that Glick was filming the game would indicate it was an occasion of some sort. In any case, we’re sure someone more dogged will pursue a screencap or two of the scoreboard to determine the date.