wrigley field is 100 years old today. when you think about it (and i may be the only person who does), that makes it older than the chrysler and empire state buildings, older than the lincoln and jefferson memorials, older than the golden gate bridge and the hoover dam, and older than mount rushmore. as public infrastructure/monuments go, not much else is older in the u.s.
but in today’s age of uniformly terrible sports mascots (youppi! notwithstanding), it’s worth remembering that things could be worse. because the cubs once used actual cubs for mascots. in 1914, an alaskan brown bear named cara maduro (third photo) was brought in, but later judged to be “too strong and determined in its ways to be among peaceable people.” because what are chicagoans but peaceable people (that’s al capone at wrigley in the fourth photo.)
so cara was placed in the lincoln zoo, and replaced with a bear who would go on to be shot in late 1915 for “escaping its crate and invading a tailoring factory and throwing thirty five girl employees into a panic,” as one newspaper put it. and by tailoring factory, they mean sweatshop. like, the kind where the building burns down with all the girls in it.
that bear would be replaced with joa, named after cubs owner j. ogden armour, a meat-packing magnate who served as the model for upton sinclair’s “the jungle,” a novel which exposed unsanitary practices and terrible working conditions in the meat packing industry. (armour, interestingly, would also serve as the model for cargill*.)
joa (second photo), who was made to live in a small cage outside of wrigley field for completely sober baseball fans not to taunt at, was also sold on to the lincoln zoo, but not before clawing several of the ball players. “and now you know …the rest of the story.”