Al Capone once had front-row seats. Ronald Reagan dropped in by surprise while president. And Ferris Bueller made an encore appearance, so to speak, many years after catching a foul ball.

Wrigley Field is celebrating its 100th anniversary this season, with April 23 being the official day. It was named Weeghman Park when it opened in 1914. The Cubs re-named it Wrigley Field, in honor of team owner William Wrigley, the chewing gum czar, in 1927 when naming rights were a concept as foreign as lights at this ballpark.

Undoubtedly there will be plenty of discussion during the centennial festivities about some of baseball's best known moments, which happened to occur at the Friendly Confines:

The legend of Babe Ruth's called shot. The first night game in 1988 being rained out after 3 1/2 innings. Sammy Sosa's home runs ... and corked bat. Kerry Wood's strikeout record. Steve Bartman.

But part of Wrigley Field's unique charm is that it has compelling stories beyond baseball. A new book, Wrigley Field Year by Year: A Century at the Friendly Confines, written by Sam Pathy, provides a comprehensive chronicle of the wild and wacky in addition to the hardcore hardball history. Pathy, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, provides great details such as the team's decision in 1931 to have concession vendors dress in different color caps (peanut vendors in tan, ice cream men in white, cigar/cigarette sellers in black, etc.)

Here are some of the more notable nuggets, including a reason why the Curse of the Billy Goat, which supposedly hexed the Cubs from winning the World Series, might be bogus:

100 Years Of Wrigley Field: Al Capone, Ronald Reagan, Ferris Bueller And More Slideshow


1936: Mob City

The National League fined ballplayers $10 for on-field fraternizing with fans or with players of opposing teams. The issue arose when a newspaper photographer snapped Gabby Harnett chatting with gangster Al Capone at Wrigley Field.


1945: Billy Goat Curse?

Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, did bring a goat to Game Four of the World Series. The goat, named Murphy, had a legitimate ticket and did get into the park wearing a blanket that read, "We got Detroit's goat." As Sianis brought the goat to its seat -- seat 6, box 65, tier 12 -- Chief Usher Andy Frain threw Murphy out of the park. Sianis dropped off the goat at a nearby parking lot, paid $1 to store him during the game, and went inside to watch the action. Afterwards, Sianis said of the snub, "I'll sue for $100,000 -- no, I'll sue for a million." But outside of Sianis's threat to sue, there wasn't a contemporary reference to a curse placed on the Cubs. In fact, Will Leonard of the Chicago Tribune provided the first reference to a curse on December 26, 1967, twenty-two years after the incident. It's unlikely that Sianis, a rabid self-promoter, would keep quiet about his curse for over twenty years. It's unthinkable that the Chicago media of the 1950s and 1960s wouldn't latch on to it, especially since it coincided with some of the worst years in Cubs history.


1951: Ball Fore!

Golfer Sam Snead did what no ballplayer has come close to doing -- hit a ball over the Wrigley Field scoreboard. Of course, this ball was a golf ball. Snead, in town for an examination of a broken wrist, visited the ballpark before the Cubs opener. His first try, a four-iron, hit the scoreboard. The next shot, a two-iron, cleared with no problem. No word on whom or what he hit on Waveland Avenue.


1965: Bear On The Loose

On December 12, rookie Gale Sayers went wild, scoring six touchdowns to tie an NFL record in the Bears' 61-20 rout of the 49ers. First, Sayers scampered 80 yards on a screen pass from Rudy Bukich. Then he scored on runs of 21 yards, 7 yards, 50 yards, and 1 yard. In the fourth quarter, he returned a punt 85 yards for his final score. The 61 points were the most the Bears scored in a regular-season game to date.


1966: Can't Buy Me Wrigley

The Beatles played two shows at the International Amphitheater on August 12. Music producer Frank Fried confirmed that the group's first choice was Wrigley Field, but the team squelched the idea. During the band's tour this summer, they performed at Shea Stadium, Busch Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Candlestick Park, Crosley Field, Cleveland Municipal Stadium and DC Stadium. But not Wrigley Field!


1982: Adding Sex Appeal

The Cubs hired a ballgirl. Marla Collins, twenty-four years old, sat on the field between the backstop and the first base dugout. She shagged fouls and supplied the umpires with baseballs. Collins wore a Cub uniform that, during suitable weather, included short pants. She made $150 per game.


1988: One From The Gipper

September 30 -- The surprise visit of President Ronald Reagan produced historical intrigue. Reagan, in town to support Vice President George H.W. Bush's presidential campaign, threw out the first pitch and called an inning-and-a-half of television play-by-play with Harry Caray. Few fans realized what was going on, especially when workers hung tarps on the ramps to screen the president's path from the Cubs dugout to the press box. Reagan's visit marked the first presidential visit to Wrigley Field and the first to a Cub game since William Howard Taft came to West Side Grounds in 1909.


1993: Man Of The People

During a game on July 7, WGN-TV cameras caught Reds pitcher Tom Browning on the roof of 3643 Sheffield Avenue in full uniform, hobnobbing with fans and waving to his teammates in the Reds bullpen. Browning, who pitched a perfect game in 1988, claimed to get more fan interest about his Sheffield Avenue escapade than about his pitching gem.


1994: Local Hero

Opening Day, April 4. First Lady Hillary Clinton threw out the first pitch. She also sang the seventh-inning stretch with Harry Caray (who planted a kiss on her cheek). Olympic speed skater Bonnie Blair was also honored before the game, receiving a gold bat from Ernie Banks.


2009: The Frozen Confines

On January 1, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings brought in the New Year with the second annual "Winter Classic" hockey game. The Red Wings won, 6-4. The score hardly mattered. For the largest American television hockey audience in 34 years and the 40,818 who witnessed it live, the atmosphere was unique. Competing outdoors reminded the players of skating on frozen ponds of their youth. The Red Wings' Chris Chelios said he "never wanted it to end."


2010: School Spirit

To increase their season-ticket base, the Northwestern University football team hosted Illinois on Nov. 20. The game marked the first football contest at Wrigley Field since the Bears played there in 1970 and the first college football game since a DePaul-St. Louis game in 1938. The grounds crew laid the field from the third base dugout to right field. But it was tight. So tight that the right field end zone ended only a foot from the outfield wall and workers affixed the goal post to the bleacher wall. Even though pads protected the players from the brick, a day before the game, Big Ten officials deemed it dangerous and ordered teams to run all their offensive plays in one direction, away from the right field wall. Historians and 41,058 watching couldn't recall a college football game ever played under these rules.


2011: Save Ferris -- Again

With no postseason baseball at Wrigley Field again this year, on October 1, the Cubs and screened "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" at the ballpark. The twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of the iconic movie, which includes a scene where Ferris catches a foul ball at Wrigley Field, attracted a sellout crowd of about 10,000.

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-- Caption text is excerpted by permission from Wrigley Field Year by Year: A Century at the Friendly Confines by Sam Pathy. Copyright (c) 2014 by Sam Pathy. Published by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Available for purchase from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.