Chicago Cubs: A history of the beloved ‘W’ flag on the North Side

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

In 1919, the famous chewing gum entrepreneur William Wrigley Jr. Wrigley, before owning the Chicago Cubs or its stadium, was a businessman that had purchased Santa Catalina Island in Southern California from the Banning family who had made their fortune in the shipping industry. Kori Rumore of the Chicago Tribune reported:

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"“Part of the purchased package was a company that the previous owners had founded in 1884, Wilmington Transportation Co. … all of Wilmington’s vessels flew the white W on a dark blue background,” said Michele Bestudik, historian and film liaison for the Santa Catalina Island Co. Wilmington is a neighborhood along the harbor in Los Angeles."

In 1921, Wrigley purchased the Chicago Cubs and changed the name of the then-Weeghman Park to Cubs Park (in 1926 it was renamed Wrigley Field). Wrigley also changed the team’s headquarters for Spring Training to the newly purchased Catalina Island.

He used the ferries he had acquired to transport the team to Catalina Island and back for practices. The ferries still displayed the Wilmington flag, bearing the blue background and white ‘W’ flag. There are even pictures that show the flag painted on the steam engine smokestack. For the most part, Wrigley liked the flag. It was after all, the first letter of his famous last name and made for an easy transition to his legacy.

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