Sept 21, 1888: Chicago's West Side Park

"Out of left field"

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - According to Mark Lamster's book, Spalding's World Tour, three Chicago White Stockings players (later known as the Cubs) were arrested on this date in 1888 for flirting with Mrs. Seth Blood, the proprietor of a "house" just beyond the wall at old West Side Park. Word of the "flirting" apparently got back to husband Seth, and the next thing you know the police started arresting people. What kind of "house" it was was never clarified.

West Side Park, or West Side Grounds, as it was sometimes referred to, was located near Cook County Hospital, just south of the Eisenhower Expressway on Chicago's west side. It was the site of the last Chicago Cubs World Series championship in 1908.

West Side Park is also said to be the origin of the saying "that came out of left field," meaning preposterous, irrational or crazy. As the story goes, just beyond the left field fence of the ball park in the early 1900's was a mental hospital called the Neuropsychiatric Institute. Irrational comments could be heard emanating from the insane asylum, as it was referred to at the time, hence the idiom, "that came out of left field."

Contributing sources:
Spalding's World Tour, by Mark Lamster, 2006, published by Public Affairs, New York
West Side Park
Chicago Sun-Times, April 2, 2006, by Mark Hoekstra

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