For almost 30 years, the Chicago Cubs trained on William Wrigley’s own private island in the Pacific Ocean. One of baseball’s most influential owners, Wrigley made his fortune in the chewing gum business and by 1921 he acquired controlling interest in both Catalina Island and the Cubs team. He combined his two passions, using the island as a spring training site and his team’s visits to publicize the island as a vacation paradise.
Located twenty-five miles off the coast of Los Angeles, Catalina Island provided a unique site for getting in shape for the new season. The team played inter-quad matches surrounded by the island’s rugged beauty. As part of their training regime, players hiked trails carved by the hooves of mountain goats through the rough, mountainous terrain. Regular steamboat service brought tourists, baseball fans and celebrities from the mainland. Baseball players shared the site and lodgings at the elegant Hotel St. Catherine with Hollywood filmmakers and stars for whom the island served as a recreational getaway and filming location.
This photograph captures Chicago Cubs players on a chilly spring day in 1928 – exercising on the crescent-shaped beach at Avalon Bay with the steamship pier in the background. The team’s newly built Country Club clubhouse and locker rooms, and a practice field constructed to the same dimensions as Wrigley Field, in Chicago were located within easy walking distance from the beach.