A ‘‘No Women Admitted’’ sign in the press box at Wrigley Field that was intended to ‘‘illustrate and acknowledge’’ the past is history after some viewed it as tone-deaf.
The Cubs debuted a variety of new features at their home opener Monday, including an art collection of old press credentials in the stairway leading to the press box. One of the signs was a credential from 1945 that read: “No Women Admitted.’’
Many fans took to Twitter, calling the image insensitive. After the backlash, the Cubs removed it before the first pitch and replaced it with a photo of the bleachers from a ‘‘Pink Out’’ game. That picture later was switched out for an image of fans celebrating the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory outside Wrigley Field.
Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the intent of the image was to acknowledge how far society has come since 1945. He also said the Cubs didn’t mean to offend anyone with the picture, but he acknowledged it was in ‘‘poor form’’ for the team to put it on display without context.
‘‘No question, they would be viewed as offensive without context to understand the history,’’ Green told the Sun-Times. ‘‘And you can’t celebrate and acknowledge history at the expense of being insensitive.’’
Green couldn’t say who signed off on the art, which was installed late Sunday.
Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney recognized the image on an iPhone as the ‘‘Pink Poodle,’’ but he declined to comment on it, saying he couldn’t read the ‘‘No Women Admitted” text because he didn’t have his glasses. At Kenney’s request, the picture was emailed to him so he could read it before making a statement. Green responded on the Cubs’ behalf.
Green said the image was installed as part of the Cubs’ 1060 Project.
‘‘Throughout the ballpark, as we’ve been renovating it, we have used a number of historical images,’’ Green said. ‘‘Part of what we strive to do as part of this project is obviously illustrate and acknowledge the history while restoring and expanding the ballpark.’’
Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke was the first woman allowed in a major-league clubhouse. She received a credential from the Yankees for the final games of their regular season in 1977. One year later, U.S. District Judge Constance Baker Motley ordered Major League Baseball to allow women equal access in the clubhouses.
This is the latest public embarrassment for the Cubs in the last eight months. They have been heavily criticized for how they handled shortstop Addison Russell, who is serving a 40-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic-violence policy, and have been under fire after ownership patriarch Joe Ricketts’ racist emails were published by the website SplinterNews.com.
‘‘It goes without saying that this has probably been one of the most challenging offseasons that we’ve experienced,’’ Green said. ‘‘Certainly we have taken our fair share of criticism, and many times, I think, rightfully so. There’s no reason for us as an organization or franchise to take the focus off of baseball [and] the unifying aspects of sports.’’