Pella Steps Up to the Plate at Wrigley Field

Introducing the home run-resistant window.

As anyone who once played ball too close to the house can tell you, broken windows happen. And anyone who lives just outside Wrigley Field knows that every crack of the bat could send a baseball crashing into their living room. So when an opportunity arose to work with the Chicago Cubs and create a home run-resistant window from the Architect Series® Reserve™ line, Pella rose to the challenge.

It all started on May 5, 1996, when the Cubs’ six-time Silver Slugger Sammy Sosa stepped up to the plate and cranked a home run out of the park. At a speed of approximately 100 mph, the ball soared over the park’s left-field wall and shattered a nearby apartment window.

“That building is a bulls-eye for the batters ­ – they stand out there and take target practice at it – and sometimes...they break a few windows,” exclaimed Wrigleyville resident Ken Keefer.

“During batting practice, we’ll hear the balls pinging off the walls. We just sit there, praying a ball doesn’t fly through the window,” continued building resident Will Burke.

And when another window was shattered in that same building a few years later, Pella began to work with the Cubs for a window they could officially claim was “home run-resistant.”

The Pella team began by finding a window with the right historical styling to match the apartment’s exterior and Wrigleyville neighborhood. Pella’s Architect Series Reserve line offered the perfect match with the customization features that would accept stronger glass.

“First, we tested the exit velocity and launch angle off the bat,” explained Pella engineer Matt Waldren.“ Then, we calculated the vertical and horizontal distances as well as the impact velocity and impact angle at the window,” he continued.

The anatomy of a home run at Wrigley Field Chicago Illinois Pella home-run resistant windows

Pella’s engineers ran tests and created models to find the speed and trajectory of a baseball crashing through a window. Once all the calculations and simulations were finished, the team selected the appropriate glass type. Tempered, high-performance and noise-reducing glass was installed to deliver the right blend of durability and flexibility that would withstand blows from the league’s biggest hitters.

Pella’s hurricane cannon – which normally tests windows against flying debris – was retrofitted to test windows against home runs.

“Normally, we fire 2x4s out of this cannon – now we’re firing baseballs,” said Waldren.

hurricane shield testing on a hung window

A range of velocities were tested, from the 60 mph a ball travels when it hits a window to the 100 mph a ball travels when it leaves the bat. The window absorbed and repelled varying speeds and angles the hurricane cannon threw at it – declaring this window “home run-resistant.”

With problem-solving design infused into every window and door, few challenges are too great for a Pella solution. Such innovation made Pella’s window the official home run-resistant window of the Chicago Cubs.