Sports

Wrigley Field still lit on 30 year anniversary of 8/8/88

My first memory of sports was correctly betting my dad that the Giants would beat the Bills in Super Bowl XXV, also known as ?Wide Right.?


I didn?t watch that game, and to be honest, at that point I was a Cincinnatti fan by default because I was a second-grader at Iowa Valley elementary where I doubled as an orange and black tiger.


Obviously, little thought had gone into my selection of teams even though I happened to wonder into the hay day of Bengals fandom.


My first interactive memory of sports came more than 18 months later when the Twins hosted the Braves in game seven of the 1991 World Series and I watched with my mom as Jack Morris bested John Smoltz in the extra-inning duel that sealed my love for the great game.


Luckily, my family had roots in the Cubs universe firmly planted and I avoided becoming a Twins fan, or even worse, following in the footsteps of so many 80s babies and jumping on the Tomahawk Chop bandwagon that seemed to foster more fans nationally than in Atlanta thanks to owner Ted Turner and the WGN-like showing of Braves games on TBS.


Since I shared my sports timeline, you may be realizing that night time baseball has always been a Wrigley Field reality for me and many my age, but half the people walking the Earth recall a simpler time when games were ONLY played at 1:20 p.m. on the North Side of Chicago, although the Cubs did play a game at 6 p.m. against the Cardinals back on June 25, 1943, utilizing one of the longest daylight days of the calendar year.


 


The setup


Cubs legend Rick Sutcliffe was on the mound, Bill Murray, Brooks and Dunne and Alabama were just some of the 80s stars in the stands and 91-year-old Cub fan Harry Grossman was chosen to turn on the lights at 6:06 p.m. when he asked the crowd to say these words: ?Let there be lights!?


Greg Maddux told The Chicago Tribune, ?The first night game was very special. It got rained out and we slid on the tarp and all that, but just seeing Wrigley at night for the first time was very special.?


Everyone except Harry Caray was dressed in tuxedoes on the hot, humid night, something Steve Stone talked about to the Chicago Tribune at the time.


?I?ve had cooler nights. The good thing was as hot as it was, the humidity was in the 90-percent range.?


After falling behind 1-0 on a Phil Bradley homer onto Waveland in the first, Bill Murray was heard in the background of the WGN-TV booth screaming, ?Turn ?em off! Turn the dang lights off!? after joining Stone and Cubs legendary broadcaster Harry Caray in the WGN booth.


Murray had used his celebrity to obtain 25 tickets to the game, however, they were high up in right field with the trek reportedly leaving his mother exhausted before the rains began pelting his party in the face.


In the home half of the inning, Ryne Sandberg survived an attack by Morganna, the infamous ?kissing bandit? who had cornered both Pete Rose and Nolan Ryan during historic events.


Morganna was swept away by security, leaving Mark Grace jealous and Sandberg available to tie the game at 1-1 when he launched the second pitch he saw into Chicago?s early evening skyline for the historic four-bagger.


 


The rain


Of course after 74-plus years of day games, Mother Nature impeded the completion of the contest as lightning surrounded Wrigley in the fourth inning and the skies sent fans rushing for the stands.


?I thought the ballpark was going to blow down,? said then Cubs GM Jim Frey to the Chicago Tribune. ?I thought we could lose the lights, everything.?


 


The photo op


Once everyone decided the place wasn?t going to get blown to Oz, four Cubs, Jody Davis, Greg Maddux, Al Nipper and Les Lancaster decided to entertain the fans by using the field tarp as a make-shift slip-n-slide.


Maddux blamed his then-veteran catcher Davis during an interview with WGNTV.


?Jody started talking about, ?let?s go slide on the tarp?. I was young, I bit and you know that is what I remember about the first night game.?


Manager Don Zimmer fined each of the players $500 for the stunt, a price that was certainly worth it to Maddux who made $153,845,000 during his career.


 


8/9/88


The rain refused to stop and the game was called at 10:25 p.m. after a two-hour and ten minute delay.


The next night, the Cubs beat the Mets 6-4 in the first ?official? night game in Cub history, but everyone knows the ?first night game at Wrigley? happened on 8/8/88, 30 years ago today.


Now, don?t you feel old?


Go, Cubs, Go!