28 Years Ago Today: Cubs Play First Night Game at Wrigley Field

I remember it so well. Lights at Wrigley Field seemed so….wrong. I grew up watching day games every summer and I didn’t want anything to do with lights and night games.

Yet, there we were, with lights. The originally scheduled first night game was all set for August 8, 1988. The gods were rightly angered by the notion of night baseball at the last bastion of resistance, Wrigley Field, and, with the Cubs up 3-1 over the Phillies, rain poured from the sky in the fourth inning. That game was postponed.

The first official night game took place the following day, on August 9, 1988. The Cubs beat the New York Mets by the score of 6-4 (Box Score). The winning pitcher was Frank DiPino and Rich ‘Goose’ Gossage got the save.

The events that led up to lights at Wrigley were a bit disconcerting to most Cubs fans. It started when MLB Commissioner, Bowie Kuhn, announced in 1984 – the year the Cubs won the NL East – that the Cubs would lose home field advantage if they were to advance to the World Series, since World Series games were mostly played at night. The Cubs lost to the Padres, putting an end to any concerns about lights.

The following year, Peter Ueberroth took over as MLB Commissioner. He announced that the Cubs would have to play all future postseason games at another ballpark if they didn’t have lights. Things got so bad, that Cubs’ President Dallas Green actually threatened to move the team to the suburbs if the city of Chicago wouldn’t allow the team to install lights. It was obvious that momentum was building and eventually Wrigley Field would have to have lights (Wikipedia).

Interestingly, the city of Schaumburg, Illinois was so convinced that the Cubs were going to move to Schaumburg that they purchased land to build a baseball stadium. When the Cubs and the city of Chicago came to an agreement on lights, Schaumburg built a baseball stadium on that location anyway. That stadium, now called Boomers stadium, is where the Larry A. Pogofsky All-Star Challenge featuring former Cubs and White Sox players will be held on September 10th.

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