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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Memories of the 1st Wrigley nite game: Hoping for a wash out

Nineteen years ago on this date (the easy to remember 8-8-88), the Chicago Cubs were scheduled to face the Philadelphia Phillies in the first ever night baseball game at historic Wrigley Field. Although the house was packed with local glitterati basking in the glow of the newly mounted light standards, I was taking in the action on TV at a tavern across the street from the ballpark. As the crowd was eager to cheer on the succession of moonlit firsts taking place that night (pitch, out, hit, home run), my friends and I were rooting for a quite different outcome .... a rain out.

Kevin, a good friend and fellow Cubs fanatic, had been able to snag seats for the next evening's game, so if we could just coax the clouds to open up, we'd be witnessing the first official Wrigley night game on 8-9-88 (not as easy to remember, but we were being selfish). As it turned out, the rains did come (as forecast, for once) with the Cubs leading 3-1, but before the game had gone far enough to make it into the record books.

My favorite former play-by-play man Harry Caray used to always say, "wishing won't make it so!" But on this one night a group of committed Cubs fans (or at least ones deserving of being committed to the nearest mental hospital) were able to will a washout, and we were in attendance the next evening for the first official night game against the New York Mets.

Among the memorable moments of that night was seeing the opponent's centerfielder (Lenny Dykstra, if I recall correctly), getting a beer dumped on him as he leaped after a ball hit into the vines of the outfield wall. It was a bit of bad sportsmanship on the part of the hometown fans, but also a very fitting show of childish joy at someone else's expense, considering our own revelling in the misfortune of the previous night's crowd (and a good illustration of the concept of schadenfreude). Not a proud moment, but still one that makes me chuckle years later.
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