LAKEVIEW — August 8 is a special date in Cubs history: The day the club (almost) played its first night game at Wrigley Field.
The North Siders made it through 3½ innings under the lights 28 years ago Monday before heavy rains interrupted play at the Friendly Confines. The Cubs technically played their first night game at home the next day, beating the first-place New York Mets.
But 8/8/88 is the date Cubs fans remember, according to Paul Hagen of MLB.com.
"Because that just might have been the most publicized, scrutinized, highly-anticipated, talked-about and written-about regular-season game ever," Hagen wrote three years ago.
The club first proposed installing lights at the historic ballpark in 1982, but neighborhood groups convinced lawmakers to pass legislation effectively banning night games, according to the Tribune. The Cubs, which were then owned by the paper, kept lobbying for lights and even hinted it might move to the suburbs if night games were still banned.
Eventually the city council passed a law allowing 18 night games per season at Wrigley Field.
The August matchup between the Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies was heavily hyped and sold out, with attendees including Mayor Eugene Sawyer, Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson, and baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, according to the Tribune.
Another guest? Actor Bill Murray, who opened the occasion on TV with Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Caray.
Murray used his airtime to plug "Scrooged," his 1988 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol ("it better be funny [or] there's going to be big trouble for me," Murray quipped). He also told Caray he was "dying under the lights" until he was handed a beer on air.
Murray opened the broadcast by saying he wasn't sure about night baseball at Wrigley, but quickly changed his mind by the end of the segment.
"It’s really beautiful," Murray said 28 years ago Monday. "It’s the most beautiful park in the world and it’s pretty under the lights, too. That’s what I was hoping."
Since 1988, the Cubs are 328-307 (.517) in Wrigley Field night games versus 854-805 (.515) in home day games, according to a team spokeswoman.
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