Trivial Sports Histories: 25 Years of Bright Lights at Wrigley Field

Trivial Sports Histories: 25 Years of Bright Lights at Wrigley Field
A sign from 1988 seen in a shop window in Wrigleyville, Chicago last year.

Today, August 8, the Chicago Cubs are out of town to play the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in what will probably be a drab display of late season baseball by two uninspired, under-performing teams.

Unlike the Phils, who won the World Series not so long ago just in 2008, the Cubs have hardly been a regular playoff contender. Instead the Cubs have been a centerpiece of jokes regarding their inability to reach the last game of the season.

In addition to lagging behind the rest of Major League Baseball teams in recent appearances in the World Series, the Cubs also have the distinction of being the last MLB ball club in North America to install lights in their home ground to allow for night baseball.

Nonetheless, today marks something a bit more than a nice day to play baseball for one of America's more storied baseball teams. It was 25 years ago today that on August 8, 1988, the Cubs unveiled their brand new stadium lights for the first time ever in a night game.

According to Matt Snyder's article on CBS Sports today, the rationale was clear: "This was done so under an MLB threat to not allow the Cubs to have any home playoff games unless the games were played at night."

Oddly enough, the lovable losers of Wrigley Field got to break in the lights a little harder the next season when the Cubs actually made the playoffs in 1989.

Word has it that there was some resistance from the locals in Wrigleyville, with some Cubs fans protesting the idea of night games at Wrigley Field as well as the quiet bullying of the Cubs by the power brokers at the top of the league. Still, history would see the Cubs though a few more inspirational --if not heartbreaking-- post-season appearances in 1993, 1998, 2003, and 2008.

Another coincidence is one perhaps planned intentionally by the schedule makers at Major League Baseball's corporate office. On August 8, 1988 the Chicago Cubs faced the Philadelphia Phillies at home.

 


Andy Frye writes about sports and life here, along with other publications. Follow on Twitter at @MySportsComplex.

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