Chicago Cubs

Celebrating the 25-Year Anniversary of Wrigley Field Turning on the Lights

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 30: A view of the moon shining through the lights during the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 30, 2012 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images
Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2013

With a number of renovations set to be made to Wrigley Field in the offseason, today we take a look back at one of the first additions made to the historic field: lights.

Today marks the 25-year anniversary of the first time the lights were turned on at Wrigley, as Matt Snyder of CBSSports mentions. While that inaugural game actually wound up getting rained out, it was a significant moment in the history of the team and the legendary park, nonetheless.

Nothing beats a pregame show hosted by Harry Caray and comedian/Cubs fan Bill Murray, and that YouTube video is absolute gold right down to the 1980s-era commercials.

Much of that hype stemmed from the controversy of adding lights to begin with. It was an inevitable move, but day-time baseball at Wrigley Field was as much a part of its history as the center field scoreboard and ivy-covered walls at the time, and the move was not exactly received with open arms.

Roger Simon, a former Chicago Sun-Times writer who had since moved to the Baltimore Sun, famously said, "putting lights in Wrigley Field is like putting aluminum siding on the Sistine Chapel," according to Baseball's Greatest Quotations by Paul Dickson.

Amid that excitement and controversy, the game started off ominously for the North Siders, as Phillies lead-off hitter Phil Bradley hit a 2-2 pitch from Cubs starter Rick Sutcliffe over the left field bleachers and out onto Waveland Avenue.

The home run served as an immediate point in the column of those who were against adding lights, and someone could be heard yelling, "turn 'em off, turn the dang lights off," on the telecast as Bradley finished rounding the bases.

The lights would in fact be turned off sooner than expected, as the game was rained out after 3.5 innings, and the first official game under the lights did not occur until the next night.

That game resulted in a 6-4 Cubs win over the New York Mets, as Frank DiPino earned the victory in relief of Mike Bielecki. Sid Fernandez took the loss and Rich Gossage earned the save. Andre Dawson drove in a pair of runs, and a young Rafael Palmeiro went 3-for-4 with a triple.

Big changes are coming to Wrigley Field in the offseason, and not everyone has warmed up to that idea just yet, but when all is said and done we may well be celebrating those renovations in another 25 years down the road.

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