Photo of a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field at night.

Image Credit: Terren - Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Cincinnati Reds were the first Major League Baseball team to play night baseball when they hosted the Philadelphia Phillies at Crosley Field on May 24th, 1935. The Chicago Cubs, however, did not play their first night game at Wrigley Field until August 8th, 1988 (8/8/88) when they too hosted the Philadelphia Phillies. That was 29 years ago, today. Day baseball has long been a distinguishable tradition at Wrigley Field. Oddly enough, the Chicago Cubs recently lobbied for more night games to be held at Wrigley Field moving forward and the city is pushing back.

The first night game at Wrigley Field was an eventful and memorable evening. Rick Sutcliffe was the starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs that night. Billy Williams and Ernie Banks threw out the game’s honorary first pitch. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed before the game and Harry Caray hosted actor and lifelong Cubs fan Bill Murray in a pre-game interview.

The evening took a bizarre turn in the fourth inning when a downpour of rain halted the game. More than two hours later, the umpires called off the game; something they try their hardest not to do. The first full night game at Wrigley Field took place the very next night on August 9th, 1988, when the Cubs hosted the New York Mets.

Originally, Chicago City Council did not want to hold night games at Wrigley Field. But after years of public pressure and a lawsuit, they finally gave in and allowed the Cubs organization to install lights at Wrigley Field. Former Chicago Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley originally wanted to play night games at Wrigley Field and even purchased the lighting needed to do so. However, when World War II began, Wrigley donated the steel to the military. When the Tribune Co. purchased the Chicago Cubs in 1981, the idea of night games at Wrigley Field returned to the forefront. However, then Illinois Governor James Thompson banned night games at Wrigley Field in 1982 citing the games as a nuisance to the Wrigleyville neighborhood.

Moving forward, the Chicago City Council eventually allowed the Cubs to host 18 night games per season beginning in 1989. Beginning in 2004, the Chicago Cubs slowly began to add more night games to allow for Wrigley Field to host evening concerts and generate more revenue for a neighborhood protection plan for Wrigleyville. The Chicago Cubs held 35 night games during the 2015 Major League Baseball season. That number could grow in the near future to mirror the number of night games held by other Major League Baseball teams. Anyone that has attended a day game at Wrigley Field understands just how special the outing is.




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