8/8/88 revisited

Twenty years ago today was the first scheduled night game at Wrigley Field. Knowing the managers at Cubby Bear and being a totally and completely broke aspiring rock music drummer, I took a one-night only job as a bar back at Cubby for that momentous and festive evening.

Wrigley Field at night (in 2008)

In the weeks leading up to 8/8/88, I saw various stages of the delivery on flat bed trucks of the lighting trusses. I watched as a helicopter hovered over Wrigley as the dangling lights were lowered into place. I watched the park glow for the first few times as they lit up the night sky to test and aim the lighting.  I spent a lot of time in Wrigleyville in those days.

Then the big game came around with much fanfare and bubbly excitement. The neighborhood was teeming more than usual with plenty of folks recognizing a special event was taking place and wanted to be a part of it.  There were blue City of Chicago tow trucks dragging improperly parked cars away. I recall there was an enormous showing from the Chicago Police. These days, there are non-police “Public Safety” people managing traffic control but back then it was all full fledged Chicago Police officers doing crowd control outside the park. Once the game started and the rains came, dozens of police were congregated in the then backstage area of the Cubby Bear, huddled in their rain gear around a dedicated keg of beer for the exclusive use of Chicago’s Finest. Now I’m not saying I saw any uniformed, on-duty Chicago Police officer drinking beer from this keg, but it certainly would not do to have them buying beer out in the club with the public. But I digress.

Yes the rains came, inspiring a few Cubs players to entertain the crowd by turning the field tarp into a slip n’ slide.  I think it was future hall of famer Greg Maddux, along with Steve Trout and a few others that ran the bases ending with a belly flop slide into a splashy home plate, delighting the masses.  I didn’t personally see this either, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The game was called after a few innings, with all the stats washed out. But the memory stands and the 8/8/88 date will always be known as the first night game at Wrigley Field even though it was technically 8/9/88 according to official records.

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    August 8, 2008   Posted in: oldschool, on this date, Wrigley Field

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