And there was light at Wrigley

On August 8, 1988, the Chicago Cubs became the last major league team to add lights, allowing night games as they were assisted by 91-year-old fan, Harry Grossman who said, ““Three . . . two . . . one . . . Let there be lights!” before flipping the switch.

Wrigley Field was getting ready to be outfitted with lights in the fall of 1941. Instead the team donated the 165 tons of steel to the war effort after Perl Harbor was attacked. A year later, the crosstown rival White Sox refused to allow the Cubs the right to use their lights.

General manager, Dallas Green, proposed adding lights to Wrigley Field in 1982, allowing television networks to broadcast night games. Unhappy neighborhood residents convinced the Illinois General Assembly and Chicago City Council to pass a law prohibiting night games everywhere except Comiskey Park. The home the White Sox fell under a grandfather clause because lights had been there since 1939.

Rick Sutcliffe, who took the mound for the Cubs, was blinded by the lights for the first few pitches. Philadelphia Philadelphia Phillies hit a home run in his first at bat of the night. The Cubs led 3-1 in the fourth inning when the rain started to pour down, resulting in a no decision.

Video credit: Chicago Tribune on YouTube

The Cubs took 47 years to agree on the purchase of materials and installation of lights for Wrigley Field. The debates between the people, team and management drew on and the ‘winner’ seamed to change on a regular basis. Eventually, the dollar won, forcing the Cubs to install lights or forfeit any chance of hosting prime time, money making games including any playoff series the Cubs may be lucky enough to participate in.

Lights at Wrigley timeline


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