Commemorating 25th anniversary of Wrigley's first night game

Commemorating 25th anniversary of Wrigley's first night game
August 8, 2013, 7:30 am
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Tony Andracki

Twenty-five years have gone by, but in some ways, nothing has changed for the Cubs.

They're still playing the Phillies on Aug. 8 and they're still in a battle with the city of Chicago and the Wrigleyville residents to help modernize Wrigley Field.

Today marks the 25-year anniversary of the Cubs' first night game, on the eighth day of the eighth month in '88. The Cubs were the last Major League Baseball team to install lights at the time.

The Aug. 8 game was rained out that year after three-and-a-half innings, so the first official night game actually came on Aug. 9, 1988.

But the rain didn't dampen the celebration that late summer evening, as 91-year-old Cubs fan Harry Grossman pushed the button to light up the night sky on 8-8-88.

"There were things we had never seen before," Ryne Sandberg, Cubs icon and second baseman at the time, said in an interview with CSN in 2008. "The scoreboard was lit up; it was a completely different look.

"On my first at-bat, I remember being announced, walked to home plate to a huge roar and thought, 'this is cool. It's pretty different.'"

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Mark Grace was in the midst of his rookie year at the time and was relieved to see the lights, if only to get a break from the low Chicago sun during the afternoon games.

"Oh, it was awesome," Grace said five years ago. "The good thing was...gosh, we didn't have those nasty shadows anymore once those lights got there."

Mr. Cub Ernie Banks and Hall of Famer Billy Williams threw out the first pitch while Harry Caray and Steve Stone were in the booth. Ron Santo was sitting in the first row with a couple friends and other celebrities -- such as Bill Murray -- were also in attendance for the monumental moment at The Friendly Confines.

"It was a different feel at Wrigley to see that," Santo said of the lights.

Bernard Hansen, the Chicago alderman at the time, fought a similar battle Craney Kenney and the Ricketts family are fighting right now, trying to get the Wrigleyville residents on board with modernizing the stadium.

To commemorate the 25-year anniversary, Comcast SportsNet ran a special during Cubs Pregame Live Thursday.

In the special, Hansen describes the process of getting the Wrigleyville residents to agree to playing games at night and how it helped the area grow to the prime piece of real estate it is today.

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There's also a special guest appearance by Morganna the Kissing Bandit, "baseball's unofficial mascot" during the '70s, '80s and early '90s in which she rushed the field and kissed iconic athletes. She tried to get her hands on Sandberg, but was intercepted before she got to the plate.

The whole ordeal must have been good luck, as Sandberg drilled the second pitch for a two-run homer in his first at-bat under the lights.