Wednesday, May 16, 2012
The Gems of Junk Wax, Pt. 33: 1989 Score #652 Wrigley Field HL
At around 7 o'clock tonight, I'll be tuning in to see the Cubs take on the Phillies at Wrigley Field.
Twenty-five years ago, that wouldn't have been possible.
As many baseball fans know, Wrigley Field was the last big-league ballpark to install lights, finally doing so in 1988. It must've been quite the scene, judging from the sold-out crowd shown in this shot. (36,399 people showed up, according to the back of the card.)
I've been to Wrigley on a decent amount of occasions, but I've never gotten to see a full night game there. Most of the games I've been to started during the evening and ended up finishing during the nighttime. But I have yet to witness an entire game under the lights at the hallowed ballpark.
It's one of my dreams as a baseball fan.
Since I grew up in an era where night baseball is pretty much taken for granted, it's mind-boggling to think that a team played every single game of the season during the day. I'm sure seeing a game under the lights must have been quite a shock for people that grew up during the predominately day game era of the '50s and '60s.
I love night baseball. I don't care if it's at Wrigley or Fenway or Coors. I love it all. (It doesn't hurt that the cards are awesome, too.)
It's one of the major reasons I dislike domed stadiums, but that's a topic for another post.
As much as I like the Rays, they've never played a true "night game" at Tropicana Field.
If this card looks familiar, it might be because I've shown it before. It was a part of one of the best deals a card show vendor has ever given me.
In a way, there were two "first night games" played at Wrigley.
The first was scheduled for August 8, 1988, against the Reds (who incidentally played the first-ever home night game in baseball history).
The crazy Chicago weather was in true form that night, wiping the game out with a thunderstorm in the fourth inning. Since it didn't go five, it didn't count.
On the next night, the Cubs and Mets met to play the first official night game in Wrigley Field history. The weather cooperated this time, and the Cubs beat the Mets on that fateful night by a final score of 6-4. (I'm not sure whether the picture on the front of the card is from the rained-out Reds game or the Mets game.)
A couple interesting footnotes from the back of this card:
First pitch at a Wrigley night game? Mike Bielecki.
First hit? Mark Grace.
First homer? Lenny "Nails" Dykstra.
I'm surprised it took me so long to secure a copy of this card for my collection. I didn't even know it existed until I found it a few months ago. Wrigley Field is the greatest venue in all of baseball, at least to me.
Night baseball made it even better.