Season Two Episode 3

The Lights Of Wrigleyville

When the Tribune Company bought the Chicago Cubs in 1981, its executives saw nighttime baseball as a way to turn around the club’s fortunes. The only problem? Scores of Wrigleyville residents were ready to fight against it. This is the story of the decades-long wait to bring lights to Wrigley Field, and a battle pitting a giant media conglomerate against a scrappy neighborhood. Duration: 49mins

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Transcript

 

JODY AVIRGAN:  From ESPN Films and ESPN Audio, you’re listening to 30 For 30 Podcasts, presented by the Mini Countryman.

 

This week, we bring you an epic battle from the corner of Clark and Addison in Chicago.  For 40 years, Wrigley Field was the only Major League baseball park without lights.  Every single game was played during the day,that is, until a battle pitting MLB and big business against a well-organized neighborhood put the business of baseball in the spotlight. Longtime Cubs Public Address Announcer, Wayne Messmer narrates our story: “The Lights of Wrigleyville.”

 

 

  

[MLB, “This Year in Baseball: 1988 Year in Review”

 

MEL ALLEN:  ’Twas in the beginning, a place forever known as the Kingdom of Chicago, and it did bear the many bountiful fruits of the lords of Wrigley]

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: The first time I saw Wrigley Field was a beautiful summer day in 1969, came into town on a rickety old Park District school bus.  As we walked in and went up the ramp everything was so spectacular.

 

[MEL ALLEN: Then the lords of Wrigley said, ‘Let there be natural grass,’ and there was.]

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: It reminded me of watching The Wizard of Oz at a friend’s house who had a color TV.  I had seen the world in black-and-white until the moment that they get to OZ and it turns to color.

 

[MEL ALLEN: And the lords of Wrigley said, ‘Let there be ivy-covered walls,’ and there were.]

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: Wrigley Field turned into OZ. The ivy was greener and the blues were bluer. It was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen.

 

[MEL ALLEN: And the lords of Wrigley said, ‘Playeth only by the light of day,’ and they did. How about that?]

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: As Ernie Banks said:

 

[Press Conference, Cubs Opening Day, 2008

 

ERNIE BANKS: “I played all my home games under one light and that’s God’s lights.”]

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: And for baseball Wrigley Field under God’s own light is something very, very magical.  There was a reason to fight for that, and why day baseball is still the best way to see the greatest game.

 

[Announcer, Chicago Cubs Game

 

JACK BRICKHOUSE: The Chicago Cubs are on the air!

 

1908 version of “Take Me Out To the Ballgame]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Back in 1983, the Chicago Cubs were known for two things — day baseball and losing.  They’d been one of the crappiest franchises in baseball for decades.  The team’s fiery new manager, Lee Elia,  was desperate to turn things around.

 

NED COLLETTI: Lee Elia. Yes sir.

 

LEE ELIA: 1983. Yeah, that didn’t start out too good.

 

NED COLLETTI: It was a Friday afternoon, kind of a dreary day.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: On April 29th, the Cubs played the Dodgers. Just 9,391 on hand at Wrigley.

 

LEE ELIA: And we lose on a Lee Smith wild pitch. I don’t think he’s ever thrown a wild pitch before in his life.

 

NED COLLETTI: So we’re 5-14.

 

LEE ELIA: And we’re walkin’ off the field and all of a sudden somebody said something, I know what it was but I’m not gonna repeat it, to Keith Moreland.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Moreland and Larry Bowa were hearing it from some bozos along the third-base line.

 

BOB IBACH: And they threw beer at ‘em and called them names. Well Bowa, who’s a fiery son-of-a-gun, and Moreland, who wouldn’t take crap off anybody, jumped the tarp.

 

LEE ELIA: We get in the stands and they’re throwing punches.  So I get up in there pulling one guy off and then the cops came and they broke it up and we went inside. I wasn’t really in a good mood at that moment.

 

[Cubs/Dodgers Post-Game Press Conference, April 1983

 

LEE ELIA: They’re really, really behind you around here.  My fuckin’ ass!  What the fuck am I supposed to do, go out and get my players get destroyed every day and be quiet about it, for the fuckin’ nickel-dime people who show up?]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: This was the mother of all rants.

 

STUART SHEA: My brothers and I can recite the entire thing.  It is gospel in our family.  

 

[LEE ELIA/STUART SHEA (reciting Elia rant): The motherfuckers don’t even work.  That’s why they’re out here at the fuckin’ game.  They ought to go out and get a fuckin’ job and find out what it’s like to go out there and make a fuckin’ livin’. Eighty-five percent of the fuckin’ world’s workin’, the other fifteen come out here. It’s a fuckin’ playground for the cocksuckers.]

 

JERRY PRITIKIN: I hardly ever worked, so I was in the 15% he was talking about.

 

NED COLLETTI: It was a flashpoint.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The nadir. The Lovable Losers shtick was starting to wear thin.

 

[LEE ELIA: Rip them motherfuckers, rip them country cocksuckers like the fuckin’ players. Because if they’re the real Chicago fuckin’ fans, they can kiss my fuckin’ ass right downtown and print it.]

 

STUART SHEA: It really sort of summed up what the Cubs were like at that time. They were just in a hole that they felt like they could never get out of.

 

[LEE ELIA: It’s unbelievable, it really is. It’s a disheartening fuckin’ situation we’re in right now.]

 

LEE ELIA: But I want you to really understand this, ‘cos I just turned 80; I don’t have long (laughs). I meant the people that we were in the fight with. Not the beautiful people that come out to the ballpark every day. Where else do you find better fans than in Chicago?

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Lee Elia just wanted to win. But winning hadn’t been a priority at Wrigley Field for half a century.

 

[Vintage Wrigley Gum Ad

Singers: Relax, just relax, and chew Wrigley’s spearmint gum…]

 

WAYNE MESSMER:  In 1932, P.K. Wrigley inherited the Cubs — and Wrigley Field — from his dad, William. The Cubs were just one part of the family business.  The other?  Serving as the world’s biggest seller of delicious chewing gum.

 

BETH MURPHY: He wasn’t a baseball guy.  I don’t think he even liked baseball.

 

STUART SHEA: But what he did know about was marketing and advertising and promotion.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: In the 1930s, P.K.’s right hand man was the legendary Bill Veeck. Veeck is best known as a two-time owner of the Chicago White Sox — but he started his baseball career with the Cubs. Veeck was the genius responsible for Wrigley’s iconic scoreboard and the ivy on the outfield walls. He had a radical suggestion for P.K., which he described in an interview in 1985, shortly before he died.

 

[Bill Veeck Interview, 1984

 

BILL VEECK: Starting in 1934 each year I would submit a plan for lights.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Back then, no Major League Team played night games. The Cubs could have been the first.

 

[BILL VEECK: Wrigley said no, I don’t want lights]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And in May of 1935, the Reds beat the Cubs to it.

 

[Vintage Cincinnati Reds Game Broadcast

 

ANNOUNCER: It’s time for the Cincinnati Reds.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: and played the first Major League night game at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

 

[ANNOUNCER: and now, here’s baseball]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: One by one, the other Major League teams installed lights in their ballparks.

 

[Bill Veeck Interview, 1984

 

BILL VEECK: And each year I would propose another plan. I had worked out so, hydraulically, the lights would come out lighted and then go up and lock in place. After the game they woulda’ gone back down. Everybody woulda’ come to see the lights going up and down. Nope.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER:  In 1941, P.K. relented and ordered materials to install lights, but only so the team could finish day games that ran into the twilight hours. No inning would start after 8:00 p.m. The lights were a go for the 1942 season, until…

 

[Newsreel, 1941

 

ANNOUNCER: Flash. Washington. The White House announces Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Stuart Shea is a diehard Cubs fan and baseball historian.

 

STUART SHEA: As soon as Pearl Harbor was announced Wrigley said, “Nope, forget it. Give all that steel to the War Department.”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And by 1948, all major league teams were playing under the lights, all except the Cubs.

 

[Old News Piece

 

VOICE OVER: And now we take you to beautiful Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs. Owner, Wrigley, is justly proud of this ballpark.]

 

[NBC News, News Piece on Wrigley Field

 

REPORTER: Wrigley admitted he did not know much about baseball but he believed baseball was meant to be played under the sun. And in his ballpark, where there have never been lights; it still is.]

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: It was a ballpark in blend with its neighborhood.

 

NED COLLETTI: It’s not like it’s in the horizon and as you get closer it gets larger.  No. suddenly you turn a corner and BOOM, Wrigley Field.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: Only at Wrigley Field could someone hit a home run and break someone’s window. It was different.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: In 1955, P.K. said, ‘It’s a matter of public responsibility. How can anybody sleep with a loudspeaker going, thousands of people hollering and cars being parked all over their yards?  All you’d need is a louse like me to put in lights and it would wreck things.”

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: It’s so densely populated, it wouldn’t be safe.

 

STUART SHEA:  “Nighttime, you could get mugged. You never know what would happen in the night.”

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: And he had the best spokesman, Ernie Banks.

 

[Ernie Banks Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Speech, 1977

 

ERNIE BANKS: We got the setting: sunshine, fresh air, we got the team behind us, so let’s play two.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: So day baseball became synonymous with the Chicago Cubs.

 

Music: “Come out to Wrigley Field the home of the Cubs…”

 

STUART SHEA: No ballpark had ever been thought of as sort of an artistic wonder in terms of aesthetic beauty. “So Beautiful Wrigley Field” in quotes became the marketing campaign for the entire franchise. Veeck was instructed to tell the announcers to use the term “Beautiful Wrigley Field” at all times.

 

Music: “The sun will relax you, out on Wrigley Field…”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Ya know: “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Major League Baseball in the friendly confines of Beautiful Wrigley Field, home of your Chicago Cubs.” It just rolls out off my tongue, “Beautiful Wrigley Field,” as easily as does the “stinkin’ Mets.”  

 

Music: “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame for a ballgame today…”

 

NED COLLETTI: It became a priority to make it a good family atmosphere.

 

STUART SHEA: It wasn’t about winning, it was about Beautiful Wrigley Field. Whether the experience at the park was predictable, enjoyable, and repeatable … something you could always depend on. “We’re going to sell baseball to the same people who buy chewing gum from us.”

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: Day baseball during the week meant a lot of kids at the ballpark.   You could hear them, sort of little-league-type chants: “Hey batter, hey batter. Let’s go, Cubbies.”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Here’s how Cubs announcer Harry Caray put it:

 

WAYNE MESSMER (quoting and imitating Harry Caray): Ya know, day baseball is a way of life in Chicago. Mom can put Becky and Junior on the L to see a game and have’m home before dark.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Mike Quigley was one of those kids.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY:  I was Junior.  I would take the train. I had to make a switchover, but I knew exactly what I had to do.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And Beth Murphy was Becky.

 

BETH MURPHY : My friends and I would get on the L and come to the games.

 

[VENDOR: Hot dogs!]

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: My parents felt that it was safe for me to go.  I mean, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh grade.  That’s extraordinary.

 

BETH MURPHY: I don’t even think I was a teenager yet

 

STUART SHEA: and then we’d be there sitting in the bleachers for two bucks a pop.  “This is heaven.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: I think there’s a different reaction at night.

 

STUART SHEA: because the idea of hopping a train or a bus to go down into the city at that age at night was not something that was really on the table.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: We got really attached to Wrigley.  It was part of the ritual of our lives, like taking communion or something.  Hell, it was like we owned the place.

 

LEE ELIA: And if they happened to lose, ahh, that’s okay.  They’re our Chicago Cubs.

 

Music: “By the shores of old Lake Michigan, where the hawk wind blows so cold, an old Cub fan lay dying…”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: In 1977, PK Wrigley died at the age of 82. He left the team, and Beautiful Wrigley Field, to his son William. Four years later, William did the unthinkable.

 

[Chicago News Piece on Sale of Cubs to Tribune

 

MIKE ROYKO: In 1981 the Wrigley family, which had owned the Cubs since 1915, decided to sell to their neighbors across Michigan Avenue, the Tribune company.]

 

[NEWSBOY: Tribune buys the Cubs!]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The Cubs went from being a family business to the lone sports holding of one of the most powerful media behemoths in the country, the owner of Chicago’s biggest and most influential newspaper, the Chicago Tribune

 

NED COLLETTI: My name is Ned Colletti, I worked for the Chicago Cubs in media relations and then as a baseball operations assistant. I thought, “You know what?  It is on now.  It is real,” this franchise was now going to do everything it could to win games and maximize the revenue that it could possibly produce.

 

[Chicago Cubs/Tribune Press Conference, Form. Tribune Co. CEO

 

STANTON COOK: We are prepared to do whatever is necessary to bring a winner here. ]

 

Music: “Fight, fight, fight through the season, fight, fight, fight through the fall…”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: In 1981, the Tribune Company’s first major move was to bring in a new general manager, a tried-and-true baseball guy that actually knew how to run a team.

 

ALAN BORLACK: Dallas Green. So Dallas Green gets hired, and of course Dallas Green won a World Championship with the Phillies.

 

Music: “Fight, fight, fight for it all.”

 

BOB 
IBACH: Dallas was the sheriff in town.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: He was big. Ya know, with a shock of white hair

 

BETH MURPHY: Kind of a burly man  

 

STUART SHEA: Pretty gruff

 

BETH MURPHY: A little foul-mouthed and…

 

PAUL SULLIVAN: Just a hardass.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: Even the name, “Dallas,” it wasn’t very much a Chicago name, you know, it didn’t have a “ski” at the end of it.

 

[CUBS AD

 

VOICE OVER:  At Wrigley Field, Mother Nature supplies the lights, but Dallas Green supplies the heat.

 

DALLAS: You better believe it!]

 

ALAN BORLACK: He was one tough S.O.B. And myself and others said, “Great, that’s what we need is a tough S.O.B. to really get our Cubbies in line.” You noticed I called them  “Cubbies?” Dallas Green never called them “Cubbies.”

 

STUART SHEA: Because it made them seem like maybe a children’s toy or something that could easily be defeated.

 

[Cubs Ad

 

VOICE OVER: You remember the Cubs. That cute, cuddly little baseball team? Well they’re not cute, or cuddly, anymore.]

 

STUART SHEA: It was time to get rid of the “lovable losers.”

 

BOB IBACH: I am Bob Ibach, I came to the Cubs when Dallas Green was hired.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Bob’s job was to help Dallas perform the Lovable Losers exorcism.

 

BOB 
IBACH: So we came up with a slogan “Building a New Tradition.”

 

STUART SHEA : Because Dallas Green didn’t care about the history of Wrigley Field. He didn’t care about the history of Cub fans. He was hired to bring a winner to Chicago.  

 

[Cubs Press Conference

 

DALLAS GREEN : Losing breeds bad thinking on a ballclub. It breeds content with mediocrity. And we have to change an outlook here in Chicago.]

 

NED COLLETTI: Go back and look at at won-loss records. Go back and look attendance numbers. When I was growing up the upper deck was closed, except for big games. It was not anything to be proud of.

 


WAYNE MESSMER: So in 1982 …

 

NED COLLETTI: He started to assemble the team. He hired Lee Elia as his manager.

 

[Cubs/Dodgers Post-Game Press Conference, April 1983

 

LEE ELIA: The fucking changes that have happened in the Cub organization are multifold.]

 

NED COLLETTI: Lee Elia, yes sir!

 

[LEE ELIA: There’s some fuckin’ pros out there that wanna fuckin’ play this game.]

 

[Cubs Ad

Singers: The Cubs are coming out of hibernation!]

 

[LEE ELIA: My fuckin’ ass!]

 

ALAN BORLACK:  You could sense the dark cloud on the horizon.

 

NED COLLETTI: The lack of lights at Wrigley Field may have been a great tradition, but it was really becoming a detriment to the organization.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The fact is, the Tribune Company – like any big business – had its eye on the bottom line.

 

STUART SHEA: The idea of having more night games to spike ratings on television and radio was very appealing

 

[Cubs Ad


VOICEOVER:  Catch Cubs baseball fever, live from Wrigley Field…]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The Tribune Company owned WGN radio, and WGN TV, a so-called super station, which was carried on cable systems across the country.  Both had broadcast Cubs games for decades.  Grandpa in Florida?  Aunt Betty in Des Moines?  They could watch every single Cubs game on WGN.

 

[WGN Commercial, 1981

 

VOICEOVER: America’s #1 sports station…]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And almost immediately after the Tribune bought the Cubs in 1981, rumors started to swirl that God’s light would be replaced with artificial light.

 

[WGN-TV Channel 9 News Report

 

REPORTER: Cub officials initially downplayed reports that the team was considering lights at Wrigley Field but General Manager Dallas Green later said night baseball at Clark and Addison was an eventuality…]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The Tribune Company wanted to make money — and Dallas, he wanted to win.

 

[ABC News Report

 

DALLAS GREEN: I know in my heart that the Chicago Cubs can’t win in daytime baseball because the other baseball teams don’t play that way.]

 

[News Special on Cubs

 

JACK BRICKHOUSE:  And there you have it. The Cubs feel strongly that lights are a must if they are to effectively compete in a game that’s become big business..]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: So to make the case that day baseball meant BAD baseball, Dallas invoked one of the sorest subjects in Cubs’ history — the long festering wound of 1969.

The Cubs were in first place most of the season — but by September they completely wilted, losing the division to “the Stinkin’ Mets.”  

 

Music: “On the top step of the dugout, a cat the color of a hearse…”

 

WAYNE MESSMER:  What was to blame?  



Music: “People say it was the curse…”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: But plenty of other people blame day baseball. Don Kessinger was the shortstop for that ’69 team.



 

[Cubs TV Special, 1987

 

DON KESSINGER: When you play a two week homestand in 98 degrees heat it takes more out of you than guys playing at night]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And it wasn’t just the games that were wearing the players out. There was the lure of Wrigleyville’s fine drinking establishments, like Murphy’s Bleachers, on Sheffield right beyond centerfield.

 

BETH MURPHY: They certainly came here all the time. They would drink with everybody.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And because the players were getting off work in the late afternoon, they got a head start on happy hour.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: I can assure that while I loved all those guys, they did not go home right afterwards.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And then there were the quick turnarounds after road trips.

 

BOB IBACH: There were nights we came back from San Diego and had to play the next day, 1:20. So you could just see these guys were tired.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Dallas milked all this to make a point. Day baseball, it’s hard on the players, he’d say. You don’t want a repeat of ’69, right?    

 

[ABC News Report, Dallas Green Interview

 

DALLAS GREEN: People ask about lights and realistically they have to come, when they come only you and I and the devil know.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: After years of PK Wrigley promising there would never be lights at Wrigley Field, the Tribune Company was threatening to reneg on that neighborly promise.

 

STUART SHEA: Wrigley Field hadn’t been changed in any substantial way for 40 years. And so the idea of changing it that much, something that cut to the core of what the Cubs had been about in their city for so long, was really a divisive issue.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And it set up a battle between the Trib … and the neighborhood.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: Sort of a David versus Goliath.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And here’s your starting lineup for the Wrigleyville Davids in the great light fight. Leading off …

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: I’m Mike Quigley, Congressman from Illinois’ 5th District.

 

BETH MURPHY: I’m Beth Murphy, I’m the owner of Murphy’s Bleachers.

 

ALAN BORLACK:  My name is Alan Borlack, I’m an attorney.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: This is Charlotte Newfeld, and for many years I was chair of Citizens United for Baseball in Sunshine.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: With an extraordinary acronym of C-U-B-S.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: CUBS, obviously.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: It was an odd assemblage of people who happened to live in the neighborhood. And they had a lot of different skills and talents, not the least of which was how to get political support.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Mike Quigley was a young and energetic aide to an Alderman who represented part of the Wrigleyville neighborhood. Charlotte Newfeld was a longtime rabble-rouser.

 

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: And I said “This is going to be a neighborhood problem and we’re all going to have to have battle plans for it.’

 

WAYNE MESSMER: it was already bad enough for Wrigley’s neighbors during day games. Like that time Alan Borlack looked out his window and …

 

ALAN BORLACK: All of a sudden I noticed maybe around the sixth inning two cars had parked in my backyard. Now, this is in the daytime. People are parking in my backyard?

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Wouldn’t it just get worse at night?

 

ALAN BORLACK: There is no expressway.  There’s virtually no parking.  You better get home before the night crowd gets there or you don’t have a parking spot.

 

BETH MURPHY: People actually live in this neighborhood.

 

[ ABC Evening News Report on Lights Fight

 

NEIGHBOR 1: They do not care if our streets and our alleys are blocked with cars keeping ambulances from sick residents or keeping fire engines from burning homes.  They do not care if our children are kept awake at night by the crowds and the traffic.

 

NEIGHBOR 2: What happens under the cover of darkness, when people have too much to drink?

 

NEIGHBOR 3: The night games make me afraid to be in my own yard.  There’ll be crime, there’ll be vandalism… ]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Tribune columnist Mike Royko thought this kind of talk was a bunch of hoo-hah.

 

[ABC News Report

 

MIKE ROYKO: There’s this new image of Cub fans, barbarians that are going to come in raping, plundering, looting the neighborhood.]

 

ALAN BORLACK: It doesn’t take a psychologist to know that there is a difference between a crowd in the daytime and a crowd at night. People act differently. They’re more rowdy.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: I think people are far more likely to have a couple beers, go to the park, have a lot of beers, and then go out afterwards and have some more beers. Wrigley Field is a 40,000-person beer garden in the middle of one of the most densely-populated neighborhoods in the United States.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: There weren’t public restrooms outside provided by Wrigley Field for their fans.  There were houses with bushes.

 

MARTIN COHEN: It was a common occurrence to find drunk fans urinating on my tomato plants

 

STUART SHEA: We don’t want people peeing on our lawns.” That was like a rallying cry for a lot of people.

 

ALAN BORLACK: There’s something about a human being peeing on your lawn that also excites the senses and says, “I don’t want this. This is my land. Use the urinal down the street at some tavern.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD:  It became the symbol of lack of respect that there are people living here who expect to have a good life.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: And the Cub management initial response was, “If you don’t like it, too bad.  We’re going to do whatever we want.”

 

BETH MURPHY: You’re moving right next to a stadium, what do you expect?  And I would say back – you bought a ballpark in a neighborhood, so what do you expect (laughs)?  It goes both ways.

 

 Music:  “Fight, fight, fight through the season. Fight, fight, fight through the fall…”

 

WAYNE MESSMER:  It all came to a head on a Tuesday night in Wrigleyville.

 

ALAN BORLACK: We invited Dallas to come speak to the neighborhood, and we had a very nice crowd.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: I don’t think he’d ever been exposed to a community meeting. And you could see by his posture, he just wasn’t comfortable.

 

[C.U.B.S Meeting

 


DALLAS GREEN: One thing I am not afraid of ladies and gentlemen is a fight. And if that’s what you want, that’s what I can give you”

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: He was so awful. So mean to everybody.  

 

STUART SHEA: He was like a bull in a China shop

 

BETH MURPHY: He wanted to win, and he didn’t want to hear about people peeing on your lawn or whatever.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: You know, “we own it and to hell with you.” I remember that being his attitude. Like, “Who should listen to a neighborhood? “How dare you tell us what to do with our property?” And so, “What about our property?”  

 

BETH MURPHY: People want to be heard and listened to. And so when you’re just being told what to do or things are going on around you that you can’t control, that’s when people get really angry.

 

[NBC News Piece

 

DALLAS GREEN: I don’t know anything about lights and I don’t know anything about what it does to communities… (neighbors boo)]

 

BETH MURPHY: I think the Cubs would’ve gotten lights a lot sooner if they hadn’t sent Dallas Green out as their ambassador. He was a baseball guy. He didn’t understand why he had to deal with the neighborhood. He just didn’t get it.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: I don’t think he realized it, but he was always from then on the perfect enemy.

 

Music: “Fight, fight, fight for it all.”

 

NED COLLETTI: Dallas came to me the morning after one of these meetings and he says, “You’ve lived here your whole life almost. What am I doing wrong?”  I says, “Brother, you’ve got to turn it down a little bit (laughs). It does not go over well in this city like that.”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Dallas’s antics got Citizens United for Baseball in the Sunshine, shall we say, moving.

 

[Prune Ad

 

VOICEOVER: Prunes are highly effective as a gentle, natural aid to regularity…”]

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: He spoke out that it was terrible on the players, because they were constipated for having to fly in from another town and play during the day. So we bought cases of prunes and had them delivered to his office.  It just piled up at the door.

 

[VOICEOVER:  Prunes can surely do much to keep us healthy and well.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: A local music group wrote a little ditty that C.U.B.S. used as a fundraising gimmick.

 

Music: “Cubs are on the field, the sun is in the sky and the fever is in their eyes cause they go dancing, dancing in the sun. Dancing in the sun…”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And then there were the shirts. The ubiquitous T shirts.

 

JODY DAVIS: I’m Jody Davis, I was catcher for the Chicago Cubs. The fans were coming to Wrigley Field with “No Lights” T-shirts

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: The T-shirts were bright yellow, and the lettering was red-orange.  

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: With a marquee of Wrigley Field.  “No Lights in Wrigley Field.”

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: And it became very popular.

 

JODY DAVIS: I know I had one, and I’d probably pissed Dallas Green off. But, I don’t think I ever wore it to the ballpark. I probably wore it around the house or something. We were just playin’ ball, we didn’t know.

 

[ARCHIVAL: “No lights! No lights!” (chanting)]

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: We’d have rallies which marched around Wrigley Field …the kids all in T-shirts and we sold a lot of them and kept paying the bills.

 

JODY DAVIS: They were putting up the “No Lights” signs and banners on the buildings.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: Every window had a “No Lights” sign. Those things you know really made the neighborhood begin to coalesce.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The neighbors decided that the best way to protect baseball in the sunshine was to lobby for it.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: We were well enough organized to find money to rent a bus to take a whole bunch of people down to Springfield

 

WAYNE MESSMER: In August 1982, C.U.B.S. got strike one when the Illinois legislature effectively banned night games at Wrigley.  A year later the Chicago CIty Council – under Mayor Harold Washington – followed suit.  STRIKE TWO!

 

[ NBC News Piece

 

MAYOR HAROLD WASHINGTON: People within their homes and the sanctity of their neighborhoods should have the right to determine the use of their neighborhood.  it’s just that simple (applause)]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: It seemed pretty simple to the neighbors. But in the summer of 1984, baseball in the sunshine got a little heated

 

STUART SHEA: In 1984 Cubs had become a surprise team.

 

Music: “Go Cubs go, go Cubs go, hey Chicago what do you say, Cubs are gonna win today”

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: My name is Rick Sutcliffe. I was traded to the Chicago Cubs in June of 1984. They were already in first place.

 

JODY DAVIS: I’m Jody Davis. Watching the city believin’ that you can win again – everything just changed. The whole city got so excited.  

 

BRUCE LEVINE: The first time that the Cubs ever drew two million people was Dallas Green’s 1984 team.

 

PAUL SULLIVAN: ID. Wrigley was filling up, and there was more bars around the neighborhood.The rooftops turned into businesses … home values were going up.

 

JODY DAVIS : and it just fell into place.

 


MUSIC: “There’s been a lot of talk about the lights at Wrigley park, but once but we don’t care we’ll play it in the dark”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: But Major League Baseball DID care when the Cubs played their games. Just the previous year, they’d signed a huge contract with ABC and NBC that required World Series games be played at night.

 

[ABC Evening News Broadcast

 

REPORTER, TED KOPPEL: If Cubs go on to win the pennant, there’s a problem, one which no one in Chicago can afford to take ‘lightly’
]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: In September 1984 the Cubs got one step closer–they won the National League East.

 

[1984 NL East Tournament,Cubs vs. Pirates

 

HARRY CARAY: Look at that mob scene…]

 

STUART SHEA: And people thought they’re going to make the World Series. This became a real concern. How are we going to be able to have World Series games if these Cubs don’t have lights?

 

[ABC Evening News Broadcast

 

REPORTER, TED KOPPEL: If the team makes the World Series and the games here are played in the daytime instead of prime time, it could cost the league as much as 18 million dollars in television revenues.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Instead, MLB and the Cubs did something that was just … unconscionable.  

 

[Interview with Cubs/Tribune Executive

 

DONALD GRENESKO: Major League Baseball told us that we were going to have to play our games somewhere else, we ended up signing a contract to play the games down in Busch Stadium in St. Louis.]

 

STUART SHEA: St Louis? It’s inconceivable.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: St Louis just happened to be the Cubs’ arch-rival.  

 

STUART SHEA: The biggest shame could’ve ever been visited on a Cub fan was to have them played in St. Louis.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The late Bill Veeck, who by this point was a regular in the Wrigley bleachers, was P.O.ed.

 

[Interview with Bill Veeck

 

BILL VEECK: :08 – Now maybe the scenario ran something like this, NBC said, “Well how ‘bout the Cubs?” and they said, “Oh come on, they’ll never win a pennant.”]

 

WAYNE MESSMER:  Neighbor Alan Borlack was irate.

 

ALAN BORLACK: Why would Major League Baseball, with all of their high-priced lawyers, enter into a television contract with NBC and ABC that called for televising night games during the World Series if they knew one of the twenty-six teams does not have lights?  One might wonder, “What were you thinking?”

 

[Cubs/Dodgers Post-Game Press Conference, April 1983

 

LEE ELIA: It’s a disheartening fucking situation we’re in right now.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The clock was ticking. So commissioner Bowie Kuhn compromised. IF the Cubs made the World Series, they’d lose home field advantage … BUT they could play during the day, in the October sunshine.  In the end, it was a moot point.

 

MUSIC (“The Curse”): First baseman flubbed a grounder, people blame it on the curse…

 

[NLCS 1984, Cubs Vs.  Padres, Game 5

 

ANNOUNCER: ground ball hit to Durham, right through his legs…]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: It was the “Stinkin” San Diego Padres who went to the World Series,  defeating the Cubs in the NL championship series. Peter Ueberroth… fresh off a successful gig as organizer of the 1994 Los Angeles Olympics, took the helm as baseball commissioner just before the postseason. That December,  Peter — well, he laid down the law for Cubs fans.

 

PETER UEBERROTH: The letter went from me to the leader of the Chicago Cubs.  

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Ah, the letter.  The infamous Ueberroth letter.

 

[NBC News Piece, 1984

 

ANCHOR: The commissioner of baseball has issued a ruling that doesn’t sit very well with fans of the Chicago Cubs who like to watch their baseball in the afternoon.]

 

PETER UEBERROTH: Get the lights, put them on, and be done with it. I mean, it’s a polite way of saying that.

 

STUART SHEA: The reaction people had here was, you know, “Who is this guy from Los Angeles telling us what we should and shouldn’t do?”

 

PETER UEBERROTH: They had to do it for the best interest of baseball, and the best interest of baseball comes before any individual team. Is that clear?

 

ALAN BORLACK: “Maybe this is your problem, Peter.  And maybe it’s your lawyer’s problem, too, for entering into such a contract.”

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: “How can your contractual agreement override local ordinances?”

Clearly it was this sense of, “We are so much more important than you.” Profits matter first.

 

[NBC News Piece, December 1984

 

REPORTER: With day games, Cubs have lost primetime television advertising rates – cold cash for the team…]

 

STUART SHEA: And it really showed in a very blatant way how television was running the game.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The day after Ueberroth’s letter — the Tribune Company sued the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois claiming that the lights bans were unconstitutional.  Was the timing mere coincidence?

 

ALAN BORLACK: My personal opinion is that the Cubs helped draft that letter with Ueberroth.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The Trib and the Cubs could say they were forced into the lawsuit by MLB.  

 

STUART SHEA: They didn’t have to be the bad guys. They could just sort of say, “Well, you know, it’s not our fault.”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Right after the lawsuit was filed, Alan Borlack got a call.

 

ALAN BORLACK: Members of C.U.B.S. were asking me to represent them – pro bono of course. And I couldn’t say no. It was close to my heart, too.  

 


[NBC News Piece

 

ANCHOR:  Tension in the Chicago courtroom today over whether lawmakers could stop the team from installing lights in Wrigley Field. ]

 

ALAN BORLACK: The lawsuit was about the Tribune claiming, “We have the right to do with our property as we wish,” and the neighborhood saying, “No, you don’t.”  It took him 10 days to write a 64-page opinion, which is very prompt.

 

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The court’s ruling: laws mandating day baseball at Wrigley were perfectly constitutional.

 

ALAN BORLACK: It is an excoriation of Major League Baseball. The greed of the owners and the sheer chutzpah of what they were trying to do.

 

[NBC News Piece

 

REPORTER, CASSANDRA CLAYTON: A citizens group against putting lights in Wrigley Field gleefully read the judge’s decision]

 

ALAN BORLACK: And the last sentence was you’re out. O U T!  The Cubs are out.  The inning is over.  The contest is lost.

 

Music: “…three strikes you’re out at the ole ball game.”

 

[1984 Interview with Neighbor


NEIGHBOR, NANCY KASAK: The community won, the Tribune lost, enough said, the fight is over]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: This is when Dallas Green pulled out the Trib’s trump card.

 

[NBC News Piece,

 

DALLAS GREEN: One of the alternatives is to start looking into the possibility of a new stadium.]

 

STUART SHEA: The Cubs talked about the idea of maybe moving to the suburbs if they couldn’t get the city to allow them to put lights in Wrigley Field.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And it wasn’t just any suburb. They threatened to abandon Beautiful Wrigley Field for the most suburban suburb of them all.

 

[Schaumburg Ad, 1980

 

VOICEOVER: Schaumburg, Schaumburg, Schaumburg!]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Schaumburg, Illinois, home of what was then one of the world’s largest shopping malls. That’s when the rumor mill went crazy.

 

[Cubs T.V Special

 

DANIEL EPSTEIN: We think the Cubs would be an absolutely fantastic tenant for a domed stadium.]

 

MIKE QUIGLEY:  It was an era of the cookie-cutter ugly stadiums with artificial turf, no character whatsoever …

 

STUART SHEA: Concrete, round stadiums, that could be easily converted for football, concerts…

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: There was even talk of artificial turf and 60 or 70 night games.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Tribune-owned WGN aired a special in October of 1985 narrated by Hall of Fame Cubs Announcer Jack Brickhouse. It was called “Wrigley Field: The Ivy Walls May Fall.”

 

[WGN-TV Cubs T.V Special, 1985

 

JACK BRICKHOUSE: The days of the Cubs at Wrigley Field may be numbered.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: You had to wonder … was this Tribune backed propaganda? An attempt to scare the neighbors and city into compliance?

 

STUART SHEA: It’s hard to know how much of this was posturing, but I’m sure that they were considering it, simply because at that time the Tribune hadn’t really recognized how critical Wrigley Field itself was to the Cubs identity.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Beth Murphy – of Murphy’s Bleachers – was initially against lights. But then….

 

BETH MURPHY: My husband and a friend of his were shown plans for a ballpark that was going to replicate Wrigley Field in Schaumburg.

 

[Schaumburg Ad:

 

Schaumburg, Schaumburg, Schaumburg!]

 

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The person who knew about the plans for the suburban Wrigley seemed credible … and that changed everything.

 

BOB IBACH: There was a sense of urgency that you might lose this ballclub. If this ballpark goes away you got nothing.  What are you going to do?  Your business is going to suffer. You’re going to lose money, and this place could just become another part of the north side of Chicago.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: So Murphy and other Wrigleyville bar owners decided that a few night games at Wrigley would be better than NO Wrigley.

 

[WGN Cubs T.V Special, 1984

 

JIM MURPHY: We don’t want to lose the Cubs at Wrigley Field.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Here’s the late Jim Murphy in that WGN documentary “The Ivy Walls May Fall.”

 

[JIM MURPHY: And we’re going to do our darnedest to try to develop a compromising attitude with the rest of the citizenry.]

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: The threat reduced some of our support.


 

WAYNE MESSMER: And in perhaps the most obvious sign the tide had turned…

 

BETH MURPHY: We had Murphy’s Bleachers T-shirts, and part of the logo is a baseball.  And I do remember we remade them with a light bulb on it, and it said, “Lights on.”  

 

WAYNE MESSMER: In October 1987, Dallas Green resigned, blaming differences of opinion with the Tribune Company. And whattya know…

 

MIKE QUIGLEY:  Slowly but surely the Cubs started to be better neighbors.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: They realized that being in the middle of a neighborhood was what brought people to Wrigley Field. It certainly wasn’t the quality of the players. Wrigley Field was the icon. And they started to work a little more for us and help us.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: It was easier for the Cubs to get what they wanted when they stopped acting like Goliath.  

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And in November of 1987, just two weeks after Dallas Green’s departure, Mayor Washington gave in.

 

STUART SHEA: He brokered a deal between the city and the team in order to keep the team in Chicago, in Wrigley Field, give them a certain amount of night events (change to ‘games’) a year

 

[Interview with Mayor Washington, 1984

 

HAROLD WASHINGTON: I think all parties have had sufficient dialogue, it’s gone on interminably, the process has been open, it’s been fair, the decision’s been arrived at.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Twelve days later, Mayor Washington died of a heart attack. The City Council went ahead and did the deed.

 

[NBC News Piece

 

REPORTER: The City Council has voted to allow eight night games this season, and 18 a year after that.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER:  And in the winter of 1987, workers started assembling Wrigley’s lights. The construction site was top-secret because …

 

BOB IBACH: They thought people in the neighborhood were gonna take BB guns and shoot out the lights

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And then, at dawn one April morning, they brought out the SWAT team.

 

BOB IBACH:  All of a sudden you’ve got seven or eight helicopters flying around.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Beth Murphy stood on the rooftop of Murphy’s Bleachers and watched.

 

BETH MURPHY:  The helicopters brought the light standards in, and hovered, and they attached them to the roof.

 

BOB IBACH: It looked like a scene from MASH.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And Mike Quigley and the rest of Citizens United for Baseball in Sunshine conceded it was time to turn on the lights.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: People say, “Well, you lost” but they originally wanted, what, 70 night games and artificial turf; they got 18.

 

ALAN BORLACK: The compromise was pretty reasonable, 18 night games was not the end of the world.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: No booze sales after 9:20.  No organ ditties after 9:30.  Permit parking for residents only.

 

MIKE QUIGLEY: We got more tow trucks, a remote parking location. Traffic lanes to come to and from the ballpark.  

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD:  If we hadn’t been around there’d be no limits. They could’ve done whatever they wanted with everything.

 

[VENDOR: August 8th, 1988. First night with Wrigley lights!]

 

ALAN BORLACK:  August 8, 1988

 

GARY PRESSY: How could you forget that?

 

PAUL SULLIVAN: That seemed to me like a stroke of genius. This is a date that everyone’s going to remember the rest of their life, because it’s 8-8-88.

 

[NBC News Piece

 

ANCHOR: It’ll be the Cubs and the Phillies making history when the sun sets on Wrigley Field today, Monday, August the 8th, 1988.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Rick Sutcliffe – “The Red Baron” — was the starting pitcher.


 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: I was involved in a lot of so-called big events. But nothing comes close to what went on that night

 

BETH MURPHY: It was a happening

 

ALAN BORLACK: A spectacle

 

WAYNE MESSMER: A celebration

 

BETH MURPHY: It was as close to a World Series as we would experience.

 

[News Report

 

REPORTER: When 13k tickets to the game were put on sale, 1.5 million telephone calls were made to the ticket office in three and a half hours.]

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: I had, like, 300 or 400 people that were calling, “Is there any way you can get us tickets to that ballgame?”

 

JODY DAVIS: I mean, it was standing-room only.

 

BETH MURPHY: There were celebrities here, Bill Murray was here.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: A lot of people were wearing tuxedos.  

 

JERRY PRITIKIN: People were out in the bleachers wearing ties.  

 

WAYNE MESSMER: The sweat factor was intense.

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: It had to have been 100 degrees.

 

[WGN-TV Pre-Game Show

 

DAN ROAN: It’s just about as uncomfortable on the field as it has been for any day game all year long.]

 

[WMAQ-TV Pre-Game Show

 

REPORTER: There are so many people out there that simply will not accept this even though it is reality

 

PROTESTER: they don’t need night baseball. they could have kept a tradition. The saddest day in the city of Chicago and in the United States is today.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Charlotte Newfeld was keeping an eye on the invading throngs.

 

[NBC News Report

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: We have a neighborhood watch patrol of 200 people looking to see if there are solutions to the problems that night baseball brings.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And Bill Murray was in the broadcast booth, hamming it up Harry Caray and a Budweiser.

 

[WGN Broadcast, Cubs vs. Phillies, 8/8/88

 

BILL MURRAY: It was like there was gonna be a public execution, the mood outside]

 

[WMAQ Pre-Game Show, 8/8/88 

 

REPORTER: Throwing out the first ball will be Mr. Cub himself,  Ernie Banks. how will he react to see the lights?

 

ERNIE BANKS:  Probably cry. It’s not out of sadness, it’s just, I’ve seen so much joy and happiness there in the daytime, it’s like different.]

 

[Pre-Game Show, 8/8/88

 

JACK BRICKHOUSE: Now at this time we direct your attention to the on-deck circle as the Wrigley Field lights will be officially turned on.]

 

[NBC News Piece:

 

REPORTER: 91 year old Cub fanatic Harry Grossman performs the honorary duty of bidding farewell to an era]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: And he was pretty excited, standing over by the first-base dugout, with some fake contraption that looked like something out of Mission Impossible that you’re going to blow up something. And he would press the button, and he says…

 

[WMAQ-TV Pre-Game Show 

 

HARRY GROSSMAN: Let there be light!]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: and then suddenly there they go. Heaven, a.k.a. Wrigley Field, was illuminated.

 

[WGN-TV Pre-Game Show, 8/8/88

 

HARRY CARAY: Look at the lights!]

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: You know, for, you know, 100 years you had grown accustomed to lookin’ at it during the day.  And the next thing you know, I mean, it just lit up.

 

BETH MURPHY: it set a glow in the neighborhood like a meteor.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: It was unbelievable. The green became greener. The 400 sign in center field suddenly jumped out at us.

 

NED COLLETTI: It was like seeing, you know, your best girl dressed up, like going to the prom.

 

[WGN-TV Pre-Game Show, 8/8/88

 

BILL MURRAY: It’s the most beautiful park in the world and it’s pretty under the lights too, that’s what I was hoping]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Just before the first pitch, Sutcliffe got special marching orders.

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: They were people from the Hall of Fame.  And they said, “We want the first pitch to go to Cooperstown. We don’t want it put in play.” And I go, “Just speak English. What are you guys telling me here?”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: If the first pitch was fouled off into the stands, or god forbid was hit for a home run, it wouldn’t make it to Cooperstown. The Hall of Fame was asking Rick to make sure the ball ended up in the catcher’s mitt.

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: We’ve talked to the home plate umpire, Eric Gregg, and he has told us that he will have a generous outside corner for you on that first pitch.” And I go, “You’re telling me if I throw the pitch eight inches outside, he’s going to call it a strike?”  He said he would do that.”  I said, “You’ve got it.”

 

[WGN-TV Pre-Game Show, 8/8/88

 

HARRY CARAY: The first pitch of the ballgame]

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: The crowd’s going nuts. And as I wound up to throw it I remember feeling like the stadium exploded. Everybody wanted to take a picture of that first pitch.

 

[WGN-TV Pre-Game Show, 8/8/88

 

HARRY CARAY: Where do all those lights flicker from?

 

STEVE STONE: Those are people with flash cameras Harry trying to get a piece of history]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Sutcliffe did what he was told. He threw the first pitch outside.

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: Eric Gregg goes, “Ball one.”  And I was like, “You’ve got to be shitting me.”  And excuse my language, but that’s exactly what my thoughts were at that point.

 

Eric Gregg, years later told me he changed his mind. He goes, ‘There’s a lot of people watching.’ He wasn’t going to call it a strike if it wasn’t a strike.

 

And instead of thinking about the next pitch, all my mind was thinking about was, “What in the world just happened?  Are you okay?  You having a stroke?” or “What’s going on here?”

 

[WGN-TV Pre-Game Show, 8/8/88

 

HARRY CARAY : There’s a drive, way back, it’s outta here.]

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: And it ended up in the street. Phil Bradley hits a homerun off of me. And later on I found out that Bill Murray, who was in the booth at the time, goes …

 

[WGN-TV Pre-Game Show, 8/8/88

 

BILL MURRAY: Turn ‘em off! Turn the dang lights off!]

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: He goes, if Phil Bradley hits a homerun off of Rick Sutcliffe, this is not gonna work.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: But in the Cubs half of the first inning…

 

[WGN-TV Pre-Game Show, 8/8/88

 

HARRY CARAY: Here’s Ryne Sandburg swings, there’s a drive, it might be (cheering) annnnnnnnd …holy cow!

 

MURRAY:  I like these lights, I like them.]

 

[BILL MURRAY: Harry, does it look like rain out there, or what?

 

HARRY CARAY : Yeah, there’re some storm warnings being issued.]

 

NED COLLETTI: On the western edge of the ballpark you could start to see the growing cloud mass.

 

[HARRY CARAY: The crowd now alarmed by lightning]

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: All of a sudden the wind changed.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Whoom, starts coming in right off the lake …

 

[HARRY CARAY:  Is the scoreboard wavering? A bit shaky up there.]

 

STUART SHEA: It was creepy. It was really really weird

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Then you go, oh God. Something’s about to happen.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: We had asked the American Indian Center could they do a rain dance and have it rain that night. And it did.  

 

BETH MURPHY: Then it was a deluge.

 

WAYNE MESSMER: It came down in buckets.

 

BETH MURPHY: it’s, like, this isn’t going to stop, is it?

 

WAYNE MESSMER:  And then…”Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight’s game is under a rain delay.”

 

NED COLLETTI: It just kept on coming down.

 

[BILL MURRAY: A bunch of beer soaked water rats walking around the neighborhood now going “Excuse me, can I come into your house, it’s raining outside.”]

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: “Can I come in your house, I need a bathroom?”

 

[ANNOUNCER: It ameliorates some of the fear of people whizzing on their lawn, this’ll kinda wash it away.]

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Finally, ”Ladies and gentlemen, tonight’s game has been postponed.”

 

[HARRY CARAY: Wouldn’t you know it, the first game is not the first night game. Tomorrow now is scheduled to be the first night game.]

 

RICK SUTCLIFFE: It was like God was telling us, you might think you’re going to pick the day that you turn on the lights at Wrigley FIeld, but I’ll let you know.

 

CHARLOTTE NEWFELD: It couldn’t be printed in the newspaper but everyone knew “God peed on Wrigley Field.”

 

WAYNE MESSMER: Originally there were 18 night games a year.  Then it crept up to 22, then 30, then 43, and now, a max of 47.  And the Cubs still want more. These days night baseball at Wrigley…it’s no big deal. As Jack Brickhouse predicted back in the day.

 

[Cubs T.V Special 

 

JACK BRICKHOUSE: Years from now, for heaven’s sake, you’ll have kids in those bleachers out there who will not be able to remember what life was like without lights at Wrigley Field.]

 

STUART SHEA: It’s like kids can’t imagine life before the internet.  “What did you do?  How did you know things?” And now the big thing is that everybody wants the mojo of a Wrigley Field. They want limited seating so you can charge higher prices.  You want something that has “character,” quote unquote, not too much character but, like, marketable character. They’re all trying to capture some sense of baseball that has been lost.

 

JERRY PRITIKIN: You go back to your old neighborhood, it’s not your old neighborhood. You go out to Wrigley, it’s not the old Wrigley. Nothing stays the same.

 

ALAN BORLACK: So ultimately some beautiful innocence was lost. But the neighborhood has since thrived and grown with leaps and bounds.

 

NED COLLETTI: Do I wish it never had changed a minute?  Yeah, I guess I do. But you know what?  Wrigley Field is still there. The ivy’s still on the wall. The scoreboard still sits up in center field.  That to me is so much worth the tradeoff of having an apartment building with a plaque on it that says, “This is where Wrigley Field used to be.’  

 

STUART SHEA:  Day baseball without the possibility of lights is like a world that nobody will ever know now, and I felt lucky that I knew it. Cheap seats in the sunshine, and maybe sticking your thumb out at the at the man?  We actually sort of felt like we were rebels, revolutionaries, because we were Cub fans. And they hadn’t figured out a way to tame it yet. It was an important lesson and a good lesson in the need to accept change. If Wrigley Field could change, then really anything could change.

 

Music: “Come out to Wrigley Field, the home of the Cubs, you hear the fly right over the wall. If ya got troubles and woes, when you let yourself go, see the National League play ball. Come on and see some real action, you’ll be right in. The sun will relax you, enjoy every minute out at Wrigley Field, the home of the Cubs…”