May 24, 1935:
The Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, and the crowd of 20,422 fans sat patiently in the darkness of Crosley Field. It was baseball’s first night game, and both teams and fans waited while president Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt presided over the ballgame some 400 miles away at his desk in the White House. With a flick of the wrist, FDR switched a gold telegraph key signaling his man in Cincinnati to turn on the lights. And with that small gesture, 632 Mazda lamplights opened up the grassy field to play ball for the first time at night.
On assignment from P.K. Wrigley, Bill Veeck was sent to Milwaukee to investigate a new lighting technique, possibly for Wrigley Field. The new idea employed a hydraulic system where the lights could be raised and lowered in a “telescopic fashion.” The cost for the equipment was $70,000 — far more than what Wrigley intended to pay.
Wrigley ordered light standards for the park to be installed in February or March of 1942. The material for the lights was stored underneath the bleachers at Wrigley. The Cubs assembled the steel, cable, reflectors and electrical equipment for the most modern lighting system in baseball and moved it into storage in late November.
The lights were not intended for “true” night games. Instead, Wrigley wished to schedule some twilight games, starting at 6 p.m. The twilight games would allow patrons to attend a game after work while ensuring that the neighborhood settled down so that residents could enjoy a restful evening. As such, the Cubs and City Council agreed on an ordinance that prohibited an inning starting after 8:00 p.m.
December 8, 1941:
A day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Wrigley donated the 165 tons of steel for the light standards to the U.S. war effort. Later, when President Franklin Roosevelt requested more night baseball games, the Cubs looked into using wooden poles and second-hand equipment to erect useful, but not beautiful, lighting for Wrigley.
The Cubs would eventually submit plans for lighting at least three times, but those plans were rejected by the War Production Board.
Excerpted from Chicago Tribune, January 21, 1942:
The Cubs may play night baseball “at home” next season, but their home for such events would be Comiskey park, domicile of the White Sox. This scheme, as yet in the infant stage, was unfolded yesterday by James Gallagher, Cubs’ general manager, who at the same time revealed that contracts had been let for a Wrigley field lighting plant, but the rights to the material had been waived in behalf of national defense.
In making the announcement Gallagher explained that it grieved him to think of moving away from Wrigley field even for a few games, in fact, that he is not a night baseball addict, but that if President Roosevelt, as indicated by his letter to Commissioner K.M. Landis, favors expansion of the after-dinner program during the war period, the Cubs are more than eager to join the parade.
The Wrigley field lighting plant on which preliminary work had been done, was to have cost approximately $155,000 and was to have been completed by next April. Specifications called for 165 tons of steel, 35,000 feet of copper wire, and 800 aluminum reflectors. The lights were to be clustered on six towers, two in the outfield and the others in the grandstand.
Chicago Tribune, February 13, 1942:
SOX DENY CUBS USE OF LIGHTS FOR NIGHT PLAY
Rivals Agree to Retain North-South Boundary.
This was the gist of a 150 word joint statement issued late yesterday by the two Chicago major league rivals and definitely eliminated the possibility of the National leaguers renting the south side piant for a series of night games next season.
The management of the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs in the interest of baseball in general and of baseball In Chicago In particular have discussed at length the possibility and advisability of both teams using the same park for night baseball.
This, of course, Is done In other cities, such as St. Louis and Phila- delphia, but both managements feel that Chicago represents an entirely different situation., Our city Is del. nitely divided into sections, and there Is as much rivalry between the north side and the south side of Chicago, in fact more than there is between, for Instance. Chicago and New York, and Inasmuch as rivalry and competi- tion is the spirit of baseball, both managements agree that It would be better not to use the same ball park, even for a limited number of night games.
ln fact, this Is an agreement to disagree, and the rivalry between the two clubs will continue not only be- tween the teams themselves but on the part of the managements, each to cater to their own fans and do the very best they can for them.
Yesterday’s development means the Cubs will continue to operate as in other years, with the customary 3 o clock beginning except the 2 p. m. start on Saturdays. The National leaguers, despite other reports, are cold toward experimenting with twilight baseball unless there is strong pressure by their fans.
May 20, 1942:
Wrigley announced the Cubs’ plans for night games are not dead. He pointed out that a supply of lumber for light standards was already en route and that transformers and lights would be available. He said:
Eight 120-foot poles are on the way here from Oregon now, for use in the outfield. The battery of lights directed at the Wrigley buildings, which were removed from their place on the southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue bridge, would be used in lighting the park. They are now being used in construction work at Great Lakes, and should be ready for use soon. The transformers at Catalina, which haven’t been used since the Casino was closed down, can be loaded on flat cars and shipped here on short notice. The actual installation would probably require only a couple of weeks.
Wrigley said plans to add lights would be determined by fan interest. He also said he thought baseball was an “outdoor, daylight game, where you went out and bought a bag of popcorn and absorbed fresh air and sunshine.”
Chicago Tribune, June 25, 1943:
The Cubs played a twilight game against the Cardinals starting at 6 p.m. Under current baseball definitions, this twilight game would be considered a night game. There is no mention of needing lights to be considered a night game. This date was chosen because June 25 is one of the longest daylight days of the year.
Chicago Tribune May 9, 1944:
WPB Denies Cubs’ Light Plant Request
The recreation section of the War Production Board today today turned down the Chicago Cubs’ application to install night baseball facilities in Wrigley Field this season, but invited the Cubs to resubmit their request with a view to construction for 1945.
George W. McMurphey, director of recreation for the War Production Board, said there was still a possibility for more night baseball in Chicago if the Cubs used the lighting facilities of the White Sox Park for several games.
The shortage of critical material and “other factors” prompted denial of the Cubs application by McMurphey. McMurphey said:
The release of materials alone was not the deciding factor. “While materials may be available, this office also took into consideration that construction could not be completed before August, which would leave only 21 weekday dates available to the Cubs in their home park.
Under such circumstances, the expenditure of material and labor does not seem justified for so few night games.
James T. Gallagher, vice president and general manager of the Cubs, said:
The Cubs will confine their baseball to the daylight; in Chicago this season, at least. Government officials suggested we apply for permission to install lights at Wrigley Field and we did so with the idea that if we could help further the war any by permitting those engaged during the day in war work to see night baseball, we would cooperate.
Since we have been turned down on our application there is nothing left for us to do but continue our usual policy of day time baseball. If we see a need for night baseball next year we may file another application. However, this new application will not be necessary until some time in December. If this application us granted then we will have time to install lights before the opening of the 1945 season.
However, the Cubs have not been, and are not now, sold on night baseball, but this situation may change after the war. If there is a trend toward night baseball after the war, we may take some action then.
Chicago Tribune, October 21, 1945:
No Lights in ’46 for Cubs, Says Wrigley
Wrigley Field probably will be the last outpost of 100 per cent day time baseball. This opinion was ventured yesterday by P. K. Wrigley, owner and president of the National League Champions, when he said there will be no lights in his ball park next season.
The New York Yankees’ announcement yesterday that lights will be installed in their stadium left only Wrigley Field, Fenway Park in Boston, and Briggs Stadium in Detroit without electric lights.
“We believe that baseball is a day time sport,” said Wrigley,”and will continue to play it in the sunshine as long as we can.”
The Cubs last season reported a paid home attendance of 1,037,026.
Then he suggested that perhaps the Cubs would eventually wind up as the only club without a lighting plant. He has intimated on past occasions that lights would be installed only if the fans clamored for night time games.
October 12, 1960:
The Cubs announced that Wrigley Field would eventually have lights—not to play night games, but rather to assure that day games could be completed. The lights, however, would not be purchased until the Cubs became contenders. Wrigley would not speculate when that would occur.
October 15, 1962:
The only Chicago- ans we know opposed to possible night baseball at Wrigley field (when, O., when, P. K.?) are night club and theater owners who feel it would be rough competition.
March 17, 1966:
William Shlensky, a 27-year-old Chicago lawyer who had owned two shares of Cubs stock since he was 14, filed suit to force the Cubs to install lights at Wrigley Field. The suit was filed in Circuit Court of Cook County against Wrigley and the members of the Cubs board of directors seeking to force the team to play night games at Wrigley.
Shlensky’s suit charged mismanagement, claiming that by installing lights the Cubs would be in better position to compete against other NL clubs, increase gate receipts and buy more talented players.
Wrigley responded by saying only four or five years ago, he received a petition signed by 3,000 neighbors requesting the Cubs not install lights.
March 10, 1982:
General manager Dallas Green publicly stated that lights will be installed in Wrigley Field “or we’ll have to think about playing in another ballpark.” The comments prompted protests from a Wrigleyville citizen group—Citizens United for Baseball in the Sunshine (CUBS).
Chicago Tribune, August 24, 1982:
Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson signed legislation effectively banning night games at Wrigley Field, saying:
I believe that night-time baseball in Wrigley Field would impose an undue hardship on nearly 60,000 residents who live within a four block area of the stadium.
Night-time baseball would increase traffic and parking problems that exist in an already crowded neighborhood. The problem would be compounded during rush hour when spectators would be trying to reach Wrigley Field at the same time neighborhood residents are returning from work.
August 25, 1983:
The Chicago City Council, by a vote of 42-2, passed an ordinance banning lights at Wrigley Field. Before the ban, the Cubs were allowed to have lights but these lights had to be turned off by 8 p.m.
December 19, 1984:
The Cubs take the light fight to Cook County Circuit Court, filing a lawsuit against the City of Chicago and Thompson that would seek an injunction to prevent the city and state from enforcing laws that block night baseball.
March 25, 1985:
Circuit Court Judge Richard L. Curry rules to uphold prohibitions against night baseball. Curry criticized Cubs management and Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, who had threatened to deny the Cubs future postseason games at Wrigley Field if lights were not installed. Curry wrote in his ruling:
On the basis of an alleged necessity to play championship games at night, they ask for a reversal of the status quo which has existed at this ballpark for 70 years.
June 30, 1985:
A Cubs spokesman said the team has given up trying to persuade the General Assembly to allow night games at Wrigley Field. “The lights issue is dead,” the spokesman said. The team considered moving out of Wrigley FiIeld.
February 6, 1987:
Legislation that would allow night games at Wrigley was introduced in Springfield, Ill.
July 2, 1987:
Chicago Mayor Harold Washington gave his strongest support to date on the lights issue, saying regular-season night games “seems within the realm of fairness.”
February. 25, 1988:
With the backing of acting Mayor Eugene Sawyer, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance, 29-19, that the Cubs could play night baseball at Wrigley if they complied with a list of terms. One of those terms was that the Cubs would be limited to 18 night games a season through the year 2002 (eight in 1988). Also, the Cubs would agree to no beer sales after 9:20 p.m. and no organ music after 9:30 p.m.
June 20, 1988:
At a press conference at Wrigley Field, the Cubs announced a slate of seven night games for 1988, to be played on Aug. 8, 9, 22 and 23, and Sept. 6, 7 and 20. The games on Sept. 7 and Sept. 20 were scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. start time. The others were 7:05 p.m. games. The Cubs also announced a phone lottery for the remaining 13,000 tickets for the Aug. 8 game.
August 8, 1988:
Opening Night at Wrigley Field. At 6:06 p.m., 91-year old Harry Grossman, a Cubs fan since 1905, flipped the switch for the first home night game in team history. Philadelphia’s Phil Bradley was the game’s first batter with Rick Sutcliffe’s first pitch coming at 7:01 p.m. Midway through the fourth, the game was stopped by rain. After a two-hour 10-minute delay, the game was called by home plate umpire Eric Gregg.
August 9, 1988:
The first official complete night game at Wrigley Field was played. The Cubs defeated the New York Mets, 6-4. Lenny Dykstra hits the first official homer off Chicago’s Mike Bielecki in the fifth inning.