Remembering 8/8/88 with the Cubs Front Office
In our daily morning meeting we were weighing different options on how to properly commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the first (unofficial) night game at Wrigley Field. In 1988, Zach Martin, our intern was 3. So, of course it made perfect sense for him to reminiscence that night.
So, instead, we decided to get the viewpoints of Cubs staff that were there at the time.
Scott Nelson, Director, Baseball Administration
Leading up to it
“Forever, nobody thought there would be lights at Wrigley Field. It was just something that Wrigley was known for — the day baseball. There was such controversy getting lights in the first place. Then we finally knew there were going to be lights. We went through the process of the first half of the year with the lights going up. The lights being installed was exciting as everyone in the neighborhood could see the helicopters coming in and the lights going up in the anticipation of the light going up… In terms of playoffs and the World Series the commissioner [Peter Ueberroth] in 1984 when we made the playoffs told us If you plan on being in the postseason you needed to have those lights. It is just a necessity in today’s world.”
The Statler Brothers, seriously
“In fact the Statler Brothers used to have a song called “Don’t Wait on Me” and it was all these things that would never happen and one of the lines in the song was “when the lights go on at Wrigley Field, I’ll be comin’ home to you.” They had to change their song. At that point they said “when a dome goes over Wrigley Field.” But it was funny. It was just one of those things — lights at Wrigley Field, unheard-of. I might have that song actually.” Scott then grabbed his I-Pod and played the song for me.
Actual Video of Statler Brothers singing “Don’t Wait on Me”
Tom Hellmann, Cubs Clubhouse Manager
“Just turning them on was very exciting. When the old guy [Harry Grossman] turned on the lights…The overall excitement of the whole thing. That we finally got lights after all those years. That was exciting, just the whole event itself leading up to it. Watching them build the lights and put them up. It was very exciting, being here and brining in a new era….It was festive. It was party-city, like it is everyday now. It was a dawn, no, dusk of a new era, as I should say.”
Good for the team
“I knew it helped the team in the long run. Playing the day games wears on you as it is, with the heat and stuff. I thought it would be better for the team as in their chances of making the postseason more often.”
Randy Skocz, Office Services Coordinator
“Everybody was running around, everybody was buzzing….I was doing a little security work that night, so I was on the field just prior to game time. Just the light bulbs flashing, just the buzz in the air was amazing. At that point I had not witnessed a playoff game here, so that was as close as it came to playoffs.”
“It was very similar to Opening Day. People were very intense and very tense. The place was just packed. The outside was just packed and everyone was just coming in at four and the gates weren’t open till five. We had special programs for that night. It was quite a spectacle. Lot of celebrities were here. It was the thing. 8/8/88, man.”
Gary Stark, Cubs Clubhouse Assistant
“It was fun. It was like the World Series. People were pumped up. Everybody wanted a ticket to the game…The best memory was the lights being turned on at Wrigley. I had been here so long and never thought I would see lights. Then boom there it was. I loved it.”
How it changed things for him (Gary worked in the visiting clubhouse at the time)
“[I got to come] in later to work. Day games we’re here at about six or seven. Now we can come in at one….The Mets were our next team. It was weird preparing for the Mets after a get away night game [for the Phillies] in the visiting clubhouse.”