From the Pages of Vine Line Remembering 1998 – Game 163

Fifteen years ago, the 1998 Cubs squad became the must-see event of the summer, as viewers around the country tuned in to WGN to see Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood and the cardiac Cubs stage one of the most dramatic seasons in Chicago baseball history. Day after day, it seemed like the team was in a dogfight, and every win turned out to be vital, as the Cubs need an extra, 163rd contest to finalize their postseason push and give Chicago fans their first taste of meaningful October baseball in nearly a decade.

To commemorate all the ups and downs, Vine Line celebrates our 10 greatest moments from that historic 1998 campaign in the October issue of the magazine. Today marks the ninth part of the 10-part series, which we’ll post here on the blog in the coming days.

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

9/26/98 – Game 163

The home matchup with the Giants on Sept. 28 was more than just a game. It was a single-elimination, winner-take-all battle royale to determine who would claim the NL Wild Card and move on to face the waiting Braves in the Division Series. There was a nearly unprecedented buzz at Wrigley Field. It had been almost 10 years since postseason excitement had come to the Friendly Confines, and fans were primed for the occasion.

“From the moment [I showed] up at the ballpark late in the afternoon, [there was] just this electricity I had never really seen at Wrigley before,” said Trachsel, that night’s starter. “The excitement of what winning the game would mean for our team and the organization and the city—and the number of people out on the street—I had never really seen that before in my time there.”

Gary Gaetti got the offense going with a two-run bomb in the fifth, and Trachsel departed with a 4-0 lead after surrendering his first hit of the game in the top of the seventh. Though the Giants scored three in the ninth off Kevin Tapani and Terry Mulholland, Rod Beck came in to shut the door for the Cubs, who held on for a 5-3 victory and their first postseason appearance since 1989.

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