September 2, 2017— On August 28th, Gary Pressy (age 59) graced the keys of the Lowrey organ at Wrigley Field, enhancing a great evening of baseball for the 38,453 fans who came to watch the Cubs defeat the Pirates 6-1. The game marked his 2,500th consecutive performance. Pressy has played the organ at every Cubs home game since he became the sole organist at Wrigley field in 1987. Gary celebrated the occasion by singing “Take Me Out to The Ballgame” (while playing the organ) during the seventh-inning stretch—for only the second time in his thirty-one seasons as organist. His first vocal performance was just over a year ago, at his 2,400th game. Follow Gary on Twitter at @GaryPressy.
The first-ever night game at Wrigley Field was scheduled for 8-8-88 (August 8, 1988, at 6:05 PM) against the Phillies. Prior to July 1988, when installation of the lights was completed, Wrigley Field had for years been the only Major League ballpark that lacked the lighting necessary for night games.1 The Wrigleyville neighbors had long resisted the installation of lights, believing that the noise from night baseball would diminish the quality of life in the neighborhood. Eventually, after years of debate, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance authorizing eighteen night games per year at Wrigley Field.
Things got off to a rocky start in the fist inning when Cubs pitcher, Rick Sutcliffe, gave up a home run to Phil Bradley, the first batter he faced. (In fairness, Sutcliffe’s vision may have been effected by the thousands of camera flashes that were fired as he delivered the first pitch.) Sutcliffe got out of the inning with no further damage, and Ryne Sandburg hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, putting the Cubs up 2-1. This happened immediately after a thwarted attempt by “Morganna the Kissing Bandit” to accost Sandburg.
Long story short, at 8:14 PM, in the bottom of the fourth inning with the Cubs up 3-1, it started to rain. Hard. (Officially, 1.19 inches of rain fell between 8:14 PM and shortly after midnight.) At 10:25 PM, following some impromptu body surfing on the waterlogged, tarp-covered mound by Greg Maddux and others, the game was called—just six outs shy of an official game. The Cubs Organization’s well-crafted plan to hold the first night game on 8-8-88 was not to be realized.
The first official game under the lights happened the next evening—on August 9th—when the Cubs defeated the Mets 6-4.
1 The first club to install lighting for night games was the Cincinnati Reds, who played their first game under the lights at Crosby Field on May 24, 1935.
The legendary Great Chicago Fire of 1871 raged from Sunday, October 8 until the early morning hours on Tuesday, October 10. The fire destroyed about 3 1/3 square miles of downtown Chicago, killing about 300 people. More than 100,000 residents lost their homes in the fire.
An artist’s rendering of the fire by Currier and Ives (1871); looking northeast from the west side of the Randolph Street Bridge across the Chicago River.