Jamie Moyer Started Last Cubs’ Game Before Lights Went on at Wrigley

On Sunday, August 7, 1988, Jamie Moyer was on the bump for the Chicago Cubs. According to Baseball Reference, it was a hot 90-degree day in Chicago. It would be the end of an era, as the following day saw the first ever night game — albeit incomplete due to rain — under the new light towers at Wrigley Field. The historical record was wiped clean of this game, because the rains washed it away in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Cubs management and ownership had, for years previously, been in favor of installing lights at Wrigley. As noted, with some humor, in the movie Field Of Dreams, Shoeless Joe Jackson — played by Ray Liotta — even saw this as a power play by ownership to make more money. After all, more people can attend night games.

Many of the Wrigleyville residents, aided by the Illinois General Assembly and the Chicago City Council, had pushed legislation essentially banning night games, starting in 1982. This postponed the installation of lights for six years. Cubs’ brass finally triumphed in 1988. Their victory was due in part to rumors they would move the team to the Chicago suburbs, something that surely struck fear in a fan base that has consistently shown fealty to their lovable losers over decades of heartbreak and letdowns. The decision to finally install lights was also fostered by an ironic threat in a mandate from Major League Baseball. Peter Ueberroth’s office came with some serious (yet still ironic) regulatin’ by saying that if the Cubs were to reach the World Series and still didn’t have lights at Wrigley, they would have to play their home games at an alternate site with lights. Under duress, the strong-willed citizens of Wrigleyville relented and the light towers were erected. Now, hear me out Cubs fans, I don’t say this to push the knife in further to your suffering hearts, but that threat from the Commissioner could have rung empty for years to come.

Trust me, I wish that y’all would’ve made it in 2003. Both the NLCS and ALCS broke my mind and my heart, and nearly my soul, that postseason. I dreamt for months of what could have been a Red Sox-Cubs World Series and, honestly, appreciate either team’s historical victory.

Now, back to Moyer. The 1988 season was his third (second full) season. In his start before the lights, he gave up two home runs. Chris James and Lance Parrish both took Moyer deep to left field, in the second and fifth innings, respectively. The two homers were the 51st and 52nd of his Major League record 522 homers surrendered.

Moyer was 25 years old that summer, and he would finish the season with a 9-15 record and 3.48 ERA. A few months prior to this historical day, my sister had graduated from high school with a 3.87 GPA, fairly outperforming Moyer. I was getting ready for the eighth grade, where I posted a similarly high GPA of 3.8. Unfortunately, my first year of high school would see some steep regression for me, but I would rebound. Fortunately for me, I got to spend a number of Moyer’s best years with him here in Seattle.

What I find interesting, possibly funny, is that the Cubs are playing an early afternoon game on Sunday, the 27th anniversary of the first night game at Wrigley. May the obstinance continue so that the Cubs can play in the sun long enough to make it to the World Series.

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