A Great Day for Baseball, Let’s Play Two

As a kid, I grew up a Cubs fan. There were no Arizona Diamondbacks and living in the frozen wasteland of Idaho, there were no local teams to give my allegiance to. But every Saturday I would be glued to the television to watch the game of the week. I grew up idolizing Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and of course Mr. Cub himself Ernie Banks. I listened as Joe Garagiola gave color analysis and told us what it was like to be a big league ball player. I watched as they showed the crowd just beyond the ivy covered walls at Wrigley Field. I sat in front of the television wearing my Cubs hat, my mitt in my hand and my baseball cards spread out in front of me. To me, day baseball is the purest form of the game and no better way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.

As television became more popular and the networks began to get more influence on the game, we began to see a decline in the number of teams that played during the day. Television determined that baseball would be best served in primetime after dinner. Slowly each team scheduled more and more of their games during the evening hours. For the longest time the Cubs withstood that trend. Part of that was because Wrigley did not have lights and therefore they could not play night games and that was ok with me. As a boy I did not get to attend a big league game, we never traveled anywhere near a major league city when on vacation so I remained a loyal fan by television and radio. After I got married, I found out Trina’s sister lived in Indiana just over the Illinois border. In 1984 we made the trip there and it just so happened that the Cubs were in town. We bought tickets and sat in the upper deck on the first base side. The wind was blowing out that day and it was one of the coldest days I can remember but it didn’t matter because I was at Wrigley Field and while the game had different players, I could remember the days as a boy imagining this very moment. It was all that I dreamed of and more. The ivy was greener, the grass was longer, and the hot dogs were even more delicious than I ever dreamed. And Harry Carey was even more colorful in person than he was on television. His rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame resonated throughout the stands and fans cheered regardless of whether the Cubs were winning or losing.

But even Wrigley succumbed to the lure of the night game. Lights were installed at Wrigley Field on August 8, 1988 and the last ballpark in Major League Baseball was now playing at night. At first the agreement was that only a few games per year would be played at night but as time has gone on, that number has increased each year. During this home stand with the Arizona Diamondbacks, there would be only one day game and that would be the final game. This was more of a get away travel requirement than it was tradition. That did not deter me though, I planned on enjoying every moment of seeing day baseball. When the Diamondbacks and Cubs were rained out yesterday it became even more special because that meant a double header. Ernie was right, it is a great day for baseball and we should play two. It would have been perfect if only the Diamondbacks would have won both games.

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