On this day in 1988 Wrigley Field finally joined the 20th Century. The great American ballpark that is Wrigley finally hosted a night game under the lights. Wrigley Field was opened on April 23, 1914 under the name of Weeghman Park. The ballpark underwent many changes through the years but the most important was installing lights. A total of 5,687 consecutive day games where played there before they held a night game.
The Philadelphia Phillies were the Cubs opponents on this night. The game had a scheduled start time of 7:05pm. A pregame ceremony took place prior to the game in which a long time Cubs fan was able to hit a button to turn on the lights. The interesting not about this game it was never an official game. The game was halted in the fourth inning because of rain at 8:14pm. The game was officially called off at 10:25pm.
The first full game under the light would take place the following night on August 9, 1988. The Cubs defeated the New York Mets in that contest by a score of 6-4. Wrigley had a deal with the city of Chicago for many years following to only play around 20 night games a season. The reason for this was with the ballpark being located in a residential area of the city the lights would affect the local residents from sleeping at night.
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In 1957, ten years after the Brooklyn Dodgers helped Jackie Robinson break the color barrier in the Major Leagues, they had their 67th and final season in New York. The Dodgers, just two years removed from their first World Series Championship, were seeking another title. Meanwhile, their team President, Walter O’Malley, was seeking a new stadium in the same borough the team had occupied since the last part of the 19th Century.
Ebbets Filed in Brooklyn, NY (Getty Images)
The once great Ebbets Field, which the team had called home since 1913, was not a suitable ballpark anymore. The stadium did not have enough seating to produce the amount of revenue a Major League team needed. There was also little to no vehicle parking around the stadium. This frustrated O’Malley, who was seeking a new privately funded stadium in the Atlantic Yards section of Brooklyn. This plan was shot down by New York City Building Commissioner Robert Moses. Instead, Moses proposed a new stadium in Flushing Meadows, which is in the borough of Queens. That site would later be home to Shea Stadium and currently, Citi Field. O’Malley refused the offer from Moses and sought another location for his team.
Former Dodgers President Walter O’Malley. (Getty Images)
While O’Malley was battling Moses over stadium plans, the season continued. The Dodgers finished their final season with a record of 84 wins and 70 losses. The team finished in third place in the National League. Centerfielder Duke Snider was the bright spot for the Dodgers in the 1957 season. Snider batted .274 with 40 home runs and 92 RBIs. He also hit his 300th career home run on July 20th.
While the city of New York was not willing to accommodate the Dodgers, the city of Los Angeles was more than willing to be their new home. Los Angeles was offering O’Malley everything he wanted, a new Stadium with ample seating and more parking space than the Dodgers would ever need. The most important part of the offer was a city with leaders who were willing to work with the franchise to make them happy. Before the season was complete, it was official; the Dodgers were moving to California.
The Dodgers won their final game at Ebbets Field on September 24th. The Dodgers had many seasons where they did not enter the postseason. This season was different, and the fans could no longer look forward to next season. It was over and the city’s beloved team in blue was history. The loss of the Dodgers crushed Brooklyn’s heart when they left for Los Angeles and the city has never been the same since.
Brooklyn baseball fans vilified O’Malley for moving the team. Many of those fans did not know the politics of the move. Many years later, it became more clear that the city of New York did not help O’Malley keep the team in Brooklyn. O’Malley tried his hardest but it just was not enough, and he had to do what was best for the franchise. It has been 65 years since the Dodgers called Brooklyn home, but all of the old fans that grew up with them still consider the Dodgers their home team.
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