Tag Archives: Chicago

Wrigley Field – “Turn On The Lights!”

wrigley

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.

Historic Rookies: “Shoeless” Joe Jackson In 1911

Many baseball fans consider the Legendary outfielder “Shoeless” Joe Jackson to be one of the greatest players ever. He had a very good career but unfortunately is most remembered as a member of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. One of the most impressive parts of his career is one that is often overlooked, the beginning.

The Legendary "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

The Legendary “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

Joe Jackson began his major league career in 1908 with the Philadelphia Athletics. He would end his time with the Athletics after the 1909 season. During his two seasons with the club he only played in ten games. With 40 total at bats he only reach base 7 times. He would start the 1910 season with the minor league New Orleans Pelicans but signed on to the Major League Cleveland Naps at the end of the season. He finished playing 20 games and had 75 at bats, 29 hits and a batting average of .387. It was clear following the 1910 season that Jackson had great potential.

Joe Jackson returned to the Naps in 1911 for his first full season in the Major Leagues. Jackson played a total of 147 games and led the Naps to 80-73 record (3rd best in the American League). Jackson had one of the greatest rookie seasons baseball has ever seen with a rookie batting average record of .408. His batting average in 1911 stands as the second best single season batting record to this day. Jackson notched 233 hits, 7 home runs and batted in 83 runs. “Shoeless” Joe showed everyone a preview of how great his career would become. He was traded from the Naps to the Chicago White Sox during the 1915 season.

Joe Jackson was banned from baseball following the 1919 Black Sox scandal that tarnished the name of baseball. When his career was finished he had a career bating average of .356, 1,772 hits, 54 home runs and 785 RBI’s. He would be in the Hall Of Fame today if not for the controversy he found himself in following the 1919 World Series. Over one hundred years after “Shoeless” Joe amazed the baseball world he legend still lives on and will be remembered forever.

Michael Jordan: The Flu Game

In 1997 Michael Jordan had already amassed a career of incredible highlights and amazing records.  He had won 4 NBA titles, awarded as the NBA’s MVP 4 times and named the NBA Finals MVP 4 times.  His legacy was already set to be considered one of the greatest basketball players of all times.  Up to that point he had many memorable moments.  The most notable was the game against the Cavaliers in the NBA Playoffs were he made “The Shot” in 1989.  One of the last memorable moments and possibly the biggest of his career came in the 1997 NBA Finals.

On June 11, 1997 the Chicago Bulls took on the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was Game 5 of the NBA Finals and the series was tied at 2-2.  The day before the game Michael Jordan became severely ill.  Jordan had a fever and was not able to keep any food down.  He was found in the fetal position by his trainer and was very fatigued.  Many who were close to the situation believed there was no way he would play the next day.

Michael Jordan during "The Flu Game"  (Gety Images"

Michael Jordan during “The Flu Game” (Gety Images”

When the game started Michael Jordan was visibly weak and pale in color.  The Bulls fell to an early 16-point deficit in the second quarter and with Jordan not feeling well were in a hole.  At halftime the score was 53-49 in favor of the Jazz. The third quarter found Jordan on the bench trying to rest and looking in even worse shape than he had at the beginning of the game.  When the fourth quarter began Jordan was back in the game and scored 15 of the Bulls 23 points in the final quarter of the game. The most dramatic plays of the game came in the final minute.  Jordan was able to make a 3-pointer to give the Bulls a 88-85 lead with just 25 seconds remaining in the game.  The next play was a dunk by Greg Ostertag of the Jazz which took the Bulls lead to only one point.  The Bulls were able to raise the score again with a dunk by Luc Longley.  With just a few seconds remaining and the Jazz down by 3 points John Stockton was fouled and was now at the free throw line.  He needed to make both free throws for the Jazz to be able to stay in the game.  When he missed the first free throw the game was sealed.  The Bulls had over come this daunting game and won by a score of 90-88.  Michael Jordan then collapsed into Scottie Pippen’s arms, this image would forever be considered the trademark picture for this game.  Jordan finished the game with 39 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists.

Scottie Pippen holding a weak Michael Jordan in the final seconds of "The Flu Game"  (Getty Images)

Scottie Pippen holding a weak Michael Jordan in the final seconds of “The Flu Game” (Getty Images)

The Bulls would go on to win Game 6 and their 5th NBA Title. It has been reported in later years that he did not have the flu but instead had food poisoning.  Regardless of that fact this game was an incredible show of strength and determination for Michael Jordan.  Jordan will be remembered long after his days on this earth and this game will be considered one of his best for all future generations who will read about him.

On This Day In 1998: “Kerry Wood Throws 20 Strike Outs”

On May 6, 1998 history was made at one of baseballs most historic ballparks Wrigley Field.  The game was between the visiting Houston Astros and the beloved home town heroes the Chicago Cubs.  Pitching for the Cubs that days was a young right handed pitch named Kerry Wood.  Wood had made his Major League debut just one month earlier and was about to shock the baseball world.

In front of the crowd of 15,758 fans Kerry Wood was set to face an Atros team with former All Stars and a couple of potential Hall Of Fame Players.  Players like Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio headlined the line up for the Astros that day.

Kerry Wood during his 20K performance in 1998. (Getty Images)

Kerry Wood during his 20K performance in 1998. (Getty Images)

Wood struck out every player in the Astros line up at least once during the game.  During his nine inning pitching clinic he gave up only one hit and his Cubs committed no errors.  When the smoke cleared Wood had thrown a record tying 20 strike outs.  The crowd was electrified from the excitement of this rare accomplishment.

Kerry Wood went on to have a respectable career with Cubs, Indians and the Yankees.  He had two stints with the Chicago Cubs and in the last half of his career was a closer.  He played his final game on May 18, 2012 with the Cubs, 14 years after making history.  He became the 1998 National League Rookie Of The Year and a two time All-Star (2003, 2008).  Wood retired with a career record of 86-75 , 3.67 and 1,582 strike outs.

Kerry Wood saying goodbye to the Wrigley Field crowd in his final game on May 18, 2012. (Getty Images)

Kerry Wood saying goodbye to the Wrigley Field crowd in his final game on May 18, 2012. (Getty Images)

The only other player to have struck out 20 batters in a single game was Roger Clemens, he did so in 1986 and 1996.  Only Eight players have pitched 18 or more strike outs in a game.  This record has not been matched or broken since Kerry Wood joined Roger Clemens on the top of this list.

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson And The 1919 World Series

On October 1, 1919 the World Series began at Redland Field in Cincinnati, OH in front of a crowd of 30,511 fans.  The teams on the field were the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. No one knew that day that what they were witnessing would later beconsidered the most controversial World Series ever.  When the Series was finished on October 9, 1919 the Reds were crowned Champions by winning five games in the best of nine Series.  Baseball fans all over the country were shocked ass the White Sox were considered the best team in baseball by many.  What unfolded in the next 2 years following the 1919 World Series has been chronicled very heavily in the last ninety years.  

In 1920 it became public the that eight players on the 1919 Chicago White Sox team might have intentionally thrown the World Series.  The allegation was that these players had conspired with gamblers to throw the Series in exchange for a payoff of $5,000 each.  The case was later investigated by a Grand Jury to determine what exactly happened and if any criminal acts had been committed.

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

The most prominent of those eight players was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.  Jackson’s involvement made the story even more interesting.  Jackson is considered one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game.  In his 23 season career he batted .375, collected 1,772 hits, 54 home runs and 785 RBI’s.  

In 1921 the Grand Jury convinced in Chicago and eventually acquitted all eight players of committing any crime.  Shortly thereafter The Commissioner Of Baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned all eight players from the game of baseball for life.  Landis logic was even though the players had been acquitted, they left a black eye of the game of baseball and must be thrown out in order to clean up baseball’s image.  Because of this action one of the greatest baseball players ever is not allowed in The National Baseball Hall of Fame, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

His performance during the 1919 World Series was very impressive.  During the eight games Jackson had 12 hits, batted .375 and committed no errors.  He had the most hits and highest batting average of any player on either team.  To think he was involved in the throwing of the world series is unfathomable.  His play told a completely different story, one of a man playing his heart out and trying to help his team win.

The fact that a Grand Jury acquitted the eight players is also a strong statement.  Landis felt like he had to make a statement about the supposed infraction that had occurred.  Landis went too far by banning the players for life and ruining any possibility that these players could be immortalized in the Hall of Fame.  Many baseball fans hold out hope that one day the ban will be lifted by a future Commissioner of Baseball and “Shoeless” Joe will be able to take his place where he deserves to be, the Hall Of Fame.

MLB Opening Day: The Only No Hitter

The opening day of the baseball season has been filled with historic moments and happenings.  Moments like Hank Aaron tying Babe Ruth’s home run record and Ted Williams hitting .449 in all of his opening day game appearances.  One of these milestones happened in 1940 and has yet to be repeated on the day that starts the long baseball season, a no hitter.

On April 16, 1940 at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Hall Of Fame pitcher Bob Feller made the history books when he threw his first no hitter.  Completing a no hitter as a pitcher is incredible enough but there is another element that makes this feat even more incredible, this is the only occurrence of a no hitter on Opening Day.  On that day Feller pitched his Cleveland Indians to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.  The eventual game winning run was scored by the Indians in the 4th inning when Jeff Heath scored on a Rollie Hemsley hit.  The losing pitcher that day was Eddie Smith.

Bob Feller would have two more no hitters in his career before he retired in 1956.  Those came in the 1946 and 1951 seasons against the Yankees and Tigers.  Bob Feller was inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1962.  Feller amassed 266 wins and 162 loses and threw 2,581 strikeouts.  An interensting note to his career is that he also threw 12 one hit games on top of his three no hitters.

The Pursuit Of Baseball In Tampa

The State of Florida has been the home of Spring Training since the early part of the 1900s. Up until 1993 Florida never had a professional baseball team to call their own.  The Florida Marlins who were based in the Miami area were the first.  The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were soon to follow in 1998.  But Florida has a deep history of pursuing Major League Baseball before they received their teams in the 1990s.
It started in 1983 in the Tampa Bay area when local city officials considered building a baseball stadium to house a pro team.  Construction began in 1986 on what is now known as Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.  It was completed in 1990.  At the time there were no expansion franchises being granted for any city.  So they sought a team the best way they could, trying to lure a team from their current city.
Tropicana Filed,  The stadium that would bring baseball to the Tampa Bay area. (Getty Images)

Tropicana Filed, The stadium that would bring baseball to the Tampa Bay area. (Getty Images)

The Chicago White Sox were the first team that Tampa pursued.  In 1989 The White Sox were not happy in the old Comiskey Park and wanted a new stadium.  They flirted with Tampa for a while before ultimately getting their new stadium and staying in Chicago.
The next team that was rumored was the Seattle Mariners.  The talks did not go very far and the Mariners remained in Washington.
Tampa had their hearts broken in 1991 when they were denied an expansion franchise.  The Miami area won out instead of Tampa and the Florida Marlins came into existence.  The Marlins played the first ever regular season game in Florida in April of 1993.
The closest that Tampa ever came to stealing a team away from a city was in 1993.  The San Francisco Giants owners were looking to sell and a group of investors from Tampa were looking to buy them.   The deal was almost done.  The local baseball fans were already celebrating and then the bad news came.  The sale was vetoed by the National League Owners.  The Giants remained in San Francisco and Tampa was still without a team.
That was until in 1995 when they were granted an expansion franchise.  The Tampa Bay Devil Rays played their first regular season game in 1998.
The past does make one wonder how different things would be if the White Sox, Mariners or Giants would have relocated to Tampa.  If the White Sox or Mariners would have moved would there have been a team in Miami in 1993?  Probably not, there more than likely would have been years later though.  The Giants move would have been interesting.  The city of San Francisco would probably have a different team right now.  There is no way that City would be without a team for too long, not with their tradition and history.

It’s really incredible how things turned out for Tampa.  They took a huge risk by building a stadium without having a team for it.  For many years they looked like failures.  Many in the city thought they would never have a team to call their own.  But Tampa proved to be very persistent and got what they wanted in the end.