Twenty five years ago today, my life changed forever. The Cubs had announced that they would play the first night game ever in Wrigley Field on Monday, August 8, 1988. It was going to be an event, and I wanted to be a part of it.
I had put myself in position by spending the summer of 1988 on the Northwestern campus. It was the first time I had spent any significant time away from my parents’ house (the first two years of college didn’t count, in my mind, because I was supposed to be on campus then). In hindsight, it was the start of moving away from living in their house, and toward living on my own. It was a transitional summer, for me and for the Cubs.
Since there wasn’t an internet back then, the tickets for the first night game were sold by phone. I remember calling and calling and calling, over the course of two hours, to no avail. The high call volume crashed the ticket servers, but somehow all of the tickets were sold, and I didn’t have any.
No problem, though, since there were watch parties set up in Chicago. I was planning to go to one with a friend of mine from the dorms. But, as always in those days, libations had to be procured first. There was a liquor store in Chicago that delivered to campus, and an order was placed with them. As my friend and I awaited the arrival of our dear uncle (as we referred to him back then), she indicated that a sorority sister of hers would be joining us for the evening. That’s fine, I said, the more the merrier.
The liquor delivery never arrived, and the game started but was eventually rained out, and the girl that was my friend’s sorority sister became my girlfriend and then, four years later, my wife. We’ve now been married for 21 years, and have known each other for 25. I tell my two daughters that it was the all-important day that set their existences into motion.
Night games at Wrigley aren’t uncommon anymore, and those who remember otherwise will one day become a vanishing breed. But that first night game will stay with me the rest of my days, and I’m so very glad that I wasn’t able to get any tickets for it.