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Random question about the '84 postseason


Mu'ayyidSaafir

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Someone told me that had the Cubs won the NLCS against the Padres, their home games in the World Series would have been played in St. Louis because the TV contract called for the games to be played at night, but Wrigley had no lights at the time. Is this true, and if so, why would they not have played them at Comiskey? I know there was greater separation between AL and NL then, but it still strikes me as ridiculous that they would make Cubs fans drive four hours to St. Louis when there was a perfectly good, light-equipped stadium in the city, albeit an AL park. Even Milwaukee would have been a lot closer. Can anyone clear this up?

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I am probably wrong about this because I am going by memory, but I seem to remember they were planning on playing the Cubs at home for games 3, 4 and 5 on the weekend, during the day. (So Friday Sat and Sun day games or something). I don't recall them moving it to another stadium. The controversy was it was the NL team's year to get 4 home games, which the Cubs would have lost out on because of the lack of lights, so perhaps someone had the idea to move the games elsewhere so the Cubs would have home field advantage.

HOpe that helps. Davearm or others I am sure will be able to correct me/fill in the blans.

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I think the network (think it was NBC back then but unsure) wanted the games at night.

Seems like they could have just trucked in lights, though, like they did for the first night game at Wrigley a few years later. Perhaps that happened as a result of people thinking about this situation.

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Seems like they could have just trucked in lights, though, like they did for the first night game at Wrigley a few years later.

They couldn't because there was a Chicago city ordinance prohibiting night events at Wrigley Field which had to be amended before the Cubs could play any night games at all.

There's a section on night baseball in the Wrigley Field section at Wikipedia.

The Cubs had been run almost like a hobby by the Wrigleys, but the Tribune Company was interested in the Cubs strictly as a business. The new owners started talking about lights and began stirring debate on the matter. One of P.K.'s stated reasons for not installing lights was that it would upset the neighborhood, and the initial negative reaction to the Tribune Company's intentions validated P.K.'s prediction.

Resistance to the installation of lights was not limited to those who lived nearby and opposed the lights on the practical grounds of bothersome brightness or the noise and crowds from night games. Many Cubs fans who lived outside Wrigleyville opposed the idea simply due to the fact that the Cubs' stance as the last team to resist night baseball was a point of pride, as it was seen as a vestige of baseball's heritage as a pastoral game, played in natural sunlight. Some Cubs fans also had fond associations with Gabby Hartnett's famous "Homer in the Gloaming," in which Hartnett hit a crucial home run in the bottom of the ninth of a game on the verge of being called for darkness, helping the Cubs to win the 1938 pennant.

The City of Chicago had passed an ordinance banning night events at Wrigley Field, due to its presence in the residential Lakeview neighborhood, so the Tribune Co. was unable to install lights unless the ordinance was repealed. They compromised by scheduling a significant number of 3:00 starts, which typically carried games into the evening but did not require lights for games that completed within three hours or so.

This debate continued for several years, and became more intense as the Cubs returned to competitiveness during the early 1980s. When the Cubs won the National League Eastern Division title in 1984, then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced that the Cubs would lose home field advantage should they advance to the World Series (home field advantage alternated between the champions of the National League and American League until 2003), since by this time nearly all World Series games were played at night in the Eastern and Central time zones. After winning their two scheduled home (day) games in the National League Championship Series, the Cubs lost all three games in San Diego, so Kuhn's threat became moot. But the next year, new commissioner Peter Ueberroth announced that because Wrigley Field had no lights, the Cubs would have to play all postseason games at another ballpark, probably St. Louis' Busch Stadium, but also possibly at Milwaukee County Stadium or Comiskey Park. However, the Cubs fell out of contention for the next several years, and the possibility of playing post-season "home" games in other cities did not arise.

The Cubs, under team president Dallas Green quickly changed the issue from lights vs. no lights to Wrigley Field or move out of town. With typical bluntness, Green said, "if there are no lights in Wrigley Field, there will be no Wrigley Field." Green seriously considered shuttering Wrigley and playing at Comiskey Park for a year, in hopes that the neighborhood would feel the loss of revenue and back down. The Cubs also explored moving to several suburban locations, including a site adjacent to Arlington Park in Arlington Heights and another in Schaumburg. The Cubs' new stance quickly changed the context of the debate, as no one wanted to be responsible for the Cubs leaving for the suburbs.

In the Fall of 1987, Chicago mayor Harold Washington proposed a compromise ordinance to the Chicago City Council providing for the Cubs to install lights but play a limited night schedule. Washington died a week after the compromise was proposed, but the city eventually approved a compromise in February 1988 under interim mayor Eugene Sawyer. Major League Baseball responded by awarding the Cubs the 1990 All-Star Game.

.... Starting with their first full season with lights, in 1989, as part of the compromise with the city, the Cubs were limited to 18 night games within their 81-game regular season schedule, plus any post-season games that might have to be played at night for TV scheduling reasons.

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Thanks Migrant. So it appears my memory is not wrong, but Mu'ayyidSaafir's friend is not crazy.

then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced that the Cubs would lose home field advantage should they advance to the World Series
But the next year, new commissioner Peter Ueberroth announced that because Wrigley Field had no lights, the Cubs would have to play all postseason games at another ballpark, probably St. Louis' Busch Stadium, but also possibly at Milwaukee County Stadium or Comiskey Park.
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Thanks Migrant. So it appears my memory is not wrong, but Mu'ayyidSaafir's friend is not crazy.

Google is your friend. I remembered that Chicago used to have an ordinance which prohibited night games at Wrigley, but I'd forgotten all about the commissioners applying pressure 20-30 years ago to get Wrigley the right to install and use lights. Google filled in most of the missing pieces in my memory.

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