Monday, August 8, 2011

This Day In History

On this day in 1988, the Chicago Cubs host the first night game in the history of Wrigley Field.

At 6:05 p.m., 91-year-old Cubs fan Harry Grossman began the countdown. "Three . . . two . . . one . . . Let there be lights!" Grossman pressed a button, and to the cheers of thousands of fans, six light towers flickered to life. Night baseball had come to Wrigley Field.

It had taken six years of arguing, cajoling and bluffing to bring lights to Wrigley, which for years had been the only major league baseball park where night games could not be played.

Starting pitcher Rick Sutcliffe was nearly blinded by the thousands of flashbulbs that went off as he delivered the first pitch. Perhaps that was why Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Phil Bradley deposited Sutcliffe's fourth pitch into the bleachers. Then, with the Cubs leading 3-1 in the fourth inning, the rains came. Not a light drizzle, but a downpour. After a two-hour rain delay, the game was called, obliterating it from the record books. "This proves that the Cubs are cursed," said one fan, as she ran from the ballpark. The following morning, the Tribune editorialized, "Someone up there seems to take day baseball seriously."

The first complete night game at Wrigley Field took place the following evening. The Cubs beat the Mets 6-4.

Also on this day:

President Richard M. Nixon resigns.

In an evening televised address, President Richard M. Nixon announces his intention to become the first president in American history to resign. With impeachment proceedings underway against him for his involvement in the Watergate affair, Nixon was finally bowing to pressure from the public and Congress to leave the White House. "By taking this action," he said in a solemn address from the Oval Office, "I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America."
Just before noon the next day, Nixon officially ended his term as the 37th president of the United States. Before departing with his family in a helicopter from the White House lawn, he smiled farewell and enigmatically raised his arms in a victory or peace salute. The helicopter door was then closed, and the Nixon family began their journey home to San Clemente, California. Minutes later, Vice President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States in the East Room of the White House.

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