Here’s Why WWII Kept The Cubs From Getting Lights For 47 Years
Depending on your age, it might seem like night games have always been a thing at Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs--or, you vividly remember the time when there were absolutely no lights, right up to their installation in 1988 (this year, 2023, marks the 35th anniversary).
I fall into the second group, as I clearly remember many years of no night games. I also remember that there was a certain percentage of Cubs fans who were unhappy that Wrigley Field finally changed all that on August 8th, 1988. They thought (maybe still) that daytime baseball was the way God and Abner Doubleday meant it to be.
Turns Out That Wrigley Field Would Have Had Lights A Lot Sooner If It Weren't For A Famous Historical Event And Its Aftermath
The fact that the Chicago Cubs didn't add lighting to Wrigley Field until the late 1980s was proof to some that the Cubs were way behind the times, but when you consider that Bill Veeck added ivy to the outfield walls in 1937 (the scoreboard and bleachers went in that year, too), and the Cubs added the first ballpark organist in the majors in 1941, maybe they weren't so behind in everything...just the lights.
Back in 1941, Cubs owner Phil (or, P.K.) Wrigley thought that there might be some money to be made by offering games for the after-work crowd in Chicago, which would require lighting.
But, Then This Happened, And Everything Changed
Phil Wrigley Had Secured All The Materials For Lighting At Wrigley Field When The U.S. Entered WWII
What does WWII have to do with lighting up a ballpark in Chicago? The one-word answer would be materials.
But on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the USA found itself joining World War II. The next day, Wrigley donated 165 tons of steel and 35,000 feet of copper wire that had been meant for new light standards at Wrigley Field for the war effort.
"We felt that this material could be more useful in lighting flying fields, munitions plants or other war defense plants under construction," Wrigley said.
Thanks to, or because of Phil Wrigley's patriotism, Cubs fans ended up waiting until 1988 to see this: