Constable: It turns out Wrigley Field night games are good for Cubs

I'm one of those Chicago Cubs fans.

I believe that outfield walls are better when they are covered in ivy. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing AstroTurf and the designated hitter. I believe in Ernie's mantra of "Let's play two," that no one is faster than the guys putting up the balls and strikes in the manual scoreboard in Wrigley Field, and that it is more fun to speculate how far Anthony Rizzo's home run went than to see its exit velocity displayed on a giant video screen. I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses, but I think that Crash Davis was wrong to suggest in "Bull Durham" that such kisses should last three days. And I believe baseball was meant to be played under bright sunshine on summer afternoons with a soft breeze blowing out to Waveland Avenue.

So I'm surprised by what I found out about night games at Wrigley Field.

That first game under the lights at Wrigley Field on Aug. 8, 1988 (8/8/88), might have been the most festive. The oldest season-ticket holder, 91-year-old Harry Grossman, got the honor of flicking the switch to turn on the lights, but that happened when the sun was still shining brightly, so the effect was underwhelming. Equally underwhelming was the overly endowed Morganna "The Kissing Bandit" Roberts, whose attempt to bounce across the field and kiss Cubs slugger Ryne Sandberg was interrupted by security guards, who prematurely ejected her from the playing field.

The game didn't get interesting until the heavens opened. The grounds crew hauled out the blue tarp and the rain turned it into a giant Slip 'N Slide for superstar pitcher Greg Maddux, catcher Jody Davis, and pitchers Les Lancaster and Al Nipper, whose energetic slides drew cheers from a soggy crowd on a night when baseball was postponed.

Just as I always felt better as a kid leaving a scary movie in the afternoon when the sun was still out, I always found Cubs' losses easier to handle in the bright of day. Leaving Wrigley Field late on a Wednesday night, knowing that I've still got to get home and get some sleep before going to work on Thursday, always seemed tougher after a loss.

When Cubs Manager Joe Maddon made an appeal recently for more night games at Wrigley, I thought that was a bad idea because the Cubs surely have a losing record in home night games, right?

Studying 30 years of Cubs schedules, I made a surprising discovery: Going into Wednesday night's game against the lowly Cincinnati Reds, the Cubs boasted a 359-321 record in night games at Wrigley Field, for a .528 winning percentage. That's better than the Cubs' lifetime winning percentage and better than all but 11 seasons since 1945. In 30 years of night baseball at Wrigley, the Cubs have had only 11 seasons where they lost more night games at home than they won.

In day games at Wrigley Field this season, the Cubs are 14-16. Going into Wednesday night's action, the Cubs were 16-11 in night games at Wrigley Field this year. If they played at their night pace in all games, the Cubs would finish the season with a record of 96-66.

The first-place Cubs need to finish strong to hold off the hated St. Louis Cardinals, the pesky Milwaukee Brewers and the miracle-seeking Pittsburgh Pirates. No matter how much we love day baseball, Cubs fans should be glad that the team has seven night games left at Wrigley.

As the oldest season-ticket holder, 91-year-old Cubs fan Harry Grossman, punches the button switching on the lights for the first night game at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Aug. 8, 1988. That game was postponed by rain, but the Cubs have a surprisingly good record in night games at Wrigley since then. Daily Herald file photo
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