On Monday night, the Chicago Cubs said, "Let there be light."
Nature responded angrily, making it a mud night.The first night game in 74-year-old Wrigley Field was a wash. A thunderstorm struck in the fourth inning, and after 2 hours and 10 minutes of relentless rain, the game was postponed.
The Cubs led the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 at the time. They will try again to play host to the first official night game at Wrigley Tuesday against the New York Mets.
"It was unofficial history," Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg said. "The pregame stuff was nice. Everybody was excited about the lights. It was kind of strange. It hasn't rained here at all, and then suddenly it rained tonight."
Maybe nature was making a statement about the lights.
"Or maybe she wants a dome," Sandberg said.
Curiosity seekers packed the 39,019-seat stadium and hundreds of others hovered on neighborhood rooftops. The atmosphere was charged. Soon, however, a different type of electricity was in the air. A heavy thunderstorm struck the area at 8:15 p.m., while the Cubs were preparing to bat in the fourth inning.
The festive crowd was drenched. Their parade had been rained on, big time.
"A lot of people came here not for the outcome, but just to be part of this event," said Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe, who had a potential victory slip through his hands. "It was a great event."
Until the rain came, the big event was unfolding as planned. Harry Grossman, 91, who has backed the Cubs since 1906, had the task of turning on the lights in the Friendly Confines.
"All you fans deserve it," Grossman said during a pregame ceremony behind home plate. "You've certainly earned it."
Along with Grossman, the crowd chanted: "One, two, three, let there be lights!" Then Grossman hit the switch and the lights blinked on.
The crowd roared, but the effect wasn't stunning. The lights take about 10 minutes to warm up, and there were still two hours of daylight left when the button was pushed.
Drama? Forget it. The Cubs paid $5 million for these lights and they expected them to work. The lights obliged, proving again that the world of electronics has no room for sport.
The symbolic impact of Grossman's wrist flick was monumental. One of the sports world's unique traditions was gone. Life in Wrigleyville, the proud neighborhood that hugs the ballpark, will never be the same.
On the fourth pitch of the new era, Phil Bradley homered into the left-field seats.
The Cubs countered with Sandberg's two-run homer in their half of the first, and Rafael Palmeiro extended his hitting streak to 18 games with an RBI single in the third.
Then the heavens had seen enough, and a deluge sent everybody scrambling for cover.
When the delay reached 1 hour and 15 minutes, Cubs Jody Davis, Al Nipper, Greg Maddux and Les Lancaster bolted out of the dugout and performed several water slides on the tarp to entertain the crowd.
"It's just too bad it rained," Nipper said. "I don't think we'll have the same atmosphere tomorrow as we had tonight. There was a buzz going through the crowd, like for a World Series."