Northwestern, Michigan Play Baseball At Wrigley Saturday

Wildcats righthander Luke Farrell, son of Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell. - Courtesy Northwestern University

In the first of what will be several different sporting events hosted by Northwestern University at Wrigley Field, they'll take on the Michigan Wolverines in a baseball game Saturday evening.

In February, the Cubs and Northwestern University held a news conference at Wrigley Field to announce a multisport collaboration between the school and the team:

The Cubs and Northwestern University announced a five-year deal to play baseball, football and lacrosse -- and possibly soccer and other sports -- at Wrigley Field.

The first of those events will be a baseball game featuring NU's Wildcats against the University of Michigan Wolverines Saturday, April 2O. That's part of a three-game set originally scheduled to be played in Evanston; the other two will remain, while a Wrigley audience will see college baseball while the Cubs are in Milwaukee taking on the Brewers.

Saturday, April 20... why, that's today! And this game has received virtually no publicity. There's nothing on the Cubs website about it and I had to google around to find this game preview from the Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper at the school:

The Wildcats (15-13, 4-8 Big Ten) will play three home games against Michigan (21-14, 7-2 Big Ten) this weekend, including Saturday’s match at Wrigley, the 99-year-old home of the Chicago Cubs.

The series has serious implications for NU’s Big Ten Tournament hopes. No one seems to view Saturday as just another game.

"It’s definitely a game we’ve had circled on a calendar for a while," senior first baseman Jack Havey said. "(I) grew up on the North Side, so (I’m) definitely a huge Cubs fan, as hard as that can be at times. So that makes it even more exciting."

Northwestern's scheduled starting pitcher Saturday night has a major-league baseball connection:

The NU starting pitcher who will take the Wrigley mound is not from the Chicago area, but he is no stranger to big league ballparks. Senior Luke Farrell’s father, John, played for three teams in an eight-year major league career and now manages the Boston Red Sox. But when Luke throws his first pitch Saturday, he will have done something John never did: pitch at Wrigley Field.

"I might mention that to him," the younger Farrell said. "I’ve been fortunate enough to hang out in a number of different clubhouses and spend time on a number of different fields. (But) I’m certainly not used to it. Every time you go to a new park, it’s certainly special."

Saturday morning, the Tribune ran this story about the game; in it, Teddy Greenstein cited a tweet stating that a relative of another former major leaguer will be playing for Michigan:

Peter Gammons of the MLB Network tweeted: "Favorite matchup Sat. when Michigan is @ Northwestern: Mich CF Mike O'Neill (Paul's nephew) vs. NW RHP Luke Farrell. Both will be drafted."

Are either of these players Cubs-draftable this spring? That might be something worth watching in this matchup.

The game will begin at 6:05 Saturday night, with Wrigley's gates opening two hours before game time. The weather? Not much better than it's been for Cubs games this week:

Mostly clear, with a low around 34. East southeast wind around 10 mph. 

The Wildcats, in fact, called off the Friday game in this set and will play a doubleheader against Michigan in Evanston Sunday. But the Wrigley game is still on; I'm not going to go but if you are interested, general-admission tickets are $7 and you can buy them via this tickets.com link, by calling the NU box office at 888-GO-PURPLE (467-8775), or, presumably, at Wrigley Field. If you're following along with (or attending) this game, feel free to use this post as a game thread.

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