A Day In Wrigley Field History: April 20, 1986

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Quite a number of unusual events happened in this game.

This is actually the tale of two days in Wrigley Field history, not one, because the game on April 20, 1986 wound up going into long extra innings and, since the ballpark was still lightless, was suspended.

The game, the last of a three-game set between the Pirates and Cubs, was played on a breezy afternoon with temperatures in the mid-50s. The Cubs had gotten off to a horrible 2-7 start, and had lost 14-8 to the Bucs the previous afternoon.

The Pirates would have swept the series with an 8-6 win had Keith Moreland not hit a two-out, two-run, game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Exciting, right? Well, it would have been more exciting if the Cubs could have figured out a way to win it before darkness. They left the bases loaded in the 11th and another runner on in the 13th, and then it got too dark to play after the top of the 14th, when the game was suspended. And Fred Mitchell's wrap in the Tribune had worse news:

The list of casualties in Sunday's four-hour, 48-minute, 8-8 tie between the Cubs and Pirates included Cub reliever Lee Smith and outfielder Jerry Mumphrey.

Smith had to leave the game in the 11th inning with a pulled groin after pitching 1⅓ innings. His status is uncertain.

Mumphrey bruised his right hand and right knee sliding into the wall along the left-field line attempting to catch Steve Kemp's inside-the-park homer in the fourth inning. Mumphrey was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where X-rays were negative.

Pirates' reliever Don Robinson also had to leave the game in the 13th inning after suffering a strained ligament in his right knee.

Sunset in Chicago on April 20, 1986 was 7:36 p.m.; the 1:20 start plus four hours, 48 minutes made the time of suspension 7:08. By the time the game resumed August 11 -- yes, it took almost four months for the Bucs to return to Wrigley -- Cubs manager Jim Frey had been fired and replaced by Gene Michael, and the Cubs were 26½ games out of first place.

Things didn't get better. The Cubs had the winning run in scoring position with less than two out in both the 15th and 16th innings and failed to score. The Pirates weren't a very good team in 1986 -- they were the only thing keeping the Cubs out of last place -- but they managed to win this game in depressing fashion, wrote Mitchell:

Pinch-hitter Barry Bonds lined a two-out RBI single off Dave Gumpert to score Johnny Ray with the game-winner. When center fielder Bobby Dernier overran the ball for an error, Bobby Bonilla also scored for a 10-8 advantage.

That's how it ended, 10-8 Pirates in a total of six hours, nine minutes; the Pirates also won the regularly-scheduled game August 11.

And the note about Bonds -- pictured above in his rookie, skinnier times -- driving in the winning run in this game brings up a curious bit of trivia. Bonds made his major-league debut May 30, 1986 for the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium against the Dodgers. But since all statistics from suspended games are considered to have occurred on the date the game began, Bonds technically made his MLB debut April 20 at Wrigley Field, when he was still playing for Triple-A Hawaii. You can see how that looks in Bonds' 1986 game logs.

Just another curious footnote in the long history of Wrigley Field.

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