A Day In Wrigley Field History: September 19, 1992

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A Cubs/Cardinals doubleheader got upstaged by Hollywood.

This is one of my favorite Wrigley Field stories and the photo above should give you a clue as to why. First, let me set the scene before revealing the details and punch line.

The Cubs had a new manager in 1992, Jim Lefebvre, and a new player (Sammy Sosa) who would become important for the team years later, but who spent much of his first Cubs year injured. The team hung around .500 most of the year, which is where they were entering Saturday, Sept. 19, to play a doubleheader against the Cardinals, made necessary by a June 17 rainout.

The Cubs won the first game 6-5, and between games the near-capacity crowd of 32,236 (not a sellout for Cubs/Cardinals, but remember, both teams were out of contention and it was a cool, 58-degree day) was asked to do something no Wrigley Field crowd had ever done before, nor has it happened since.

Director Daniel Stern and cast were on hand to film scenes for "Rookie of the Year." I'm reasonably certain you're familiar with this 1993-released movie, but in case you aren't, the IMDB link above summarizes the plot:

When an accident miraculously gives a boy an incredibly powerful pitching arm, he becomes a major league pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.

Hey, never mind the movie. The Cubs could use someone like that in real life, now.

Anyway, the film's producers wanted a real ballgame crowd for this scene. Stern got on the PA and told everyone there that the scene would involve the kid's first time coming in from the bullpen. The character's name was "Henry Rowengartner," so Stern asked everyone to chant "Henry! Henry! Henry!" as the actor, Thomas Ian Nicholas, trotted to the mound.

They did three takes, to my recollection; Stern, satisfied he had enough for use in the film, thanked everyone, and then Game 2 began.

Lefthander Ken Patterson, normally a reliever, was pressed into service for the Game 2 start -- the only one he made as a Cub and one of only four starts he made in 224 total major-league appearances from 1988-1994. He began to get hit hard and the Cardinals scored four runs in the first inning, though three of them were unearned due to an error. The Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the first and took the lead 5-4 in the second, but when Patterson issued a leadoff walk in the third, followed by a two-run homer by Andres Galarraga to give St. Louis a 6-5 lead, the crowd began chanting....

"HENRY! HENRY! HENRY!"

That's perhaps the funniest thing I have ever seen at Wrigley Field. Everyone was laughing, including, I think, the players. Oddly, none of the beat writer recaps of the game mentioned this at all.

The game went back and forth, and the Cubs entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 10-8, but tied it on a single by Dwight Smith followed by a two-run homer from Ryne Sandberg. Unfortunately, Paul Assenmacher gave it right back in the 10th, and the Cubs lost the nightcap 11-10.

Even though the Cubs lost, 21-plus years later, I don't think I've ever laughed so hard at a baseball game.

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