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Chicago Cubs history: The 5 coldest Wrigley Field games ever

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It’s cold today for the Cubs home opener. It’s been this bad before... or worse.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The weather forecast for today’s Cubs home opener against the Pirates is ... well, let’s just say it’s not baseball weather:

Monday: Snow before 1pm, then a chance of snow showers, mainly between 1pm and 5pm. High near 37. East southeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming north northeast in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Not only Chicago, but most of the Midwest and Northeast, have been in a persistent cold weather pattern for almost two weeks. The cold, rain and even snow have already forced nine postponements in these seven cities: Kansas City, Minneapolis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and New York, and prompted the White Sox to move today’s home game against the Rays from 7:10 to 1:10. The bad weather even extended to San Francisco, where a Dodgers/Giants game was rained out Friday.

Just to help you feel that you’re not alone in going to freeze at Wrigley Field for the home opener, if you’re going, I present to you the five coldest games in the history of the ballpark.

*Caveat: there was no systematic noting of game-time temperatures in boxscores before the 1980s, thus, this is really “the five coldest Cubs home games since 1982.” Still.

5) April 18, 2011, Cubs 1, Padres 0, game time temperature 34

Not only a cold game, but a cold 1-0 game that went 10 innings — and it still ran just two hours, 26 minutes!

Here’s my BCB recap of that game, in which I wrote:

Both teams were playing quickly, either because of the cold or that they wanted to get inside and watch the Bulls game, or both. An announced crowd of 36,592 couldn’t have been more than about a third of that -- maybe 12,000 -- in the house, and even though the game went to the ninth inning in under two hours, a lot of people left after Len Kasper (dressed in a Snuggie, of all things) sang in the seventh inning. More people took off after the Cubs went out 1-2-3 in the last of the ninth; maybe 2,000 remained for the 10th inning as a light rain began to fall.

Len Kasper in a Snuggie. I don’t recall that. (Yes, I was one of the 2,000 who remained.) Perhaps you remember this event. Len might want to forget, I’d think. The Bulls game in question was a first-round playoff game against the Indiana Pacers, which the Bulls won.

Tyler Colvin doubled in Kosuke Fukudome, who had walked with one out in the 10th, for the win.

4) April 9, 1982, Cubs 5, Mets 0, game time temperature 34

This was the home opener after the Cubs had split a pair in Cincinnati, the very first home opener for the team under Tribune Co. ownership after decades of Wrigley family ownership.

And just four days before this game, a huge snowstorm clobbered Chicago:

On April 5, 1982, the Chicago area was hit by a major late-season storm that officially delivered 9.4 inches of snow.

It warmed up a bit over the next couple of days (after a low of seven degrees April 7, the only single-digit temperature ever recorded in Chicago in April), but there was so much snow still around when game day arrived that people sitting on the rooftops on Sheffield were throwing snowballs across the street, trying to see if they could hit those of us sitting in the bleachers. A few managed to reach that far, prompting some to opine that the Cubs should sign those people up.

Other snowballs came from the upper deck, as the Tribune reported:

The plate umpire and the fans in the lower deck glared at the upper deck as the snowballs showered down in the fourth inning, in celebration of a Cubs home run.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said the Wrigley Field announcer, “please refrain from throwing snowballs onto the playing field. Anyone throwing snowballs on the playing field will be subject to ejection.”

In this video of Bill Buckner’s home run that put the Cubs ahead 2-0, you can clearly hear that P.A. announcement and see a couple of snowballs fly through the frame. Fun times!

This game also marked the return of Fergie Jenkins to the Cubs, and he came through with 6⅔ shutout innings. Attendance, which was in those days just the turnstile count, was 26,712, not a bad showing considering the brutal weather.

3) April 9, 1989, Cubs 8, Pirates 3, game time temperature 33

The first four games of the 1989 season had been played at Wrigley Field in decent (if not balmy) temperatures in the 40s and 50s. A cold front came through after that; the game on April 8 had a game-time temp of 35, just missing this list, and it was 33 at game time for the series finale Sunday, April 9.

I don’t have a specific memory of this game, though I was definitely there. Rick Sutcliffe threw a complete game, striking out 11.

2) April 8, 2003, Cubs 6, Expos 1, game time temperature 32

This was the 2003 home opener — after the scheduled home opener had been postponed due to an all-morning snowfall the day before.

Somehow, Vladimir Guerrero managed to yank a ball out of the yard off Matt Clement, despite a 14 mile per hour wind blowing straight in from center field. The wind chill that day was 22. Fortunately, the Cubs were ahead 5-0 by the time Vlad homered.

1) April 8, 1997, Marlins 5, Cubs 3, game time temperature 29

It was reported when this game was played that the 29-degree temperature was the coldest in Wrigley Field history. I’ll take that as fact, as there certainly hasn’t been one that cold in the 21 years since.

The boxscore link above says it was sunny that day. Let me assure you that boxscore statement is incorrect. It was not sunny that day — in early April sunshine, you can feel warm at that temperature. It was cloudy, and there was just no way to get warm. There was a 22 mile per hour crosswind (west/northwest, blowing out to right field), making the wind chill 1. I have never felt that cold at Wrigley. It was warmer at Wrigley for the Blackhawks Winter Classic in January 2009.

What made things even worse is that the Cubs had lost all six games on the season opening road trip and would lose this one (the only one of these five coldest that the Cubs lost) and seven more after that before they’d win a game that year.

The warm-weather Marlins had no trouble sweeping the series.

It should be somewhat warmer than 29 degrees at Wrigley Field for this afternoon’s opener. Just be happy today’s game is an afternoon game, instead of the night home openers the Cubs have had the last three seasons.