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Today in Chicago Cubs history: The time the Wrigley P.A. announcer was profane

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It was a cold and rainy day...

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

I will never forget this game, even though it happened 35 years ago today, May 1, 1983.

It was a miserably chilly, windy and wet Sunday afternoon, 49 degrees at game time with a 14 mile per hour wind, per the boxscore, and I don’t think it got any warmer the rest of the day. On and off rainshowers dotted Wrigley Field.

The Cubs were off to a horrendous start. This was, you might recall, just two days after Lee Elia’s famous profane rant to reporters after the Cubs blew a 3-1 sixth-inning lead and lost to the Dodgers.

The Cubs were 6-14 entering this game and already six games out of first place, so you can imagine profanities abounded in the Cubs clubhouse.

And a profanity is the subject of this little piece of Cubs history. As reported by beat writer Robert Markus in the Tribune the next day:

The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the first, but Ron Cey rapped into a double play. Shortly after that, public address announcer Walt Jacobs inadvertently summed up the entire day from a Cubs’ standpoint.

Unable to find the piece of copy he wanted, Jacobs, with his microphone open, uttered a four-letter expletive that could be heard throughout the ballpark. Even Lee Elia had to laugh when he heard it.

Now, normally I don’t post profanity myself here, but I can’t really tell you this story without telling you exactly what Jacobs said, and it was actually fairly mild as profanities go. Still, it wasn’t the kind of thing you expected to hear in a baseball park. In front of 11,295 at Wrigley Field, the words “Oh, shit” came over the P.A. system, loud and clear.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, burst out laughing. It was probably the loudest, happiest sound that day in Wrigley Field in a game the Cubs lost 3-2. The game was stopped by rain with one out in the top of the sixth, at about 3:30 p.m. according to the note I wrote on my scorecard, and at 5 p.m. they called it. Elia had been ejected one inning earlier, according to the Retrosheet play-by-play:

Cubs manager Lee Elia ejected by HP umpire Ed Vargo arguing that the game should have been called earlier due to field conditions

Elia was probably right, too. As I noted above, it was a miserable, rainy day and the field was in poor condition. That wasn’t a great homestand for Elia, who wouldn’t last the rest of the season as Cubs manager.

Jacobs, too, was soon replaced, by Wayne Messmer, who held the fulltime reins as Cubs P.A. announcer through 1994. Messmer was then succeeded by Paul Friedman. Friedman left in 2011, and Andrew Belleson now makes the public address announcements at Wrigley.