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Cubs Wrigley Field game times through history, updated

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1:20 is an iconic time for Cubs home day games. But that hasn’t always been the case.

Getty Images (Time adjusted by Mike Bojanowski)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an update to my article published in July 2013 and an update to that article published in November 2019 which chronicled Cubs scheduled game times through all of Wrigley Field’s history dating back to 1916, when the Cubs first moved to the corner of Clark & Addison. In this update I’ve added the times in 2020 and 2021, and added some further notes.

In 2020, the Cubs had planned to move the starting time of some night games up to 6:40. The pandemic threw those plans up in the air. However, the lack of fans allowed at Wrigley and other ballparks in 2020 allowed the Cubs to play, with the city’s permission, Friday and Saturday night games and have some other odd starting times.

The Cubs did institute the 6:40 starting time for night games in April, May and September and the change proved to be popular with many fans. For 2022 there will be 16 night games in the aforementioned months with the earlier starting time. The rest of the night games will begin at 7:05 — unless Fox-TV or ESPN come calling for Saturday (6:15) or Sunday (6:08) starting times, and it’s likely there will be a few of those, as the Cubs are a good TV draw even if they’re not a contender (which we hope they will be!).


The 1:20 starting time for Cubs home day games is iconic, as shown above, and you can even buy a T-shirt with that time on it (hey, if you wear it, your shirt will have the right time twice a day).

But 1:20 hasn’t always been the starting time for afternoon contests at Wrigley Field. Here is a comprehensive list of starting times for every year since the Cubs moved to Wrigley Field (then, of course, known as Weeghman Park) in 1916.

2021: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20 (except Sun 9/26, 2:20); Sat 1:20 or 6:15; night games 6:08 (ESPN), 6:15 (Fox-TV), 6:40 (April, May & September), 7:05

2020: Labor Day 3:10; Sat day game (there was only one) 12:05; Sun day games 1:20; night games 6:10, 6:15 or 7:15 (except 9/6 and 9/20, 6:08); doubleheaders 1:20 and 4:15.

No weekday afternoon single games were played in 2020 at Wrigley, a first.

2019: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:05, 1:20, 3:05 or 6:15; night games 7:05 (except 5/5, 5/12 and 5/21, 6:05)

2018: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20 (except Fri 6/29, 4:05 and Sun 9/30, 2:20); Sat 12:05, 1:20, 3:05 or 6:15

The 4:05 p.m. start on June 29 was due to the Cubs returning from an afternoon game the previous day in Los Angeles. It’s the only 4:05 p.m. start in Wrigley Field history.

2017: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20 (except Sun 7/9, 12:10 and Sun 10/1, 2:20); Sat 12:05, 1:20, 3:05 or 6:15, night games 7:05 (except 5/22, 6:05)

The 2:20 starts on 9/30/18 and 10/1/17 were mandated by Major League Baseball, who asked for all the games on the final day of the season across all of North America to start in the same hour (3 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. CT, 1 p.m. MT, 12 noon PT). The 12:10 start on 7/9/17 was requested by and granted for a TBS national broadcast.

2016: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:05, 1:20 or 3:05, night games 7:05 (except 6/18, 7:15)

Here you see the influence of Joe Maddon. After having six different game times in 2015, Maddon asked the business side of the club to be more consistent at least with day game starting times. Thus in 2016 there were just two 3:05 starts, both Saturdays, and the 3:05 Friday game became a thing of the past. The 7:15 time on 6/18 was for Fox-TV’s Baseball Night in America, a one-time change from their usual 6:15 CT start.

2015: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 1:20 or 3:05, Sat 12:05, 3:05 or 6:15; night games 7:05

2014: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 1:20 or 3:05; Sat 12:05, 3:05 or 6:15; night games 7:05 (except 6/5 and 6/25, 6:05)

2013: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 1:20 or 3:05; Sat 12:05, 3:05 or 6:15; night games 7:05

2012: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:05, 3:05 or 6:15; night games 7:05 (except 4/9, 6:05)

2011: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:05, 12:10, 3:10 or 6:15; night games 7:05

The 6:15 starting time since 2011 for certain Saturdays has been mandated by Fox-TV as part of its “Baseball Night In America” series (with one exception, noted above)

2010: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:05 or 3:10; night games 7:05

2009: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:05, 2:40 or 3:10; night games 7:05

2008: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:05, 12:20, 1:20, 2:20 or 3:05; night games 7:05 (except 4/21, 6:05)

ESPN carries Monday and Wednesday night games starting at 7:05 ET (6:05 CT). As a result, they occasionally ask teams in the Central time zone who don’t normally start their weeknight games at 6:05 to move their start times up an hour. The 6:05 starts noted above are the only ones that were posted on original schedules issued before the season started — all the times here reflect original scheduled times. There have been a handful of other games moved by ESPN request from 7:05 to 6:05 after original schedules were posted.

2007: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:05 or 2:55; night games 7:05

The odd times of 2:55 and 2:40 above were Fox-TV messing around with their Saturday afternoon start time.

2006: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:20, 1:20 or 3:05; night games 7:05

2005: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:20, 1:20, 2:15 or 3:05; night games 7:05

2004: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 2:20; Sat 12:20, 1:20 or 3:05; night games 7:05

The Cubs agreed to stop scheduling Friday games at 2:20 after 2004 in exchange for the increase in night games from 18 to 30. 2004 was the last year of 2:20 Friday starts.

2003: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 2:20; Sat 12:15, 1:20 or 3:05; night games 7:05

2002: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 2:20; Sat 12:05, 1:20, 2:05 or 3:05; night games 7:05

1998-2001: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 2:20; Sat 12:15, 1:20 or 3:05; night games 7:05

1996-97: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 2:20; Sat 12:05, 1:20 or 3:05; night games 7:05

1994-95: Mon-Thu & Sat-Sun day games 1:20; Fri 2:20; night games 7:05

1993: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 2:20; Sat 12:05, 1:20 or 3:05; night games 7:05

1992: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 1:20 or 2:20; Sat 1:20, 1:30, 2:00 or 3:05; night games 7:05

1991: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 2:20; Sat 12:15, 1:20 or 3:05; night games 7:05

1990: Mon-Thu & Sun day games 1:20; Fri 1:20 or 2:20; Sat 12:15, 1:20 or 3:05; night games 7:05

1989: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:20, 1:20 or 3:05; night games 7:05 (except 4/29, 6:35)

April 29, 1989 was a Saturday; the Cubs were experimenting with an earlier starting time for Saturday night games, which were permitted under the original ordinance (two per year). 1989 was the first full season for night games. That evening wound up cold and windy and the Cubs and Padres combined for 11 errors in what manager Don Zimmer was quoted in the Tribune as calling “one of the worst baseball games ever.” Kicker: five of the errors were made by future Hall of Fame second basemen Ryne Sandberg (two) and Roberto Alomar (three). The Cubs lost the game 5-4.

1988: Mon-Fri & Sun day games 1:20; Sat 12:20, 1:20, 2:20 or 3:05; night games 7:05

1987: All games 1:20, except scattered dates at 3:05

The Cubs experimented with 3:05 starting times on various dates from 1983-87; some of the weekend 3:05 games were mandated by national TV starting times.

1986: Mon-Thu & Sun 1:20; Fri 1:20 or 3:05; Sat 12:05, 12:20, 1:20, 2:20 or 3:05

1985: Mon-Fri 1:20 or 3:05; Sat 12:20, 1:20, 2:20 or 3:05; Sun 1:20

1984: Mon-Tue 1:20; Wed-Fri 1:20 or 3:05; Sat 12:20, 1:20, 2:20 or 3:05; Sun 1:20

1983: Mon-Fri 1:20 or 3:05; Sat 1:20, 2:20 or 3:05; Sun 1:20; doubleheaders, 12:05

The last scheduled doubleheader at Wrigley Field was July 4, 1983. The Cubs were swept by the Montreal Expos, 6-3 and 4-2.

1980-82: Mon-Fri 1:35; Sat-Sun 1:20; doubleheaders, 12:05

The 1:20 starting time appears for the first time, but just for weekends. As you see above, weekday afternoon games didn’t start at 1:20 until 1983.

1974-79: Mon-Fri 1:30; Sat-Sun 1:15; doubleheaders, noon

1967-73: Mon-Fri 1:30; Sat-Sun 1:15; doubleheaders, 12:30 (except 4/22/73, noon)

As you’ll see below, doubleheader starting times started migrating earlier and earlier over the course of about 35 years, beginning in 1957. This was a tacit acknowledgment that games were running longer and longer. The reason for the April 22, 1973 doubleheader starting at noon instead of the 12:30 time that was standard in that era was that in 1973, Daylight Saving time didn’t begin until April 29. The noon start for April 22 was scheduled because sunset on April 22, 1973 was 6:39 p.m. CST, and the extra half hour was intended to ensure that doubleheader was completed before it got dark. On that, they succeeded: based on the boxscore lengths of the two games and assuming 20-25 minutes between games, it ended around 5:10 p.m. Try doing that with a noon doubleheader in 2020.

After 1973, as noted above, and to this day, daytime doubleheaders begin at noon. The last non-split doubleheader at Wrigley Field was against the Diamondbacks on August 3, 2006, necessitated because the previous night had been rained out, the two teams did not play again, and there were no common off days for a makeup game.

1965-66: Mon-Fri 1:30; Sat-Sun 1:15; doubleheaders, 1:15

1960-64: All single games 1:30; doubleheaders, 1:00

1959: Mon-Fri 2:00; Sat-Sun 1:00; doubleheaders, 1:00

The 2:00 starting time was yet another experiment. On April 10, 1959, the Tribune quoted Cubs general manager John Holland explaining the reason for the switch:

Football has proved the 1 p.m. start on weekends is sound. We’ve turned back the starting times of week-day games half an hour to give fans more time between lunch and the trip to the park.

That’s a rather odd statement. You’d think the Cubs would want people to come to the park and eat lunch there. Anyway, Cubs attendance dropped by 120,000 in 1959 despite the team being in contention until July. You can guess the rest, and on December 15, 1959 the Tribune reported:

The Cubs announced Monday that all single games at Wrigley Field next season will start at 1:30 p.m., thus ending a year-long experiment with 2:00 p.m. starts.

The Cubs, in announcing the reinstatement of 1:30 p.m. starts, said spectators many times last season were caught in late afternoon traffic.

1957-58: All single games 1:30; doubleheaders, 1:00

1945-56: All games 1:30 (except 1945 Sun games, 3:00)

In 1945, the Cubs published a newsletter called “Chicago Cubs News.” From the April 17 issue:

All home games of the Chicago Cubs this season will start at 1:30 o’clock ... in effort to provide more recreational opportunities for night-time war-workers.

From the front page of the May 21, 1945 issue:

All games at Wrigley Field begin at 1:30 o’clock. This experiment started with the season’s opening has met with wide-spread approval of the fans.

The Cubs had conducted surveys at war plants within an hour’s distance from the ballpark. The results were almost 100 percent in favor of the 1:30 start. Cubs attendance soared in 1945 to its biggest total since 1931. Obviously, that was mostly due to the pennant won that year, but the team might have credited part of it to the earlier starting time, and thus stuck with it, even after the war ended. Note that from the beginnings of Cubs baseball at the corner of Clark & Addison through 1956, doubleheaders started at 1:30 (with exceptions as noted below).

1936-44: Mon-Fri & Sun 3:00 (except 6/11/43 & 6/22/43, 11 a.m. and 6/25/43, 6 p.m.); Sat 2:00; doubleheaders 1:30

The two 11 a.m. games in 1943 were scheduled in order to allow shift workers in wartime production plants to take in the game and then go to work. Remember, many games in that era could be finished in two hours or less. That’s also the reason they were able to play a 6 p.m. game in June 1943, when sunset in Chicago was 8:30 p.m. I wrote about that game in the “Game From Cubs History” series in 2012. It drew well, but the Cubs never again tried what they then called a “twilight” game. (Obviously, you could really only do such a game, without lights, from about mid-June to mid-July.)

1935: Mon-Fri 3:00; Sat & Sun 2:00; doubleheaders 1:30

1932-34: All single games 3:00; doubleheaders 1:30

1927-31: All single games 3:00; doubleheaders 1:30 (except split-admission holiday doubleheaders, morning game 10:30, afternoon game 3:00)

1916-26: All single games 3:00; doubleheaders 1:30

Before 1945, 3 p.m. was the preferred starting time for most Cubs single games. Weekend games switched to 2 p.m. in 1935, only to have Sunday games go back to 3 p.m. in 1936. In general, these were scheduled this way so that workers who had a 7 to 3 shift could take in the ballgame.

There’s some incomplete evidence that Cubs games at West Side Grounds, in years before 1916, also began at 3 p.m.; that’s the starting time that appears on the 1914 scorecard, for example.

The 6:40 p.m. starting time for some night games beginning in 2020 is a sound idea. Many teams have switched to this (approximate) time for all their night games. It would be an excellent idea for the Cubs to consider this switch for all night games beginning in 2021.