In recent years, a handful of Cubs games at Wrigley Field have been played in horrendous weather conditions, generally winter-like with cold temperatures, howling winds and consistent rainfall. One of them was particularly memorable, a comeback 14-10 win over the Braves in 2018. Another that you’re surely familiar with came last week against the White Sox. In both of those cases, makeup dates were difficult or impossible to arrange, so the games were played.
Back in 2003, though, this was generally not the case. MLB games simply weren’t played in weather like that. And Sunday, May 11 — Mother’s Day that year — on which scheduled to be the third of a three-game set against the Cardinals, dawned with weather conditions predicted to be much like those of the two games noted above. Even though the temperature was announced as 53 degrees at game time, it rapidly fell into the 40s during the game. Also falling was a steady rain, and the wind was blowing straight out at 23 miles per hour with higher gusts, the highest such gust at the lakefront measuring 47 miles per hour.
A number of us there dubbed this “The Typhoon Game” as it felt like that’s what was blowing through Chicago. At the time I don’t think I had ever seen baseball played in conditions that bad.
The reason I’m writing this article is that I recently located a video of this game — posted by someone I don’t know, but who also named it “The Typhoon Game” and had recorded the four innings worth of play and preserved it for us to see now. Here’s the full video:
It never stopped raining, but the Cubs pressed on and started this game, and the umpires let it continue.
You can see it in the video above: Then-Cubs TV analyst Steve Stone called Moises Alou’s first-inning home run. Scroll in to about 18:00 of the video to hear Stone’s call. Four pitches later Alou puts a ball in the seats.
The 2-0 lead didn’t last long. The Cardinals put five on the board in the second, including a grand slam by Albert Pujols. Corey Patterson homered in the bottom of the inning. St. Louis first baseman Tino Martinez (bet you didn’t remember he played two years for the Cardinals) homered in the top of the third, but Troy O’Leary hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning, so it’s now 6-5 Cardinals after three.
St. Louis piled on four more runs in the fourth; Martinez hit his second homer of the game, a three-run blast, to make it 11-6. In the bottom of the fourth, the Cubs had scored three to make it 11-9. One of those runs scored on a sacrifice fly by relief pitcher Juan Cruz. During that play, Cardinals right fielder Eli Marrero was seriously injured. That’s what you see at the top of this article, a photo of Marrero being carried off the field. You can see this play if you scroll to about 1:20:15 of the video.
Marrero, who appeared to be rounding into a solid MLB player in 2002 (.262/.327/.451, 18 home runs in 131 games), suffered an Achilles injury. At the time it appeared season-ending, though he did come back in September and had a pretty good year in Atlanta in 2004. He was never quite the same after the injury and he was done after 2006.
The teams did finish the fourth inning. Alex Gonzalez homered with a runner on to make it 11-9, and then there were a couple of plays where Cardinals fielders were slipping all over the place — a catchable popup by O’Leary dropped untouched in between two of them.
After the fourth inning was completed, the umpires stopped play and it was not resumed. By the rules of the time, the game had to be made up and replayed from the beginning. That wound up happening September 2. The Cubs split that doubleheader, but won four of five games in that series, which was a key turning point in the Cubs’ rush to the NL Central title, which they won in part by going 19-8 in September.
Tribune writer Phil Rogers, in recapping this game, noted MLB’s foolishness in not allowing games like this to be suspended and completed later, something MLB finally did in 2021 and codified in the CBA this year. Here’s more from Rogers’ article:
Hoping to get five innings in before heavy rains arrived, the Cubs started the Mother’s Day game on time despite turf that was saturated by heavy overnight rain, grass that was getting slicker by the minute because of a steady mist and winds that were steady at 39 m.p.h.
“It was bad, real bad,” St. Louis left fielder Albert Pujols said.
“I don’t know why we started the game, first of all. Since we started, you would think they would at least go through the fifth inning to make it count.”
Red Schoendienst, who played his first game at Wrigley in 1945, said he has never seen winds this strong at the old park. Ron Santo seconded the motion.
“I’ve played in rain, wind, cold, when the grass was slippery and the basepaths got sticky,” [Jim] Edmonds said. “But not all on the same day. As a whole, I don’t think I’ve ever played in worse conditions.”
This freight train of a wind was roaring straight out of the southwest, toward the center- and right-field bleachers. It seemed to fluster the pitchers, who paid dearly for the pitches they left up and over the plate.
The teams had combined for seven home runs—with one in every half inning after a scoreless top of the first.
None of those seven home runs counted, nor did the 20 runs scored, since the game was erased and replayed later under the rules of the time.
However, Mike Bojanowski kept score, on an increasingly-wet sheet of paper (I never did take out my scorecard on this day), and then transferred the scoring to the official scorecard, so I can present them to you here, along with an image of that day’s ticket, featuring then-manager Dusty Baker.
It was a day none of us who were there will ever forget, even if it didn’t officially go in the record books. It all happened 19 years ago today, Sunday, May 11, 2003.