Chicago Cubs history: Remembering a scary and dangerous night at Wrigley

Rain pours on Cubs
Rain pours on Cubs / Brian Bahr/GettyImages

Monday. August 4th, 2008.

The first-place Chicago Cubs were hosting the then-division rival Houston Astros at Wrigley Field. It was 70s Night at The Friendly Confines, and the game was being broadcast both locally on WGN and nationally on ESPN Monday Night Baseball. 40,867 fans crammed into Wrigley to watch Ryan Dempster face Brian Moehler. Seemed like a night game like any other, until Mother Nature got in the way.

Warm and humid conditions in an unstable atmosphere would help create a cluster of severe thunderstorms that would hit northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, right over the Chicagoland area. The game started on time at 6:09 PM local time and would go five innings uninterrupted. With the Cubs trailing 2-0, the skies opened up after Moehler got the final out in the bottom of the fifth at around 7:39 PM. Rain poured down and bright lightning illuminated the sky.

A rain delay, something fans have seen thousands of times. But this one was different.

The intensity of the storm grew greater than most typical storms in the Chicagoland area. Winds up to 94 MPH howled over the city, as lighting continued to light up the sky and gallons of water continued to fall. Soon after 8 PM the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning in the area. The 40,867 would hear the bone-chilling wail of the local tornado sirens echo through the intense wind and rumbling thunder. Fans were evacuated into the small concourse areas. The wind nearly blew people over as they made their way down and the rain reduced the visibility of the field to pretty much zero. Water flowed down the ramps and stairs into the concourse as fans sheltered inside.

In true Cubs fan fashion, the trapped people tried to make the best of it. A few fans tried running out of the park onto the streets to find cover elsewhere, but most of them were stuck inside the ballpark as the worst of the storm passed over. Some of the trapped fans even started singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame and "Let's go Cubbies" chants as the storm raged. A man dressed as Elvis dashed onto the field and slid on the tarp before the security crew could nab him.

Two hours and 40 minutes later, the game would resume. Luckily the Cubs had resurfaced the playing field the offseason prior, so the old outdated crown drainage system was gone and the crew was able to get the field in playing condition. Only a small handful of people remained by the time the game resumed. The Cubs over the next few innings could not rally, in the bottom of the 7th Mark DeRosa missed a game-tying home run by a few feet at Carlos Lee leaped up at the wall, and hauled it in.

As the top of the 8th began, the thunder and lightning returned. Constant bright flashes as the strikes were hitting fairly close by. The game still played on despite the flashes of lightning and thunder rumbling. In the bottom of the 8th with Mike Fontenot batting, a massive strike right next to the ballpark shook the entire park and Astros first baseman Lance Berkman immediately darted off the field. The guys in the Cubs dugout got a chuckle out of it, but the grounds crew came out and covered the field again.

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The game would eventually be called, Astros winning 2-0 in eight innings. A "blah" game on one crazy night. Per the National Weather Service, five confirmed tornadoes touched down in northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. Nothing bigger than an EF1 in Illinois, but there was significant damage from that storm in the area. 100,000 people lost power. There would be a few other instances of sirens going off during a game, including last year against the Padres, but this was the most intense. A memorable night for sure.