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Tuxedos made for a stifling night for Steve Stone at Wrigley

Updated: September 9, 2013 3:00PM



Everyone recalls the great rainstorm that put a damper on the first night game at Wrigley Field, but Steve Stone — then a Cubs broadcaster — also remembers the heat.

And the humidity.

All of which put Stone’s discomfort level at an all-time high. What made it worse was the tuxedos the announcers wore to mark the occasion.

Except for Harry Caray.

“Because someone else thought it was a good idea and it wasn’t Harry’s idea, he wore a lumberjack shirt just to be a contrarian,’’ Stone said. “Here’s a guy who would dress up in New York and for special occasions.’’

But not this night.

“Then of course it started to rain,’’ Stone said. “Dewayne Staats and I were in the booth during the middle three innings, and I believe the delay was 2 hours, 54 minutes. And we never went off the air.

‘‘We were pulling people up from all over to come into the booth. [Mayor] Eugene Sawyer came up. Dabney Coleman came up. I don’t think he knew anything about baseball.

“It was really humid, beastly and oppressively hot in the booth, and because we were in tuxedos, the sweat was rolling down our faces. [Director] Arne [Harris] would have to cut away so we could wipe our faces.’’

It wasn’t all bad. The sight of the park lit up at night was almost breathtaking.

“It was beautiful,’’ Stone said. “Once it did get dark, it was beautiful. We were all taken by just how good the field looked.’’

Sox radio broadcaster Darrin Jackson played for the Cubs in 1988.

“It was an exciting night,’’ said Jackson, who watched Ryne Sandberg and Ernie Banks take on Andre Dawson and Billy Williams in a home-run hitting contest before the game.

“It was strange because when we practiced with the lights on it was like an eclipse of the baseball,’’ Jackson said. “It was weird. There were no lights hitting the side of the ball you’re looking at. You’re looking at the ball’s shadow moving. It wasn’t a white sphere flying. It was a shadow with an eclipse of light around it.’’

It’s been said that the night-game culture raised the party scene around the ballpark to new levels, but Stone isn’t so sure.

“It’s hard to make it more of a party atmosphere than it already was and still is,’’ Stone said, “because after a day game I don’t think the bars around Wrigley have a problem filling up. And they don’t before and after night games.’’

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CST_soxvan



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