Jul 10, 2020 5 min read

10 fun facts about the last All-Star Game at Wrigley Field

10 fun facts about the last All-Star Game at Wrigley Field

Today marks 30 years since the last All-Star Game was played at Wrigley Field.

That year’s game was an obvious gift for the Cubs installing lights two years earlier. The All-Star Game had previously been held at Wrigley in 1947 and 1962.

Whenever the next one happens, it will be a reward for the Ricketts family dumping millions of dollars into the park’s renovations the past few years. The All-Star Game on the North Side is long overdue, but part of the delay was at least due in part to the previous substandard conditions of both locker rooms (no longer an issue).

But the next two games are already booked (Atlanta’s Truist Park and Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium), which means Wrigley won’t host at least until 2023. At that point every team except the Rays and A’s will have hosted the Midsummer Classic at least once since the game was on the North Side. Five teams, meanwhile, will have hosted twice since 1990 (though all in different parks).

Since 30 years is a long time and memories can be fuzzy, here’s a refresher course with 10 things to remember about the 1990 All-Star Game at Wrigley Field.

1. The weather was lousy

The baseball gods sent rain for the first night game at Wrigley Field in 1988 and they apparently weren’t happy with the All-Star Game either. There was a 17-minute rain delay — say, why does that sound familiar? — at the start of the game and a 68-minute delay for a monsoon in the seventh. CBS aired Rescue 911 until the weather passed and the game didn’t get over until after midnight, to that point the latest finish in Wrigley history.

2. The game might have been even worse

3. The lineups were still awesome

I watched the first hour or so on YouTube yesterday and the intros were great. The 1990 game featured 14 Hall of Famers (plus Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds) and a bunch of memorable characters like Jose Canseco and Lenny Dykstra. It was Ken Griffey Jr’s first All-Star Game and Rickey Henderson’s 10th.

Yeah, Bob Welch and Jack Armstrong were the game’s starters, but what can you do?

4. It was Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson’s day

Check out the ovations each got during their introductions in the starting lineup . (Yes, the quality of this recording is a brutal indicator of just how long ago this really was.)

Dawson, by the way, signed a new $3.3 million contract earlier in the day, which was also his 36th birthday. (Happy 66th, Hawk!)

5. Richard Marx sang the National Anthem

Fresh off a Grammy nomination for “Right Here Waiting,” the Highland Park native had the second most impressive waterfall of the night, just behind Chuck Finley.

6. They gave away these hats at the Workout Day

What a beaut. You can still see these floating around Wrigley Field from time to time.  Can’t believe someone is selling one on eBay for just $8.

7. The Home Run Derby was an all-time dud

I attended the Home Run Derby and it was a bit different back then. It was held on Monday afternoon as part of the Workout Day and it was a team competition with each league bringing four men to the plate. Each hitter only got five outs.

But still: How does the AL send Canseco, Griffey, Mark McGwire and Cecil Fielder to the plate and only walk away with one homer from McGwire? The National League team of Ryno, Strawberry, Matt Williams and Bobby Bonilla didn’t do much better with Sandberg hitting three and Williams hitting one to notch a 4-1 victory.

Canseco, by the way, was a focal point the entire All-Star break. He came into the game as its highest vote-getter and did blast a home run onto a balcony of one of the buildings of Waveland during Monday’s batting practice. But he was booed consistently by Chicago fans, who even then had suspicions about enlarged muscles (then conveniently forgot about them with Sammy Sosa eight years later).

“The people were yelling ‘steroids’ and flexing,” Canseco told reporters. “I thought it was funny.”

8. Greg Olson did not face Gregg Olson

One of the big storylines heading into the game was how Atlanta catcher Greg Olson could face Baltimore pitcher Gregg Olson. Since there was no interleague play, it was the only opportunity for the matchup to happen. Gregg Olson never got into the game, though, and the two men didn’t see their paths cross again until a 2015 phone call.

Baseball fans, meanwhile, would one day get the novelty of watching Chris Young go 0-for-16 (with three walks) against Chris Young in his career.

9. Bobby Thigpen fans had a strange sign on a rooftop

So … I guess that’s one option for when they eventually take Trump’s name off the building he has in Chicago now? White Sox reliever Bobby Thigpen was in the middle of his then-MLB record 57 save season for the 1990 White Sox and pitched a clean seventh, retiring Will Clark, Tim Wallach and Strawberry in order. If you’re wondering why he didn’t get the save opportunity in Chicago with 27 saves at the break, here are two names: Tony LaRussa and Dennis Eckersley.

10. Pat O’Brien hustled Harry Caray off the air!

Pat O’Brien got Caray for an interview following the seventh inning stretch and then abruptly ended it after less than a minute!

I don’t know if he had a producer in his ear or what, but the one thing that could have saved Wrigley’s soggy All-Star Game at that point was definitely a Harry Caray who presumably had been enjoying his night off with Jack Buck on the call for CBS.

If you get my drift.

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Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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