The weather will make it look more like football season than opening day baseball at Wrigley Field on Thursday when the Chicago Cubs host the Milwaukee Brewers.
“As is often the case with early-season baseball games, the forecast for Thursday doesn’t look particularly picnic-worthy,” wrote Brett Borchardt, a meteorologist with the Chicago office of the National Weather Service, in an email to the Tribune. “We expect temperatures close to 47 degrees at first step with gusty westerly winds blowing 25-30 mph making it feel like 40 degrees. We also expect scattered rain and snow showers throughout the day.
What’s normal in April in Chicago?
This weather pattern is not unusual for this time of year in Chicago, he notes. The normal high temperature for April 7 is 56 degrees with a low of 37. Usually a trace of rain is also seen.
Borchardt says the forecast should improve early next week – just in time for the White Sox’s home opener against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“The good news is that we are heading for warmer weather next week with highs from Monday in the mid upper 60s!” he said. “The Sox look to have the upper hand for better weather in their home opener, although we’ll have to keep an eye out for the increasing chance of showers and thunderstorms through the middle of next week. “
So, is cold weather important for a Cubs home opener?
Spoiler: It probably makes a bigger difference to the fans. Although snow caused the postponement of the team’s one-day home opener in 2018.
Since 1989 — when box scores for Major League Baseball games began including the weather conditions at the ballpark at the time of the first pitch — the Cubs have been 14-19 in their season openers at residence.
Last year, the Cubs’ home opener was tied for the team’s third coldest game since 1989.
The temperature on the first pitch – 1:21 p.m. – in the Cubs’ home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 1, 2021, was reported at 36 degrees with winds of 7 mph from the north. The Cubs lost to the Pirates, 5-3.
That tied on April 13, 2009, for the third coldest playing temperature recorded at the Friendly Confines since 1989. The Cubs won that game against the Colorado Rockies 4-0.
Interestingly, the hottest and coldest home opens for the Cubs happened on the same day — April 8 — but 22 years apart.
COLDEST: 29 degrees (April 8, 1997)
The paid attendance was listed at 35,393, but the next day Tribune reported that the crowd was “significantly lower” than that due to the sub-zero temperature and the Cubs’ performance – the team dropped their seventh straight game. , a 5-3 decision against the Florida Marlins.
“The Cubs put on the show for the locals on Tuesday, and it was a replay. They missed it again… ”, wrote columnist Jerome Holtzman in the Tribune the next day.
The Tribune reported that a vendor outside Wrigley Field was trying to unload tickets for the first home game of the season – an hour before the first pitch. “Who needs Cub tickets? Less than face value!
Cubs fan Brian Bonic admitted he showed up “a little under-dressed” for the game: “He was only wearing two pairs of thermal underwear, two turtlenecks and a sweatshirt. Green Bay Packers shirt to battle 31 mph gusts of wind, a 29 degree game time temperature and 1 degree wind chill factor,” the Tribune reported.
Cubs players also had to be underdressed for the weather. Holtzman wrote that the team had little to no aggressive plays during the game.
“If you don’t play well against a good team, they’re going to beat you,” Cubs manager Jim Riggleman admitted.
Cubs center back Brian McRae was the hardest hit by the cold. He said his hands were so numb he had trouble holding the stick: “This weather is not conducive to a lot of hits.”
A fan claimed he would show up for the Friendly Confines home opener for the Cubs no matter the weather.
“We are not here because they are (0-7). This is Wrigley Field. The Cubs. Opening day. It’s part of the American tradition. We’d be here if it snowed,” Dan O’Toole said.
Another fan – a subscription holder – didn’t care about tradition. He just wanted to stay warm. That’s why he and his friends left their seats along the first base line after the first inning and went to the Cubby Bear bar across the street. After all, he estimated, he still had 80 home games to play that season.
“It’s absolutely too cold to sit there and watch baseball. I had the wind blowing in my face and we were in the shade. You can’t have a good time when you’re freezing,” Ron Rous said.
HOTEST: 65 degrees (April 8, 2019)
After a 2-7 start — their worst since 1997 — it was the win the Cubs needed. And it was dominant. It was a shutout. It was the biggest shutout victory in a home opener in franchise history. It was also the first time since at least 1908 that four pitchers pitched at least two scoreless innings in a nine-inning game.
The victory came on a “perfect afternoon” at Wrigley Field, according to Tribune columnist Paul Sullivan, in front of 40,692 fans.
“Everything went well for the Cubs, from the weather to the offensive explosion to the bullpen combined for seven innings after (Jon) Lester was injured scoring during the second six-run,” wrote Sullivan.
The hamstring injury would sideline Lester for 2½ weeks, but even Cubs manager Joe Maddon wasn’t worried about it after the game.
“Jonny is a great athlete. He hurt himself. It happens,” he said.
The thing about the weather in Chicago, however, it changes quickly. Javier Báez – who got a hit on a rebounding pitch – didn’t like the uncertain predictions for the team’s next home game.
“I just saw Wednesday’s weather, and it’s not going to be like that,” he said.