The Chicago Cubs have one of the longest histories for any team in Major League Baseball. Because of that, the franchise has played thousands upon thousands of games, some of which were more memorable than others. Out of those seemingly countless games, though, which ones stand out as the most memorable? Here are our picks for the top five.
2016 World Series – Game 7
If you ask any Cubs fan where they were for the final game of the 2016 World Series, they would be able to tell you. The Cubs had fallen to a 3-1 deficit in the World Series, and it seemed that their 108-year World Series drought was going to continue for at least another year. However, the Cubs won 3-2 in game five, then handily defeated the Cleveland Indians in game six to force a final game to determine a winner.
The Cubs jumped out to an early lead thanks to a Dexter Fowler leadoff home run and had a 5-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth. After the Indians chipped away, the Cubs were up 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth before Cleveland tied it up. Nine innings wasn’t enough, and a rain delay pushed back the 10th inning. However, the Cubs outscored the Indians 2-1 in the 10th inning, ending perhaps the most memorable game in baseball history overall.
2003 NLCS – Game 6
More than a decade prior to the Cubs finally winning it all, the drought continued due to the Cubs being on the other side of a blown 3-1 series lead. Nobody remembers game five when the Cubs lost 4-0 to force a game six, and not many remember the game seven loss that seemed imminent. Instead, everyone remembers game six and the blown lead.
Heading into the eighth inning, the Cubs were just a few outs away from making their first World Series appearance since 1945 with a 3-0 advantage. However, the Steve Bartman ‘incident’ happened and the Cubs fell apart. Mark Prior, Kyle Farnsworth, and Mike Remlinger took forever to wrap up the eighth inning, but not before surrendering eight runs. The game would indeed end in an 8-3 Marlins win.
The Ryne Sandberg Game
In the National League, the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is perhaps the best, even above the Giants-Dodgers. In what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill early summer game with low stakes, the game that took place on June 23, 1984, between the two teams became memorable thanks to second baseman Ryne Sandberg.
The Cardinals had a 7-1 lead after the fourth inning, but the Cubs came storming back to force extra innings at 9-9. Both teams scored a pair of runs in the 10th, and the Cubs walked it off in the bottom of the 11th, winning 12-11. The reason it’s referred to as the Ryne Sandberg game is that he went 5-for-6 at the plate with seven runs batted in and two home runs. Sandberg’s first home run forced extra innings, and his second forced the deciding 11th inning.
First Game Under the Lights
Wrigley Field has always been seen as the Mecca of daytime baseball, but the stadium has hosted more primetime games in recent years. While the primary focus is still on day games, Wrigley didn’t have a single night game until August 8, 1988. Despite some backlash, that was the day the lights came on at Wrigley for the first time as the Cubs took on the New York Mets.
The game did start, but rain caused the game to be postponed before five innings could be played. Still, everyone remembers those first few innings as seeing Wrigley illuminated in the night sky for the first time was something that we all had to adjust to. The following day, the first official night game was recorded, with the Cubs defeating the Mets 6-4.
Kerry Wood’s 20 Strikeout Game
Early on in the 1998 season, the Cubs took on the Houston Astros on a rainy and cold day at Wrigley Field. There weren’t many people in attendance to watch rookie Kerry Wood go through one of the toughest lineups in the MLB, but those who were there saw perhaps the most dominating pitching performance in league history.
Wood mowed through the lineup as if they were batting with spaghetti noodles, striking out 20 batters to tie the record for most K’s in a nine-inning game. Wood allowed just one base runner, as well, with an infield single that could have been ruled an error. That’s how close Wood was to a perfect game or no-hitter, but thankfully it wasn’t overshadowed as his strikeout record was the true takeaway from that afternoon.