The weather conditions will make it feel more like football season than opening day for 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,” Brett Borchardt, meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Chicago office, wrote in an email to the Tribune. “We’re expecting temperatures near 47 degrees at first pitch with breezy west winds gusting 25 to 30 mph, making it feel more like 40 degrees. We’re also expecting scattered rain and snow showers throughout the day.”
What’s normal for 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 observed too.
Borchardt says the forecast should improve early next week — just in time for the White Sox home opener against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“The good news is we’re heading into warmer weather next week with highs from Monday onward in the mid to upper 60s!” he said. “The Sox look to have the upper hand for nicer weather during their home opener, though we’ll have to keep an eye on increasing chances for showers and thunderstorms by the middle of next week.”
So does cold weather matter for a Cubs home opener?
Since 1989 — when box scores for Major League Baseball games began to include weather conditions at the ballpark at the time of the first pitch — the Cubs have a 14-19 record in their home openers.
Last year, the Cubs home opener tied for the team’s third-coldest since 1989.
The temperature at first pitch — 1:21 p.m. — during the Cubs home opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 1, 2021, was announced as 36 degrees with 7 mph winds from the north. The Cubs lost to the Pirates, 5-3.
That ties April 13, 2009, for the third-coldest game-time temperature recorded at the Friendly Confines since 1989. The Cubs won that game against the Colorado Rockies 4-0.
Interestingly, the warmest and coldest home openers 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’s Tribune reported the crowd was “considerably less” than that due to the below-freezing temperature and the Cubs performance — the team dropped its seventh straight game, a 5-3 decision to the Florida Marlins.
“The Cubs put the show on for the home folks Tuesday, and it was a rerun. They blew it again …” columnist Jerome Holtzman wrote in the next day’s Tribune.
The Tribune reported one vendor outside Wrigley Field was trying to unload tickets to the first home game of the season — an hour before first pitch. “Who needs Cub tickets? Less than face value!”
Cubs fan Brian Bonic admitted he showed up “a little underdressed” for the game: “He was wearing only two pairs of thermal underwear, two turtleneck sweaters and a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt to battle the gusting 31 m.p.h. winds, a 29-degree game time temperature and 1-degree windchill factor,” the Tribune reported.
Cubs players must have been underdressed for the weather too. Holtzman wrote the team had little, if any, 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.
Taking the brunt of the cold was Cubs center fielder Brian McRae, who said his hands were so numb that he struggled to hold the bat: “This weather isn’t conducive to a lot of hits.”
One fan claimed he would show up to the Friendly Confines for the Cubs home opener no matter the weather.
“We’re not here because they’re (0-7). It’s Wrigley Field. The Cubs. Opening Day. It’s part of the American tradition. We would be here if it was snowing,” Dan O’Toole said.
Another fan — a season ticket holder — didn’t care about the 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 had another 80 home games to attend that season.
“It’s absolutely too cold to sit there and watch baseball. I had the wind blowing right in my face, and we were in the shade. You can’t have a good time when you’re frozen,” Ron Rous said.
WARMEST: 65 degrees (April 8, 2019)
After a 2-7 start — their worst since 1997 — this was the win the Cubs needed. And it was dominant. It was a shutout. It was the largest shutout victory in a home opener in franchise history. It was also the first time since at least 1908 that four pitchers threw at least two scoreless innings in a nine-inning game.
The win arrived on a “picture-perfect afternoon” at Wrigley Field, according to Tribune columnist Paul Sullivan, before 40,692 fans.
“Everything went right for the Cubs, from the weather to the offensive explosion to the bullpen combining for seven shutout innings after (Jon) Lester injured himself scoring during the six-run second,” Sullivan wrote.
The hamstring injury would sideline Lester for 2½ weeks, but not even Cubs manager Joe Maddon was concerned about it after the game.
“Jonny is a great athlete. He got hurt. It happens,” he said.
The thing about Chicago weather, though, it changes quickly. Javier Báez — who got a hit on a bounced pitch — didn’t like the unsettled forecast for the team’s next home game.
“I just saw the weather for Wednesday, and it’s not going to be like this,” he said.
Source: Berkshire mont