We remember this game as if it were yesterday.
It was a bright, sunny Tuesday afternoon, the second game of a doubleheader. This was just before the Wrigleyville explosion of 1989 and Cubs September bleacher tickets were easy to come by. Heck, since we didn’t go to the first game, we didn’t even pay for tickets, just went to Murphy’s and asked around. Some old-timer handed us four bleacher seats and only asked for an Old Style draft in return…which we were too young to purchase legally in any bar in America save Murphy’s Bleachers in the shadow of Wrigley Field.
It was only a month and half or so after the first night game ever at Wrigley and back then, the Cubs wouldn’t even turn the lights on if a day game leaked over into the evening out of 70 years of stubborn and glorious tradition. The second game of any doubleheader was still in serious danger of not being completed.
When we saw this bean-pole, lefty rookie warming up, we knew the Cubs would win and the ‘Bleacher Bum’ razzing began. There was no was this punk kid was gonna beat us in only his second professional start. NO WAY. Just look at that delivery. Are you joking? How tall is this moron anyway? This guy’s in the majors?
The Cubs were pretty woeful in ’88, but we parked ourselves in the left field bleachers ‘cause that’s where the home runs were sure to fly. We distinctly remember one friend who jokingly suggested we leave and go out onto Waveland, as the wind was blowing out, and we might have a better shot at catching Cubs bombs.
Three hours later, by the time dusk rolled into Chicago, the jeers had long since been quieted and we sat in stunned silence at the marvel that was Randy Johnson. We knew right that moment this guy was special. Instantly. The main worry was that he was in the NL East with the Cubs and how many years would he be doing this? It was literally breathtaking.
A complete game with 11 K’s, just 1 BB & 1 run.
It was the most astonishing pitched game we had ever seen live…until some kid struck out 20 Astros a decade later.
Then Johnson went out and beat the Cubs again six days later in Montreal.
The best thing that ever happened to the Chicago Cubs was Randy Johnson getting traded to the Mariners.