In recent years, a handful of Cubs games at Wrigley Field have been played in appalling, usually wintry weather conditions with cold temperatures, howling winds and constant rainfall. One of those was a particularly memorable one, a 14-10 win over the Braves in 2018. Another you’re probably familiar with came last week against the White Sox. In both of these cases, the make-up dates were difficult or impossible to arrange, so the games were played.
In 2003, however, this was generally not the case. MLB games just weren’t played in weather like this. And Sunday, May 11 — Mother’s Day that year — which was to be the third of a three-game game against the Cardinals, dawned with weather conditions expected to be much like those of the aforementioned two games. Although the temperature was announced at 53 degrees at the time of the game, it quickly fell into the 40s during the game. There was also steady rain and the wind was blowing straight through at 23 miles per hour with higher gusts, with the highest of those lakeside gusts measuring 47 miles per hour.
A number of us dubbed this “The Typhoon Game” because it felt like it was blowing through Chicago. At the time, I don’t think I had ever seen baseball played in such bad conditions.
The reason I’m writing this article is that I recently located a video of this game – posted by someone I don’t know, but also named it “The Typhoon Game” and had recorded all four game innings and preserved it for us to see now. Here is the full video:
It never stopped raining, but the Cubs kept going and started this game, and the umpires let it continue.
You can see it in the video above: Then-Cubs TV analyst Steve Stone called Moises Alou’s first-inning home run. Scroll down to around 6:00 p.m. in the video to hear Stone’s call. Four throws later, Alou puts a ball in the seats.
The 2-0 lead didn’t last long. The Cardinals scored five on the board in the second, including a grand slam from Albert Pujols. Corey Patterson homered late in the inning. St. Louis first baseman Tino Martinez (bet you don’t remember he played two years for the Cardinals) homered top of third, but Troy O’Leary hit a shot from two runs late in the inning, so it’s now 6-5 cardinals after three.
St. Louis had four more points in the fourth; Martinez hit his second homer of the game, a three-run blast, to make it 11-6. By the end of the fourth, the Cubs had scored three goals to bring the score to 11-9. One of those runs was scored on a sacrifice fly ball by relief pitcher Juan Cruz. During that play, Cardinals right fielder Eli Marrero was seriously injured. That’s what you see at the top of this article, a photo of Marrero being carried off the pitch. You can see this playback if you scroll down to about 1:20:15 in the video.
Marrero, who looked to be a strong MLB player in 2002 (.262/.327/.451, 18 homers in 131 games), suffered an Achilles tendon injury. At the time, the season seemed to be over, although he returned in September and had a pretty good year in Atlanta in 2004. He was never the same after the injury and he finished after 2006.
The teams completed the fourth inning. Alex Gonzalez homered with a runner to make it 11-9, then there were a few plays where Cardinals defenders were sliding all over the place – a catchable popup from O’Leary fell untouched between two of them .
After the fourth inning was over, the referees stopped play and it did not resume. According to the rules of the time, the game had to be invented and replayed from the beginning. It ended on September 2. The Cubs split that doubleheader but won four of five games in that series, which was a key turning point in the Cubs’ rush to the NL Central title, which they won in part by going 19-8. in September.
Tribune writer Phil Rogers, summarizing this game, noted MLB’s folly in not allowing games like this to be suspended and terminated later, which MLB finally did in 2021 and codified in the ABC this year. Here’s more from Rogers’ article:
Hoping to play five innings before heavy rain arrived, the Cubs started the Mother’s Day game on time despite turf saturated by heavy overnight rain, grass that was getting more slippery by the minute from steady fog and steady winds at 39. mph
“It was bad, really bad,” said St. Louis left fielder Albert Pujols.
“I don’t know why we started the game in the first place. Since we started, you’d think they’d at least get past the fifth inning for it to count.
Red Schoendienst, who played his first game at Wrigley in 1945, said he had never seen such strong winds at the old park. Ron Santo seconded the motion.
“I’ve played in the rain, the wind, the cold, when the grass was slippery and the base paths got sticky,” [Jim] said Edmunds. “But not all on the same day. All in all, I don’t think I’ve ever played in worse conditions.
This freight train of a wind roared straight from the southwest, toward the center and right field bleachers. This seemed to piss off the pitchers, who paid dearly for the pitches they left at home plate.
The teams had combined for seven home runs – with one in each half-inning after a scoreless top of the first.
None of those seven homers counted, nor did the 20 runs scored, since the game was erased and later replayed under the rules of the day.
However, Mike Bojanowski wrote down the score, on an increasingly damp sheet of paper (I never got my scorecard out that day), then transferred the score to the official scorecard, so that I can present them to you here, along with an image from today’s post, featuring then-director Dusty Baker.
It was a day that none of us who were there will ever forget, even though it didn’t officially enter the record books. It all happened 19 years ago today, Sunday May 11, 2003.