Wrigley Field is steeped in his history, but the Chicago Cubs have been around a lot longer than their current home at 1060 W. Addison. We’ve compiled a list of the most notable home openers in Cubs franchise history, whether those games happened at Wrigley Field or elsewhere.
April 12, 1911 - Cubs vs. Cardinals at West Side Grounds
(aka West Side Park) which was located at the intersection of S. Wolcott Avenue and W. Polk Street (now part of the University of Illinois Medical Center.)
Starting pitcher Ed Reulbach was removed from the game in the 1st inning after giving up 2 runs without retiring a single batter. RHP Orlie Weaver came on in relief and proceeded to pitch 11 innings of 1-run ball. After the Cardinals scored 3 runs on the top of the 1st, the Cubs rallied in the 1st, 6th and 8th with RBI’s by Frank Schulte, Joe Tinker and Frank Chance. The teams played 11 innings, but the game called and ruled a 3-3 tie due to darkness.
April 20, 1912 - Cubs vs. Reds at West Side Grounds
The Cubs beat the Reds 5-4 thanks to a walk-off hit by Joe Tinker in the bottom of the 10th. The top of the Cubs order (Jimmy Sheckard, Frank Schulte & Joe Tinker) combines to go 5-12 with 3 RBI and 3 runs.
April 20, 1916 - Cubs vs. Reds at Weegham Park
This was the Cubs first game at Weegham Park (later renamed “Cubs Park”, and then christened “Wrigley Field” in 1926). With the game tied at 6 and 1 out in the bottom of the 11th, Cy Williams doubled to right field, and later scored the winning run on Vic Saier’s line-drive single over second base.
FYI: There is a very detailed account of the Cubs first game at “Wrigley Field” here.
April 24, 1918 - Cubs vs. Cardinals at Weegham Park
Cubs starting pitcher Hippo Vaughn (given name: James Leslie Vaughn) throws a complete game one-hit shutout as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 2-0. Vaughn would go on to lead the National League with 22 wins in 1918. The starting pitcher also scored one of Chicago’s two runs that day.
April 22, 1920 - Cubs vs. Reds at Cubs Park
The Cubs beat the Reds 5-4 in 11 innings thanks to Turner Barber’s walk-off triple off the right field wall that scored Buck Herzog. Grover Cleveland Alexander went the distance -- all 11 innings -- for the Cubs, picking up his first of 27 wins to pace the National League in 1920.
Interesting note: There was no ceremonial first pitch before this home opener, as Cubs President William L. Veeck thought the custom “tabooed.”
April 14, 1925 - Cubs vs. Pirates at Cubs Park
Thousands of fans heard the Cubs over the airwaves of WGN radio for the first time, and the Northsiders did not disappoint with a 8-2 win over Pittsburgh. The battery combo of Grover Cleveland Alexander and Gabby Hartnett both homer (Alexander in the 3rd inning and Hartnett in the 7th.) Alexander pitches a complete game while also going 3-for-3 at the plate.
April 12, 1927 - Cubs vs. Cardinals at Wrigley Field
The Cubs beat the defending champion Cardinals 10-1. Left fielder Earl Webb homers twice - a feat that would be bested 67 years later by Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes. RHP Charlie Root shuts down the St. Louis offense over 9 innings, picking up his first of 26 wins that season. The losing pitcher was former Cub Grover Cleveland Alexander, who had just pitched the Cardinals to the 1926 World Series over the Yankees.
April 12, 1933 - Cubs vs. Cardinals
Lon Warneke pitches a complete game shutout as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 3-0. The Cubs scored 3 runs off Dizzy Dean in the bottom of the 2nd inning, highlighted by a 2-run single by Gabby Hartnett and an RBI single from Warneke himself.
April 19, 1940 - Cubs vs. Cardinals
7 years after Warneke’s complete game shutout, lefthander Larry French does the same to St. Louis, leading the Cubs to a 5-0 win. French pitched his way to his only All-Star appearance in 1940.
April 17, 1945 - Cubs vs. Cardinals
All-Star second baseman Don Johnson delivers a 3-2 win with a walk-off single to left field that scored Bill Nicholson. This was the first of 98 wins for the 1945 Cubs as they went on to win the National League pennant, losing to the Tigers in the World Series 4 games to 3.
April 21, 1950 - Cubs vs. Cardinals
Bob Rush throws a complete game shutout in the home opener, leading the Cubs to a 2-0 win over the Cardinals. Rush was named an All-Star in 1950 despite leading the National League with 20 losses.
April 18, 1952 - Cubs vs. Cardinals
Entering the bottom of the 9th inning trailing 4-1, the Cubs rally for 4 runs to beat the Cardinals in comeback fashion 5-4. Hank Sauer led off the inning with a single to left field. Randy Jackson followed with a base hit to center field. Roy Smalley walked to loaded the bases before Bruce Edwards also walked to force in a run. After a fielder’s choice brought the deficit to 4-3, Bill Serena delivered a walk-off double to drive in pinch-runner Joe Hatten and Smalley.
April 20, 1956 - Cubs vs. Redlegs
Ernie Banks hit his first “home opener” home run -- a 2-run shot to deep left field in the 1st inning off Art Fowler -- to open the scoring for the Cubs. Chicago scored 6 runs in the 1st inning en route to a 12-1 win.
April 14, 1961 - Cubs vs. Braves
With 2 away in the bottom of the 9th and the Cubs trailing 2-1, Sammy Taylor hits a pinch-hit 2-run walk-off home run to deep center field to send the Cubs to a 3-2 win. It was the first of back-to-back walk-off homers for the Cubs, as Al Heist would hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 9th the very next day.
April 12, 1965 - Cubs vs. Cardinals
After falling behind 5-0 to Bob Gibson and the Cardinals, the Cubs rally and eventually tie the game with a 3-run home run off the bat of Ernie Banks. The game-tying blast comes with 2 outs and runners at first and second. The Cubs would fall behind again, but Ron Santo’s RBI double ties the game again in the bottom of the 11th. The 2 teams play to a 10-10 tie as the game is called due to darkness. The game was made up in full on a later date, but since the called game went beyond 5 innings all of the stats counted. The Cubs actually played 164 games in 1965, despite finishing with a 72-90 record.
April 8, 1969 - Cubs vs. Phillies
With the Cubs trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the 11th inning, Cubs manager Leo Durocher decides to pinch-hit Willie Smith for Jim Hickman with a runner at first base and 1 out. Smith delivers with a 2-run home run to deep right-center field and the Cubs win 7-6. The walk-off win sparked a magical summer for the 1969 Cubs. Ernie Banks homered twice in this game and drove in 5 runs.
April 6, 1971 - Cubs vs. Cardinals
This one was a classic pitchers duel between Fergie Jenkins and Bob Gibson. Each pitcher had allowed just one run heading into the bottom of the 10th inning. Then with 1 out, Billy Williams took Gibson deep to right field for a walk-off home run. Cubs win 2-1. It was the third walk-off homer of Williams’ career, but his first since 1964.
April 6, 1973 - Cubs vs. Expos
After scoring just 1 run over 8 innings for starting pitcher Fergie Jenkins, the Cubs rally for 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Expos 3-2. Tony La Russa scored the winning run for the Cubs as Mike Marshall walked Rick Monday.
April 9, 1974 - Cubs vs. Phillies
Bill Bonham pitches a complete game shutout with 9 strikeouts and just one walk, as the Cubs beat the Phillies 2-0. It was the Cubs first complete game shutout in a home opener since 1950. The Cubs scored the only runs of the game on an error and a botched pickoff play in the 1st inning.
April 13, 1976 - Cubs vs. Mets
On a Tuesday, Rick Monday delivers a bases-loaded walk-off single with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. The Cubs beat the Mets 5-4. 12 days later, Monday would save an American flag from being burned at Dodgers stadium.
April 14, 1978 - Cubs vs. Pirates
In front of a packed house of 45,777 fans (with an estimated 8,000 having SRO tickets) Larry Biittner hits a walk-off home run on a line drive to left field. The Cubs beat the Pirates 5-4 thanks to Biittner, who came into the game as an injury replacement after Bill Buckner hurt his ankle in the 1st inning.
April 15, 1988 - Cubs vs. Pirates
Rick Sutcliffe pitches a complete game shutout as the Cubs beat the Pirates 6-0. Sutcliffe had a career-high 12 complete games in 1988. This was the first Cubs complete game shutout in a home opener since Bill Bonham in 1974. Andre Dawson, Shawon Dunston and Dave Martinez all homered for the Cubs.
April 4, 1994 - Cubs vs. Mets
Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes enters his name into Cubs history with 3 home runs off Mets ace Dwight Gooden. Unfortunately the 3 homers were not enough as the Mets won the game 12-8. After 1 game, Rhodes was on pace for 486 home runs in 1994. He finished with 8. Tuffy was a 10-time All-Star in Japan, hitting 464 career homers.
April 1, 1996 - Cubs vs. Padres
The Cubs 1996 season starts with a walk-off win thanks to fan favorite Mark Grace. With the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 10th inning, Grace singled to left field off future Hall-of-Famer Trevor Hoffman to drive in Rey Sanchez from third base. The Cubs got a pair of home runs from unlikely sources in this game -- shortstop Sanchez (his only HR of the season) and catcher Scott Servais.
April 10, 2000 - Cubs vs. Braves
Pinch-hitter and backup catcher Jeff Reed plays the hero as the Cubs rally for 4 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to beat the defending N.L. champion Braves 4-3. Shane Andrews tied the game with a 3-run home run off Kerry Lightenberg before Reed hit a walk-off single to score Damon Buford from second base.
March 31, 2008 - Cubs vs. Brewers
With the Cubs trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the 9th inning, Kosuke Fukudome -- in his first major league game -- hit’s a 3-run home run to deep right-center field. Fukudome’s blast sends the game to extra-innings, but the Cubs would give the lead right back after a disastrous top of the 10th from Bob Howry. The Cubs lost the game 4-3, but Fukudome’s clutch homer will be remembered as one of the greatest debut performances in franchise history.
April 11, 2016 - Cubs vs. Reds
Addison Russell hits a go-ahead 3-run home run off Jumbo Diaz in the bottom of the 8th inning as the Cubs rally to beat the Reds 5-3.
April 10, 2017 - Cubs vs. Dodgers
The Cubs hang their “2016 World Series” banner and Anthony Rizzo hits a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th off Kenley Jansen. Cubs win 3-2 as Jon Jay scores the winning run. It’s the Cubs' first walk-off win in a home opener since 2000.