Harry Caray led Wrigley Field in song for the last time 25 years ago Wednesday
CHICAGO – Every few games at Wrigley Field when the Cubs retire their opponent at the top of the seventh inning, the team does a throwback at Wrigley Field.
Instead of having a guest sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th inning stretch, they have a video of one of the team’s beloved announcers doing so during his time with the club.
That’s how iconic Harry Caray’s rendition of the song and his willingness to get the crowd involved was back then and remains to fans today. It wasn’t just on the north side where the announcer earned fans with his tradition in the seventh inning, since the announcer did the same as a broadcaster for the White Sox in the 1970s and the early 1980s.
Caray’s rendition was also embraced nationwide, so much so that Fox Sports created a hologram of the announcer to lead the fans in song at the Field of Dreams game back in August.
But the last time Harry was able to lead the fans in song was 25 years ago on Wednesday, when he stepped behind the microphone one final time for WGN-TV at Wrigley Field.
That was September 21, 1997, when the Cubs hosted the Phillies for their last regular season home game in what was a difficult season. The club began the year with an 0-14 record and never recovered, finishing 68-94.
But this day was full of sunshine with a high of 62 and the Cubs delivered on of their better performances of the season in an 11-3 win over Philadelphia. In the middle of the seventh inning, Caray performed “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” for the final time that year, and unbeknownst to anyone there, it would be the last.
Caray died on February 18, 1998 due to complications from a heart attack and brain damage just as spring training was to begin. The Cubs would then have guests sing the stretch after that, with his wife Dutchie serving as the first conductor for the home opener against the Expos on April 3rd that year.
This edition of #WGNTBT featured the last “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” from Harry 25 years ago on Wednesday at Wrigley Field. It was also the final home game of Ryne Sandberg’s career as he had previously announced his second retirement.
The future Hall of Famer finished his career at Wrigley Field with a fifth inning single off Curt Shilling. Sandberg was pulled from the game to get a standing ovation from the crowd. Replacing him in the lineup was current White Sox acting manager Miguel Cairo, who played for the Cubs that season and part of the 2001 campaign.
Larry Hawley has a lookback at this moment in the video above.
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