CHICAGO – During his pregame news conference on Friday, David Ross had to take a moment to think about when a moment like this had happened while in the dugout at Wrigley Field.
Remember, the Cubs manager’s tenure began in 2020, when no fans were let into the ballpark to watch the team for 33 regular season and two Wild Card playoff games. So Ross had to take a moment to think about the last time he’s been with the team when the stadium could be at full capacity.
“I think it was the ring ceremony maybe for me in ’17. I was only in there for a minute. Then before that, being a player, was Game 5 of the World Series against Cleveland,” remembered Ross. “So when you talk about the memories I have from that moment, my heart starts racing and I get chills all over my body.
“So hopefully I get the same feelings today.”
That’s when the Cubs face the Cardinals with the ability to fill to capacity for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March 2020 on Friday. In that time, the Cubs have played 66 games with either no fans (35 in 20202) or limited capacity (31), all of which has come since Ross took over as manager.
The last time the Cubs were able to host full capacity was on September 22, 2019, which was the last home game of that season along with the final Wrigley Field contest for manager Joe Maddon. Coincidentally, they lost to the Cardinals 3-2, which was a part of a nine-game losing streak that took the Cubs out of playoff contention and ultimately led to Maddon not being retained.
Even with no fans or limited capacity, the Cubs have still done well at Wrigley Field the last year-and-a-half, sporting a 40-26 record. But with the fans back, the percentage is better, with the team going 21-10 in their 31 games in 2021 with limited capacity.
For Joc Pederson, who has only been an opponent facing the Cubs in full capacity contests at Wrigley Field, the prospect of a full house is quite exciting.
“It’s gonna be quite the event,” said Pederson, who joined the Cubs in 2021. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s gonna be rocking.”
Ross will appreciate the support as his team tries to hold onto a share of the lead in the National League Central division. Right now the Cubs are tied with the Brewers for the top spot with the Cardinals three games back.
“I’m sure it’s going to be loud. Sixty percent felt like full capacity, so I can’t imagine what today is going to feel like,” said Ross. “I’m excited. Hopefully, we’ll get to hear everyone singing nice and loud at the end of the game ‘Go, Cubs, Go.'”
Just like he remembers from a couple of years ago.