WGN-TV in Chicago on Saturday broadcast its last game from Wrigley Field as the station’s 71 year relationship with the Chicago Cubs approaches its end.
The station will broadcast two more Cubs games before the season ends, one from Pittsburgh and one from St. Louis. Next season games will be televised locally exclusively on the Marquee Network, the new regional sports channel being formed by the Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group.
The occasion was marked in a number of ways. Bob Vorwald, the station’s sports executive producer, led the traditional singing of Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh-inning stretch. Dozens of station staffers were in the bleachers wearing shirts with the Cubs and a big “9” on them. There was cake in the control room and as the game ended cameramen and technicians waved goodbye to the Friendly Confines.
The Cubs lost to their rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, making the Cubs returning to the playoffs less likely.
Coincidentally it was only on Friday that WGN went from being owned by Tribune Media--the station got its call letters from the Chicago Tribune’s self-description as the World’s Greatest Newspaper--to being owned by Nexstar Media. By swallowing Tribune in a $7.2 billion deal, Nexstar became the nation’s biggest broadcaster.
Tribune also owned the Cubs until selling the team in 2009.
WGN began broadcasting Cubs games on television in 1948. Radio station WGN-AM began its Cubs coverage in 1924.
In the last few years Cubs games have been appearing locally on NBCUniversal’s NBC Sports Chicago regional sports network, WGN and Disney-owned WLS-TV.