Enjoy the Last Time the Cubs Played Game 163, Beating the Giants 20 Years Ago for the Wild Card

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Enjoy the Last Time the Cubs Played Game 163, Beating the Giants 20 Years Ago for the Wild Card

Chicago Cubs

As much as we might want to rue the Cubs’ misfortune in having to play a one-game playoff to try to win the NL Central despite winning 95 games – no team in the NL won more this year – the Cubs will be in the postseason, in one form or another, for the fourth straight season.

The last time the Cubs had to play a Game 163, they were not in the midst of such a successful stretch. In 1998, the Cubs were coming off a woeful 68-win season in 1997, and had not been to the postseason since 1989, but had seen the emergence of a young stud in Kerry Wood, got big seasons from Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace, Mickey Morandini, Glenallen Hill, Brant Brown, and Henry Rodriguez, and had a very solid bullpen, headed up by Rod Beck and Terry Mulholland.

The 1998 Cubs were a solid team, but they lost six of their final eight games to fall into a Wild Card tie with the San Francisco Giants, who’d won 9 of their final 11. Thus, a Game 163 was needed to break the tie.

That game was played at Wrigley Field and aired on ESPN, with the Cubs needing to beat Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, and Dusty Baker to win the Wild Card (there was just one at the time), and the honor of facing the Braves in the NLDS.

With some magic from a 39-year-old Gary Gaetti – who was all-universe after a midseason addition – the Cubs won that Game 163. You could sense how long it had been for these guys, and even as I was only 16 at the time, I remember how overjoyed I was that I was going to get to see the Cubs back in the playoffs (my memories of 1989 were virtually non-existent).

Here’s the box score for the game, and the Wikipedia entry actually does a good job capturing the background and the game, itself.

Some highlights and some images:

Embed from Getty Images

(Getty Images)

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.