While you are enjoying your Thanksgiving Day, check out another historic photo of Wrigley Field, this one from 1975. A few things to look at before you go past the jump and find out exactly what day this picture was taken:
- Note the people in the RF corner sitting in the sunshine, while almost no one is sitting anywhere in the shade. This was a common practice in the 1960's and 1970's in the colder months of the season, when you could sit virtually anywhere in the ballpark. You can also see the corner of the upper deck, again, closed.
- Note the fashionable shoulder-length haircuts on many of the men in the foreground.
- Also note, not far from there, that some men in the mid-1970's still came to the ballpark in jackets, ties and fedoras. Some of these men were well-known in the bleachers as "the gamblers", and some of the characters in the play "Bleacher Bums", which was first performed in 1977, were based on these men.
- The basket, which had been installed only five years earlier, extended only to the edge of the bleacher seating area, not all the way to the foul line.
- Note the complete absence of anything on the rooftops.
After the jump you'll find out what day this photo was taken, despite the lack of any on-field clues.
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After George sent me this photo, we exchanged a few emails to determine what day it was taken. He remembered that it was during a homestand in late April vs. the Phillies, Cardinals and Mets. It couldn't have been either of the Cardinal games -- the Cubs opened the upper deck for weekend series. Taking a look at the rest of the games in that homestand, the only one that matches both the weather conditions and attendance was the last game of the homestand, May 1 vs. the Mets. Attendance was 5,637 -- as George told me, probably half of those were in the bleachers, and the game-time temperature was 50 degrees, warm enough to be in shirtsleeves in the sunny bleachers, but cool enough that fans in the other side of the park would have wanted to find any sun they could. Given the angle of the sun in the RF seats, this photo was probably taken fairly late in the game.
On that day, Steve Stone threw 5.1 decent innings and the bullpen shut down the Mets the rest of the way for a 5-2 win. It made Stone 4-0 with a 1.47 ERA -- after only 18 games! The Cubs were 13-5 after that win, and after defeating Houston on May 15, were 20-10, 3.5 games in first place.
It was a mirage. The '75 Cubs had a decent offense, finishing tied for third in the league in runs, second in walks (650 -- still the team record) and third in OBA. But the pitching staff was horrendous -- allowing 827 runs, 88 more than anyone else. From May 15 to the end of the season the Cubs went 55-77 and finished fifth. Stone went 8-8, 4.36 the rest of the year, although his overall 12-8, 3.95 season was the best of his three years on the North Side.
Hope you enjoyed this little slice of Cubs and Wrigley Field history. Happy Thanksgiving.