Cubs Historic Photos: 13th In A Series

Here's a guy Cubs fans loved to either love or hate -- Dave Kingman. When he was hitting home runs, he was very popular (Vance Fothergill, then the Cubs' organist, used to play the theme from "Exodus" when he came to bat -- supposedly, "Exodus" from the ballpark was what Kingman was supposed to do with the ball).

When he was throwing TV producers off boats, he was less popular. True story. WMAQ-TV in Chicago was doing a documentary about Kingman; the producer was with him on his boat off the coast of California. For some reason he thought it would be funny to throw her into the Pacific Ocean. She was fine. And yes, I know this to be true because I had it told to me personally by the producer involved.

Anyway, can you narrow down the date? And just who is that behind the plate?

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The uniform of the catcher identifies the team -- those are the awful uniforms the Atlanta Braves wore for two of the three years Kingman was a Cub, 1978 and 1979 (note from the link, they changed in 1980, eliminating that year from this discussion). The Braves were at Wrigley in June and August 1978 -- too warm for Kingman to have been wearing long sleeves, and same thing for a July 1979 series.

So this has to be the May 1979 series. But which game?

The clue is in the catcher's number. The Braves had two primary catchers in 1979 -- Bruce Benedict, who wore #20, and Joe Nolan, who wore #11. But clearly, that's a single digit on that jersey.

It's Dale Murphy, who came up as a catcher, and caught 27 games early in 1979 before being moved permanently to 1B and later the outfield. (In fact, he never caught a game in the majors again after May 1979). Murphy caught the first two games of that series. The boxscore for the first one, Friday, May 4, indicates it was overcast that day.

So it has to be the game of Saturday, May 5. It's impossible to tell when in the game it was taken, though probably fairly early, given the angle of the sun. The Cubs beat future Hall-of-Famer Phil Niekro that day behind a CG from Dennis Lamp and four homers, though none from Kingman -- he went 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout. The photo appears to show a check swing.

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