A Day In Wrigley Field History: July 1, 1958

Courtesy Mike Bojanowski

Something happened in Chicago baseball on this day that had never happened before.

With modern baseball scheduling -- and you know how often I've written about the way it seems so strange today -- dates on which the Cubs and White Sox both play in Chicago on the same day are commonplace. In addition to the four games they faced each other, the two teams were home on the same day nine other times in 2013, eight of them at the same time of day, probably the most in history.

The head-to-head thing is actually reasonably rare, and back in the 1950s it was unusual for the two teams to be scheduled at home on the same day, because the schedule was much simpler. Seven other teams in your league, you played them 22 times each, 11 at home, 11 on the road. Everyone played the same "strength of schedule." In general, back then, schedules made sense.

Thus the first day on which the Cubs played at Wrigley Field in the afternoon and the White Sox hosted a game at Comiskey Park at night should have been a big deal in Chicago, right?

Not really. The only mention of this event in the Tribune was a headline. "DAY - CUBS BEAT GIANTS; NIGHT - SOX WIN" and this lead-in to Richard Dozer's Cubs recap:

Chicago's first day and night major league games with both teams at home drew 33,188 Tuesday. The Sox outdrew the Cubs by 90 fans. The crowd at Comiskey was 16,639, while 16,549 watched the Cubs in Wrigley field.

Imagine a "first" like this in 2013. TV helicopters would hover. Articles would be written about fans who went to both games, possibly even live blogs by reporters and/or fans.

In 1958? Nada. The recaps of both games, following that short intro paragraph, didn't mention the crowds at all, just the facts of the game, and Dozer's reflected the times:

Moe Drabowsky has been neither henpecked by his wife nor defeated as a pitcher since his wedding last Saturday.

The sandy haired right hander was only a spectator for the final out, however, in a 9 to 5 victory over the San Francisco Giants in Wrigley field -- a battle of wind blown flies, eight home runs, and a lost fly ball in left field.

Edward Prell's Sox recap? Equally dull:

Twenty minutes from midnight Tuesday the White Sox wrapped up a 5 to 4 victory which two hours earlier seemed to be in the custody of Billy Pierce, who had a four run lead over the Cleveland Indians and was working on his fourth successive shutout.

The noting of the time of day was likely because night games were still fairly rare in the late 1950s; White Sox home night games began at 8 p.m. in that era (and, in fact, until the 1980s, still did). Three hours, 42 minutes, even for an 11-inning game, was unusually long.

I mentioned scheduling making sense back then ... but that wasn't the case in 1958, at least not for the Cubs. For the White Sox, this July 1 game came in the middle of a 20-game homestand. Yes, lengthy homestands were still the case for many teams in that time, when a lot of travel was still done by train.

The Cubs, on the other hand, were home for just that game and one other the next day against the Giants, in between a 12-game trip... and a trip to California to play the Giants and Dodgers, who had just moved there that year. It's likely that the move puzzled the schedule-makers, who were used to making schedules involving the Cubs and Cardinals as the westernmost teams in the National League, and now had to factor in trips to the West Coast, which could only be done by air.

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