May 28, 1961 was another ordinary day in the ordinary slog of a bad Cubs season. The team lost 90 games for the second straight year, and that day, the Cubs dropped a 6-5 decision to the Giants in what was becoming mind-numblingly familiar fashion. Trailing 4-0 going into the last of the eighth, the Cubs tied it on an Ernie Banks grand slam. They proceeded to cough up that lead in the ninth, giving up two Giants runs before Ed Bouchee brought the Cubs to one run down with a two-out, solo homer in the bottom of the ninth. The Giants summoned Bob Bolin, who struck out Andre Rodgers to end it.
The 13,309 in attendance that day, though, had another story to tell when they got home. Here's how the Tribune reported it:
The Cubs had the hottest hot dogs in town yesterday. A portable vending wagon caught fire in the right field box section during the sixth inning and after Wrigley field personnel was unable to drown out the flames, fire laddies from the Waveland avenue station came charging in to cool off things.
* NOTE: I'd have written "personnel were", not "personnel was", but maybe that was Tribune style in those days.
If you're of "a certain age" you probably remember those "portable vending wagons" that used to roam the main aisle at Wrigley, particularly selling "Smokie Links." As Wrigley seating was changed and those aisles became narrower, it became impossible to wheel the carts in those areas, especially as crowds grew larger in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The practice ceased by the late 1970s.
Attendance was dropping again, too; the 673,057 drawn in 1961 was one of five seasons after World War II when the Cubs drew fewer than 700,000 fans. With 11 doubleheaders, the Cubs had 66 home dates in 1961, thus averaging 10,198 per date.