The Cubs got off to a great start in 1975, in first place as late as June 6, feeding hopes that they could revive their years of contention.
An 11-21 June took care of all that, "June Swoon" being locked into the lexicon of Cubs fans by then, and by late September, it was all the Cubs could do to try to stay out of last place in the National League East.
Thus the Cubs welcomed the also-bad Montreal Expos to town for a season-ending three-game series that was to begin on a Friday afternoon in late September. You wouldn't expect many to show up for such a game, and few did: the total that actually showed up with a paid ticket that day (remember, in that era only actual turnstile count was announced) was just 1,427, the smallest Wrigley crowd in eight years.
Here's how Bob Logan wrapped the game in the Tribune:
"April is the cruelest month," said T.S. Eliot. Obviously, he wasn't a Cub fan. That unhappy breed has suffered most during the month of September in recent years, while contending Cub teams slipped out of contention and noncontending Cub teams slipped into oblivion. Friday's futility in Wrigley Field was the 1975 season in capsule form: a fast, encouraging start and a slow, dreary finish. Montreal won 3-2 on Mike Jorgensen's run-scoring single in the 12th inning after his homer in the eighth produced a deadlock. "I always hit well against the Cubs," Jorgensen mused. "You don't want the season to go down the drain in the last few weeks, so you try harder."
I had a recollection of Jorgensen as a "Cub-killer" in those days, so I looked up his numbers. Sure enough, that memory turned out to be true. Jorgensen hit .268/.356/.447 with 15 home runs in 478 career at-bats against the Cubs, considerably better than his career line (.243/.347/.373). He was even better in Wrigley (.275/.363/.463, eight homers in 218 at-bats).
Steve Stone (pictured above), the Cub starter that day, was cruising with a three-hit shutout and a 2-0 lead entering the eighth. He then walked Jim Dwyer and Jorgensen hit his game-tying home run. The Cubs got the lead run on base in the last of the eighth, failed to score, and then went out 1-2-3 in the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th innings.
That was the Cubs of the mid-1970s. No wonder only 1,427 showed up. The Cubs lost to the Expos again the next day, also in extra innings, but beat them on the final day of the season to wind up in a last-place tie with Montreal.