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The day they saw a partial eclipse of the sun at a Cubs game

... and then the Cubs won one of the wildest games in their history.

Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

As you no doubt know, a total eclipse of the sun will be visible in portions of the USA later today, with a partial eclipse being visible in most of the country including the Chicago area.

One of the most memorable games in Cubs history was played on an afternoon when a partial eclipse streaked across much of North America, including the Chicago area, which received about 79 percent totality in the early afternoon of August 31, 1932. It peaked at about 3:20 p.m., which was not long after that day’s Cubs game against the Giants at Wrigley Field began. (Almost all games in 1932 began at 3 p.m.)

The Tribune ran a photo on the front page of its sports section (you can see that photo at this link) showing Johnny Moore, Frank Demaree, Guy Bush and coach Charley O’Leary viewing the eclipse through smoked glass before the game. You too will need that, or a special eclipse viewer, if you want to look at the sun during today’s eclipse. (Please, do that if you decide to look at the sun during the eclipse. If you don’t, blindness is a potential result.)

Also occurring around this time were some brief rainshowers, which didn’t delay the game but did affect some eclipse-viewing in the Chicago area.

The Cubs had won 11 in a row going into the August 31 game, and had a 7½-game lead in the National League. The Giants took a 5-3 lead into the eighth (the game was interrupted by rain in the third inning), but RBI hits by Charlie Grimm (eighth) and Kiki Cuyler (ninth) tied the game and sent it to extras.

In the top of the 10th, Bush came into the game and loaded the bases with a walk and two hit batters. A two-run single, a wild pitch and another two-run single plated four runs for the Giants, giving them a 9-5 lead.

In the bottom of the 10th, the first two Cubs were easy outs. Mark Koenig, who had joined the club only a couple of weeks earlier, homered to make it 9-6. Three singles made it 9-7 and put two runners on base for Cuyler, who had already had four hits in the game.

Cuyler hit a three-run walkoff homer, though the term “walkoff” wouldn’t be heard around baseball for many decades after that. It had begun to rain again in the late innings. The Cubs also batted out of order in the eighth inning, but no one noticed, so they got away with it.

Here’s how Tribune writer Edward Burns described the game-ending scene:

The pennant mad Cubs, led by Kiki Cuyler, a hitting maniac on as ferocious a rampage as baseball fans ever beheld, yesterday put all their previous electrifying finishes to shame when they made five runs in the tenth inning to defeat the New York Giants 10 to 9 and sweep the five game series. All the runs were sent on the way after there were two out in the tenth and after the Giants had made four runs in the top of the tenth.

Cuyler socked his fifth hit of the game, a homer into the center field stands, about 30 feet to the right of the scoreboard, driving in Herman and English ahead of him and winning the ball game.

Cuyler was mobbed by a crowd of admirers who had stayed through the rain that fell on the last three innings, and he was rescued by ushers with difficulty.

Now, imagine such a game occurring today. It would be legendary forever. Since there was no television in those days, no video or film exists from this game. And after the famous Gabby Hartnett “Homer in the Gloamin” game happened six years later, the Cuyler game was largely forgotten. It shouldn’t be — it’s one of the best games in franchise history. (Also of note regarding that quote: remember that the current center-field scoreboard did not exist in 1932. The board at that time was much lower, closer to ground level. Cuyler’s homer would have landed in one of the top rows in left-center, below the current video board location.)

Enjoy the eclipse of the sun today, whether you’re in the area that will experience totality, or if you’ll only get a partial eclipse. Much of the Chicago area will see close to 90 percent totality, more than the 79 percent seen in the 1932 eclipse.

There won’t, of course, be any eclipse viewing at a Cubs game today — the Cubs have the day off.