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Cubs historical sleuthing: Another color video from the 1930s

Wrigley Field is the star of this film.

Flagstaff Films

The folks at Flagstaff Films have posted yet another fantastic color film from Wrigley Field from eight decades ago on their Twitter account.

Most of this video shows the New York Giants warming up for a game against the Cubs. Just one Cub is visible, briefly, No. 41 (John Bottarini). But there are some fascinating things about Wrigley Field that are visible here:

As noted in the tweet, the pitcher warming up is Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell. Another future Hall of Famer, Mel Ott, is visible warming up with a bat. What’s most interesting to me is the scene behind Ott as he swings the bat, from 0:11 to 0:18 in the video.

No, not the “RICKETTS” ad on the house on Waveland. We’ve been over that many times before; it advertises a restaurant about a mile from Wrigley that was owned by a Ricketts family that, to my knowledge, is no relation to the current Cubs owners. That restaurant closed in the 1960s.

What you see behind Ott is the bleachers under construction. I have seen still photos of that work, but never film, and certainly not color film. That construction, plus the teams visible on the scoreboard, allows us to precisely date this video.

Construction began on the original Wrigley bleachers July 9, 1937 and was completed September 5, 1937. Thus we can eliminate any Giants games except between those dates.

The Giants were at Wrigley Field for one series in that span, from July 30-August 1. Hubbell started the game Saturday, July 31, and I’d assume that he wouldn’t be warming up before any game other than one he started, so that has to be the date of this film.

Hubbell was a great pitcher but the Cubs pounded him on this day, scoring seven runs and defeating the Giants 7-1. Other Giants identifiable in this film are No. 2 (Dick Bartell), No. 10 (Harry Gumbert), No. 12 (Tom Baker) and No. 32 (coach Frank Snyder).

Many of the buildings seen in the background of this film are still standing; in the film’s last few seconds you can see the firehouse that still exists on Waveland.

The 1937 Cubs are mostly forgotten today, but they could well have won the N.L. pennant. After the July 31 win over the Giants they were in first place by five games. In fact, those Cubs went into first place June 15 and as late as August 22 had a four-game lead. But from then through season’s end the Giants went on a 31-12 run to win the pennant while the Cubs went 23-18, and the Cubs finished second, three games out at 93-61. (Sound familiar?)

Enjoy this slice of Cubs history, one of the earliest color films I’ve seen of Wrigley Field.