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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: The scoreboard in the 1990s

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This one wasn’t difficult, but there are a few interesting things to note.

There are quite a few interesting things about this photo of the Wrigley Field scoreboard.

At first glance, you might think it’s from the early 1980s, when Tribune Co. first put a small electronic display underneath the board, and the fact that the paint is so badly faded.

But then there are the team standing flags. There are 14 of them — so this has to be after 1993, when the National League expanded to 14 teams. Some of you might recall this Sports Illustrated cover from 1987, showing the Wrigley board:

Clearly, the photo at the top is from later than that due to the team flags. Not long after that SI cover appeared, the Cubs painted the board and for some reason, decided they couldn’t fit the entire words “SAN FRANCISCO” for the Giants, and so for a number of years that team was identified as “SAN FRAN” on the Wrigley board. Here’s a larger version of the photo at the top of this post so you can play along:

I decided the easiest way to figure this out was to look up Cubs pitchers who wore No. 35, since I already knew there weren’t many of them in that era. Sure enough, the only Cub who wore that number from 1993 through ... well, Cole Hamels, and was a starting pitcher, was Willie Banks. Banks pitched for the Cubs in 1994 and 1995 but didn’t start any games in 1995, so this has to be from 1994.

Off to his 1994 game log I went, and there was just one game he started against the Phillies at Wrigley Field that year: Monday, May 30. It’s definitely from that date; all the other matchups that day match what’s on the board, and so does the number of the Phillies starter, Bobby Munoz.

Turns out that game was Banks’ best start as a Cub. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, only to have it broken up by Kim Batiste with a one-out single, and wound up with eight shutout innings, just the one hit and three walks allowed and six strikeouts. The Cubs won the game 3-0. As for Willie Banks, he’s the second-best Banks in Cubs history.

The scoreboard clock shows no Cubs/Phillies game score and a time of 2:45, and that game indeed was a 3:05 date, on Memorial Day.

Now, why was Jack Brickhouse’s name on the message board? That one’s been lost to the mists of time. There was nothing in the Tribune archive about anything honoring Brickhouse that day, and nothing else online about it. This photo hangs on the wall at the Brickhouse Tavern at Gallagher Way.

The back of the scoreboard was completely rebuilt in the offseason of 2010-11 and repainted, and the team has kept up with that since then.