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Cubs historical sleuthing: Another early aerial photo

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This one was surprisingly easy.

On Friday, I posted this article sleuthing out an old aerial photo of Wrigley Field that had originally appeared in a post on the Southport Corridor blog.

That same post contained another early aerial photo of Wrigley Field, reproduced at the top of this post. For a larger version of the photo at the top click here.

Here’s why this one was pretty easy. The center-field seats are blocked off, meaning it has to be after April 1952, when those seats were closed. There are no concrete panels on the exterior of the ballpark. Those were added before the 1958 season, so there’s your date range: 1952-57.

The best clue, though, is on the marquee, where it says “ST. LOUIS” and then some numbers that are difficult to read, though they look like single-digit dates. The month looks like “SEPT.”

The only dates in this time span that matched a Cardinals series at Wrigley Field, with single-digit dates, in September, were September 2, 3 and 4, 1955.

My guess was September 2, and again I sent this to Mike Bojanowski for further analysis. Here’s what he sent back to me:

This is 9/2/55. I can make the following work, top to bottom, left: St. Louis/Cubs, Cincinnati/Milwaukee, Pittsburgh/Brooklyn, New York/Philadelphia. T-B, right: Sox/Cleveland, Detroit/Kansas City, Washington/New York, Boston/Baltimore. The resolution could be better, and I have been more confident with some of my other interpretations.

But, the thing that clinches it, on closer examination, is that the third line on the A.L. side shows a completed game with a final score. The Wash/NYY game that day was an afternoon game, won by the Yankees 4-2 in elapsed time of 2:04, thus it ended about 2:10 Chicago time, the board shows a time of approximately 3:40. The Cub game ended in a 12-2 win with a 2:20 duration, so it’s about to end here, and the line score looks about finished.

All other games 9/2 were night games.

This is going waaaay out on a limb, but we appear to have Cubs batting, bottom seventh or eighth. A two-digit uniform number on the board, with a shape suggesting an initial 4. That can only be Dee Fondy batting in the seventh.

One other thing that’s interesting about this photo: You can clearly see the terra cotta that was above the main entrance at Wrigley, and also continued down the left- and right-field sides. Most of this vanished in several ill-considered changes in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Cubs have done an excellent job in restoring this look, which dated back to the 1930s, in the current renovations.

And again, there are many buildings you can see in this photo on the various side streets that still stand, nearly 63 years later.