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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: Halloween edition

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Here’s a fun photo that was easy to sleuth.

The Cubs have never played a game on Halloween — even in 2016, October 31 was a World Series off day. But I have a Wrigley Field-related photo for you this Halloween. There must be a story behind the photo, but it’s lost to the mists of time. The fact that the famous Wrigley Field scoreboard is visible in the background, though, got me interested in sleuthing this photo, so let’s go!

The caption posted where I found this photo was:

Mike Ditka in a Jack-o-Lantern head with Bears Tackle Bob Kilcullen at Wrigley Field

It sounds like something Ditka would do, but of course we’ll never know for sure if that’s Ditka underneath that Jack-o-Lantern head.

First, I checked online for photos of Bob Kilcullen. That’s definitely him on the left. Kilcullen was a defensive lineman who played for the Bears from 1957-66. Incidentally, he passed away just a couple of months ago, aged 83.

Ditka played for the Bears from 1961-67, so 1961 through 1966 are the possible dates of the games shown on the board. Off to pro-football-reference.com, the NFL-centric sister site to baseball-reference.com.

Here are the six games the Bears played against the Detroit Lions in Wrigley Field from 1961-66. Only one of them matches a time frame in which Ditka would have dressed up for Halloween. That game was played October 24, 1965. The other games listed on the Wrigley board match the games played that day. The other clue confirming this is the “GREEN BAY NEXT SUN” on the bottom of the board. The Bears did indeed play the Packers the following Sunday.

The Bears won that 10/24/65 game 38-10. Johnny Morris caught two touchdown passes, one of them from Jon Arnett, who was a running back. Gale Sayers, who would score six touchdowns in a game against San Francisco just a few weeks later, rushed for just 21 yards in the win over the Lions.

It’s impossible to say exactly which day prior to that game against the Lions this photo was taken; given the casual dress it was probably at a practice in the previous week.

Just a bit of fun and Wrigley history for your Halloween. Here’s a larger version of the photo.