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Cubs history: Some fun with the original scoreboard, and a bit of historical sleuthing

Here are photos taken while the new bleachers were under construction in 1937.

When the iconic Wrigley Field bleachers were under construction in 1937, the scoreboard that had been in center field was moved to left field temporarily. This was done to make room for bleacher construction but still have a scoreboard for fans, as the construction was done during the season — and sometimes while games were going on!

That original board, at times, had team names instead of city names denoting out-of-town scores. (Personally, I think they should go back to that look.)

And that’s why I think the photo you see at the top of this post is so remarkable. It’s obviously not from a game day, because you don’t see it set up for out-of-town scores.

Instead, humorists from the grounds crew have apparently decided to have some fun with the team nameplates. The board clearly reads: “TIGERS YANK GIANTS,” the “YANK” being half of the plate that once read “YANKEES.” Love it.

Here’s another photo of that board during the time the bleachers were being built:

That’s a cool shot, showing the bleachers half-completed and only the steel superstructure of the current scoreboard. It’s obviously taken after a game, with final scores showing on the board in left field and the outfield sprinklers watering the grass.

This was easy to sleuth out. From the link above that noted some of the details of construction, it began after a doubleheader sweep of the Cardinals July 5, and was completed for another doubleheader, against the Pirates September 5.

The Cubs had only one homestand during that time of bleacher construction in 1937. In that era, teams often went on long road trips and had corresponding long homestands. The homestand in question lasted from July 27 through August 15. The photo has to be from after a doubleheader, because there are two final scores listed on the top line (the Cubs score was listed on top in those days). There were three doubleheaders played in this span, two vs. the Boston Braves (August 6 and 8) and one vs. the Cincinnati Reds (August 15).

The photo can’t be from the August 6 or 8 doubleheader, because the third line from the top clearly reads “BOSTON.” The Braves were playing at home that day.

So this photo has to be from the August 15 doubleheader. The matchups are CINCINNATI/CUBS, PHILADELPHIA/NEW YORK, BROOKLYN/BOSTON and PITTSBURGH/ST. LOUIS.

The Cubs got swept by the Reds that afternoon, 13-6 and 9-8, part of a stretch where they lost five in a row and eight of 11. That would turn out to be important, as the 1937 Cubs finished second, just three games out of first place.

Many thanks to @OTBaseballPhoto for sending both of these great historical photos along.