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The highest scoring games in Cubs history: September 24, 1985

A future Cub had a big game on this September afternoon.

Andre Dawson at Wrigley Field as a member of the Montreal Expos
Getty Images

Coming off their division title in 1984, the 1985 Cubs were supposed to be strong contenders to repeat. But one by one, the starting rotation hit the disabled list and by the time the Cubs and Expos met for the second of a two-game set at Wrigley Field September 24, the teams were both just playing out the proverbial string.

The teams had played a high-scoring affair the previous afternoon, Montreal winning 10-7, but the September 24 game didn’t start out that way. The Expos took a 3-2 lead into the top of the fifth and it seemed like an ordinary late-season 1970s game, played in front of 6,947 at Wrigley.

Then the Expos blew the game open. And when I say “blew the game open,” I mean two Cubs pitchers almost literally couldn’t get anyone out.

Three future Cubs produced the first three runs. Mitch Webster and Vance Law singled and Andre Dawson homered, making it 6-2. After a strikeout and another hit, Fontenot was pulled and manager Jim Frey brought in Jon Perlman, who was the Cubs’ No. 1 draft pick in 1979. (Hint: Cubs draft picks under the Wrigley ownership were pretty bad.) Perlman pitched in only six games as a Cub and this one was likely the most memorable, if not very good for him. It was his fifth major-league game.

A single and an intentional walk loaded the bases, and Sal Butera’s two-run single made it 8-2. Expos pitcher Bryn Smith sacrificed the runners to second and third and Webster, batting for the second time in the inning, singled in both runs. Now it’s 10-2. Another walk put runners on first and second for Dawson, who homered again — two three-run homers in one inning! At 13-2, the Expos weren’t done. A single followed Dawson’s homer and Tim Wallach homered off Perlman to make it 15-2. Finally, Frey showed Perlman mercy and relieved him with Dave Beard, who struck out Andres Galarraga to end the inning.

A 12-run inning. There hasn’t been one at Wrigley Field in the 35 years since that afternoon. Dawson wound up with a three-homer game (as he had homered off Fontenot in the first inning) and eight RBI.

So this one was a cruise for the Expos, right? A 13-run lead in the fifth inning?

Well, not so fast. The Cubs scored one in the sixth and three in the seventh to make it 15-6. Butera homered with a runner on in the Montreal eighth to give the Expos an 11-run cushion again at 17-6, but the Cubs weren’t done scoring runs. In the bottom of the eighth, Thad Bosley led off with a single and advanced to third on an infield out and a wild pitch, where he scored on a single by Billy Hatcher. After another single by Gary Woods, Gary Matthews smashed a three-run homer to make it 17-10.

The Cubs had two runners on with two out in the ninth when Ron Cey hit a two-run single to make it 17-12. A walk, single by Chris Speier and double by Leon Durham brought the Cubs to within two runs at 17-15 and finally, the Expos had to bring in their closer, Jeff Reardon, to face the tying run, Steve Lake. Lake grounded out to end it; had the Cubs come back to win it would have been the biggest blown lead in major-league history.

Instead, it was just another defeat in a lost season.

There’s one interesting footnote to this game. This was the game where Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller spent part of his “day off” at Wrigley Field. Here’s the scene [VIDEO].

Now, if you look at the televised scenes closely, you’ll see the game shown is a Cubs/Braves game. That game happened June 5, 1985; the Cubs lost 4-2 in 11 innings. In the film, you can hear Harry Caray talking about Lee Smith pitching. That would have been the 11th inning — you can see Paul Zuvella (No. 18) on first base, and the batter who hits the foul ball is Claudell Washington. Smith eventually retired Washington, but the next hitter, Rafael Ramirez, homered off Smith to give the Braves the win.

The thing is, though — “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” didn’t film in Chicago until September 1985. The parade Ferris and his friends took part in was the Von Steuben Day Parade, which is (or, at least was back then) held annually on the third or fourth Saturday of September. That would have been September 21 or 28, 1985.

A number of years ago, I was looking into this dilemma and I got in contact with Ken Collins, who was the second assistant director on “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Here’s what he told me:

That ‘s me sitting in front of Ferris and Cameron wearing Raybans and a Cub cap. I put myself into the scene as an extra. Being an L.A. guy, I had wanted to wear a Dodger cap but John Hughes said no way! We started our shooting in Chicago on September 9, 1985. We definitely were at Wrigley on a game day. We started around 10 a.m. filming actor closeups and dialogue with a bunch of our extras in a specially designated part of the bleachers. When the game started, we grabbed some shots over the actors connecting them to the game and then we pulled out and moved up the street a couple of blocks to continue filming another scene. We left a camera behind to pick up some miscellaneous shots. We were close enough to the stadium to hear the crowd roaring and a lot of us continued to listen to Harry call the game. It got colder and windier and the game turned into a typical Wrigley slugfest where over 30 runs were scored. I’m pretty sure that the game was played on Sept. 24, 1985 and the Cubs lost to the Expos 17-15. We filmed the famous Danke Shoen-Twist and Shout sequence at the Von Steuben’s Day parade on the following Saturday.

The film shows a game from June likely because that would have been toward the end of the school year. But the actual filming was done in September, as Ken Collins noted in his email to me. Collins is a longtime assistant director in film and TV whose credits include the TV series “Homeland,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Remington Steele” and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.”

So, not only is this game one of the highest-scoring in Cubs history, but it’s got a connection to a popular film.