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Cubs historical sleuthing: 1960s scoreboard edition

There’s a lot of great detail in this photo.

This photo was tweeted largely to show Pete Rose playing left field for the Reds, but what we’re interested in, of course, is that this was a Cubs game at old Crosley Field in Cincinnati.

Here are the sleuthing clues:

  • There are only 20 teams listed on the board. Thus, it has to be between 1963 and 1968, the earlier year was Rose’s first MLB season, the latter, the last with just 20 MLB teams.
  • No. 48 is pitching for the Cubs. There are two Cubs pitchers who wore that number in that time frame: Frank Baumann (1965) and Joe Niekro (1967-68). Baumann did pitch one game in Crosley Field in ‘65, but in the 12th inning. This game is obviously in the top of the fifth, so it has to be Niekro.
  • Niekro pitched in four games in Crosley Field in 1967 and 1968. Which one?
  • Note that there are numbers under “1st” at the end of the linescore. Thus what we are looking at is the second game of a doubleheader; the Cubs won the first game 8-4.

That last clue solves the puzzle. This is the second game of a doubleheader Sunday, July 30, 1967. The top six batters in the Cubs lineup are players who occupied those slots in hundreds of games in the late 1960s: Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks and Randy Hundley.

The batter is No. 20. That’s Adolfo Phillips, leading off the top of the fifth. The result of the at-bat was a groundout to second base. The other batter in the lineup (No. 25) is Ted Savage. The Cubs lost the game 3-2 and at the end of the day’s action were in second place 3½ games behind the Cardinals. They would go home to Wrigley after this series in Cincinnati and split the first two games of a four-game series vs. St. Louis, but followed that with a seven-game losing streak that pretty much ended any dream of a 1967 pennant, which was eventually won by the Cardinals.

Here is the tweet which is the source of this photo. I didn’t see the tweet before I sleuthed this — it has the date. Also, the tweet mentions the “slope” of the field. You can see that better here:

Crosley Field, famously, had an incline in the field sloping up toward the left-field wall, also known as a “terrace.” You can read more about it here.

This photo is a nice moment in time from more than 50 years ago.