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Cubs historical sleuthing: Pete Rose edition

You might not think there are enough clues here, but you just have to know how to look.

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Here’s what Getty Images supplied with this photo as a caption:

Outfielder Pete Rose #14 of the Cincinnati Reds slides head first at home plate against the Chicago Cubs during a MLB baseball game circa late 1960s at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Rose played for the Reds from 1963-78.

Yep, that’s Pete Rose, and yes, that’s Wrigley Field.

“Circa late 1960s” isn’t much of a help. Here are the clues that pin it down.

The catcher has “2” as his second number. Catchers in the late 1960s (and early 1970s) who wore a number ending in “2” were John Boccabella, Gene Oliver and J.C. Martin. All wore No. 12.

However, Boccabella and Oliver barely played in the years they were Cubs backup catchers, as Leo Durocher seemed bound and determined to run Randy Hundley into the ground. Neither caught a single game against the Reds from 1967-69. It’s clearly the later years of this time frame, as the visible players all had long sideburns. That wasn’t really a thing in baseball until about 1969 or so.

Thus this almost has to be J.C. Martin. He caught five games against the Reds at Wrigley in 1970 and 1971 — can’t be 1972, as both the Cubs and Reds were wearing the beltless pants by then.

Also, you can’t see any number on the Cubs player backing up the plate, but that has to be Fergie Jenkins, there’s no one else on Cubs teams of that era who has that sort of bearing and stature.

So that leaves just one possible game: Tuesday, August 24, 1971, which also matches the large crowd we see in the photo (38,065).

Rose scored three runs in this game. The first was in the first inning with the bases loaded when the Cubs couldn’t complete a double play. That can’t be it.

The other two both say he scored from second on a line single to left. Which one is it?

Look at the shadows on the field — they’re getting kind of long. This game ran 3:09, so it ended after 4:30, as weekday afternoon games started at 1:30 in those days. Thus this has to be the run Rose scored in the top of the sixth on a single by Hal McRae. Tony Perez, the next hitter in the lineup, looks like he’s signaling Rose to slide. You can see the ball in the photo; obviously, it (or the tag) got there a bit late.

As it turned out, the Reds needed that run. It gave them a 5-3 lead. The Cubs scored a run with a bases-loaded walk with two out in the ninth, but Cleo James flied to left to end it.

After I finished sleuthing, I located an additional photo from this play that confirms it’s Jenkins (last number “1” on his jersey) and Rose sliding in safely:

Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

There were quite a few photos that are in our photo editor taken during that series at Wrigley; here’s another one I sleuthed here last February. It was during that series (the next day) that Ernie Banks hit his 512th and final home run and photographers might have been waiting for that. Oddly, there aren’t any available to me of that home run.