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Cubs historical sleuthing: The revisited edition

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Last year, I found a photo I thought I couldn’t sleuth. That’s changed.

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Last year, I wrote this sleuthing article about a photo taken sometime in the 1960s. That one was fairly easy to sleuth. One of the things notable about the photo in that article is that there was no Astroturf on the center-field bleachers.

In the article, I posted the photo you see above. I mostly did that simply as a good view of that Astroturf, which covered that area from 1967 through 1981, and added:

And no, sorry, there’s not enough detail to sleuth that one, other than to say that it’s Tony Perez of the Reds at first base and Billy Williams running.

Having looked at that photo again, and consulted Mike Bojanowski, I think I do know exactly when that photo was taken.

First, the photo has to be either from 1967 or 1970-71. The Astroturf was installed in May 1967, so it can’t be from before that. Further, those are the only years that match those uniforms. The Cubs wore an Illinois sesquicentennial patch on the right sleeve in 1968, and If it were 1969, you’d be able to see the 100th anniversary patch on both players’ uniform sleeve (the Cubs wore it on the right, other teams on the left, if they didn’t have another sleeve patch on the left, which the Cubs did and the Reds didn’t). After 1971 both the Cubs and Reds switched to the beltless look.

Second, I narrowed this down REAL fast. Prior to 1972 Perez was primarily a third baseman. He played only THREE games at 1B at Wrigley in those years: August 23-24, 1971, and the 11th inning of this game June 13, 1971:

None of Williams’ plays in the August series seem to match the photo, which looks like Perez is taking a throw from the third baseman.

So then I thought — what if that’s not Williams? At first glance it appears to be a player with dark skin, but looking again, it might be late-day shadows making the player look darker. His uniform number is not visible at all.

At first I thought it might be Ron Santo or Jim Hickman, but the build of the runner doesn’t match either one of those guys. The way Perez is facing, it appears he’s taking a throw from third base.

So, I asked Mike to have a look at the games involved. Here’s what he found:

6/13: 11th Santo 5-3. 11th Hickman 5-3

8/23: 4th Chris Cannizzaro 5-3. 5th Glenn Beckert sac 1-3. 6th Cannizzaro 6-3. 7th Joe Pepitone 1-3. 8th Cleo James 5-3

8/24: 5th Beckert 5-3. 6th Santo 5-3. 9th Santo 5-3

So, the players possible are Santo (three times), Cannizzaro (twice), Beckert (twice), Hickman, Pepitone, and James (once each).

Mike thinks — and I concur — that this Chris Cannizzaro’s groundout in the fourth inning August 23. It matches the shadows, as that would have been about mid-game on that day, somewhere around 3:00 or so (the game started at 1:30 and ran 3:09).

The boxscore weather for that day says it was cloudy and 66 degrees at game time. A quick check of the Tribune archive shows a forecast of “mostly sunny” for that afternoon. It’s entirely possible the game could have begun with cloud cover and ended with enough sunshine to show the partial shadows visible.

Are we 100 percent sure here? No, but I’m going to go with 99 percent. The player has a similar build to Cannizzaro, who is listed at baseball-reference as being 6-0, 190. The Cubs won the game 6-3. Cannizzaro, for his part, was a Cub only briefly. He was acquired from the Padres for Garry Jestadt before the 1971 season, caught in 71 games, then was lost to the Dodgers on waivers after the season. He passed away in 2016.

Just another moment in time from a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, a groundout leading off the bottom of the fourth inning Monday, August 23, 1971.

Here’s a larger version of the photo above. For an even larger version click here.

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