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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: National anthem singer edition

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I asked for photos... and you sent them!

Last week, I put out a call for you to send old photos of Cubs baseball or Wrigley Field and I’d sleuth them out for you.

Photos have begun to come in, and I’ll get to all of them, but I wanted to start with this fun story about a reader’s dad who sang the National Anthem at Wrigley Field in what he (the son) “believed” was 1985.

The photo at the top of this post is the reader’s dad with a couple of Cubs staff members, with the scoreboard shown in the background. It’s clearly a nice summer day and the ivy is fully grown in.

The Wrigley scoreboard is always the best clue for sleuthing, and thankfully, I was also sent a closeup shot of the board:

This is a great shot of the board before it was repainted in 1987. While Tribune Company had begun to upgrade the ballpark after taking over in 1982, some things got left for later. You can see how faded the letters and numbers were; it likely had not been painted since the board had been rebuilt for 12-team leagues in 1969.

Anyway, this one made it easy. Working off the “1985” clue, Dick Ruthven wore No. 44 for the Cubs that year. I checked all his starts for 1985, and found just one against the Pirates at Wrigley. The other games shown on the board also matched a 1985 date.

This game took place Sunday, June 9, 1985, in front of a near-capacity crowd of 36,475. (Remember that Wrigley’s capacity in 1985 was smaller than it is now). The Cubs won the game 5-1. It was Ruthven’s best start of the year; he threw six innings and allowed four hits and a run. Warren Brusstar threw the last three innings for a save. The Cubs were 33-19 after this win and in first place in the N.L. East by two games. It looked like they were on their way to another division title. Three days later they’d go on a 13-game losing streak that knocked them out of first place for good. They finished the year 77-84 and in fourth place.

Here are two more photos of Elwin “Curly” Stuemke’s big day at Wrigley Field, including one with Cubs manager Jim Frey. Thanks to Kyle Stuemke for the photos.

Again, if you have any old photos of Cubs baseball at Wrigley Field that you’d like me to sleuth, send them over!