clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Cubs historical sleuthing: Ivan De Jesus edition

New, 17 comments

He had some good years for the Cubs.

Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images

Getty Images’ supplied caption with this photo says:

Ivan DeJesus #11 of the Chicago Cubs rounds third during an MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers circa 1979 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.

All right, there are some useful clues in the caption and the photo, though I should add that the “circa” dates on some of these photos have turned out to be wrong.

What do we see here in addition to De Jesus?

That’s Joe Amalfitano coaching third base, and Dodger (and future Cub) third baseman Ron Cey. De Jesus is rounding third base and the play appears to be coming from right field, as that’s where Amalfitano’s attention is focused. Cey is looking toward right field and the center fielder is not part of the play.

Amalfitano was the Cubs’ third-base coach for all of 1978 and 1979 and part of 1980, until he succeeded Preston Gomez as manager in July 1980. So 1979 could be correct. But to be thorough, I looked at all the Cubs/Dodgers games at Wrigley in those three years.

De Jesus played in all 18 such games. He does appear to be about to score a run — admittedly, he could have been thrown out at the plate — so I limited my search to games where he scored among those 18.

There were seven such games. I threw out two of them right away — May 2, 1978 and May 4, 1978 — because we see full ivy on the outfield wall and that wouldn’t have looked that way in early May.

There’s only one play that matches what we see here. It happened Sunday, June 10, 1979. In the bottom of the fifth with the Cubs leading 2-0, Barry Foote led off with a walk. Rick Reuschel tried to sacrifice, and wound up safe on an error. De Jesus then beat out an infield hit, loading the bases. One out later, Bill Buckner tripled (!) to right field, all three runners obviously scoring.

It would make sense for De Jesus to be motoring around third base, all the way from first, to score on a long hit to right field. Buckner, as you know, didn’t have much speed after numerous injuries, but he did hit a career-high seven triples in 1979.

The weather conditions reported in the boxscore (57 degrees, overcast) more or less match what we’re seeing here.

So the “circa 1979” turns out to be true. All that activity in that inning was off future Hall of Famer Don Sutton, who passed away earlier this week. After another walk and an RBI single by Dave Kingman, Sutton was removed from the game. The Cubs wound up with a five-run inning and won the game 10-3.

De Jesus, of course, was later traded to the Phillies for longtime shortstop Larry Bowa and some kid named Sandberg. That one worked out all right for the Cubs.