Getty Images supplies the following caption to this photo:
Davey Lopes #15 of the Chicago Cubs gets back to first base beating the tag of Steve Garvey #6 of the San Diego Padres during an [sic] Major League Baseball game circa 1984 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Lopes played for the Cubs from 1984-86.
Even though at first glance, you might think that was a photo from the 1984 NLCS, I can definitively tell you it’s not. Why? Because the Padres didn’t start wearing that style of road uniform until 1985.
All right, so it’s from 1985 or 1986. Garvey played in all 12 Cubs/Padres games at Wrigley Field those two years, but we can eliminate the last series (July 21-23, 1986) because Lopes had been traded to the Athletics right before that set began.
That leaves nine games. Six of them were in early May (three in ‘85, three in ‘86) and the ivy is not that full in early May.
Lopes pinch-hit in the July 8 game and did not reach base. He didn’t play in the July 9 game.
So this has to be from the July 10 game. Lopes played left field that afternoon and had a really good day — 3-for-3 with a double, home run, walk and three RBI.
He doubled in the first inning, so it can’t be that at-bat. He walked in the second, but that pushed a runner to second base, so it would seem to me that he wouldn’t have been taking a lead where the pitcher would have thrown over in that plate appearance. He hit the home run in the seventh with a man on base. At the time, it tied the game. Keith Moreland followed with a homer to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead.
The remaining at-bat was a single by Lopes with one out in the fifth, scoring a run. Here’s where the shadow gives you a clue. This is a July game, starting at 1:20, running 2:23, so it ended just before 3:45. The middle innings would have happened around 2:30-2:45 and the shadow in left field seems to be similar to what you’d see at that time of year.
One of two things is being shown in this photo. Either it’s a throw over to keep Lopes close, or... he was doubled off first base when the next hitter, Moreland, hit a “fly ball” to shortstop (probably in short left field). I’m inclined to think it’s the latter. Lopes had a very good year for the Cubs in 1985, hitting .284/.383/.444 in 325 PA, with 11 home runs and 47 (!) stolen bases in 51 attempts. To this day that’s the single-season record for steals for a player 40 years old or older (nope, not even Rickey Henderson, the most he stole in a year after age 40 was 37). It also ranks as the eighth-most in a single season for any Cub since 1900.
Lopes and Garvey were Dodger teammates for 10 seasons from 1972-81 and played in four World Series together.