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Cubs historical sleuthing: 1940 edition

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This color film has some interesting action.

This will be an article about the Cubs’ “City Series” games against the White Sox at Wrigley Field October 1 and 2, 1940. That’s not in doubt, given the screenshot from the video I’m going to show you posted above.

The Cubs and Sox played these games virtually every October, except years when either team was in the World Series, until World War II interrupted and then ended the tradition.

Three years ago, I posted this article about a film discovered by Flagstaff Films, a company specializing in old baseball films, about the 1940 City Series. Now, I’ve come across another short film showing Wrigley Field on those days, and here it is:

First, you can see the exterior of Wrigley Field showing the dates of the Cubs/Sox contests, October 1 and 2. One thing you’ll notice is how faithfully the Cubs matched the look of Wrigley from that era in the restoration that was completed in 2019. You can also see the original blue/green color of the marquee — that wasn’t changed to red until 1965.

Then, the scene shifts to the interior of Wrigley. You can see the original brown color of the scoreboard and no clock (that was added in late 1941), and on it there are scores of two games. The Cubs score at the time was always top left, so the SOX/CUBS (clear that it’s two short names) score is on top.

What’s the other game? That has to be Game 1 of that year’s World Series, Detroit at Cincinnati, in progress. Since that game was on October 2, that has to be the date of the game we’re looking at in this short film, Game 2 of the Cubs/Sox City Series. You can see the game is in the top of the second inning at that point, with the Cubs in the field. Per Retrosheet’s play-by-play, Luke Appling had walked to lead off that inning, and Taffy Wright (No. 6) is batting. As shown in the video, Cubs center fielder Jim Gleeson has caught Wright’s fly ball for the first out of the inning, which matches the PBP.

For the last bit of the film, I’m going to engage in a bit of speculation, because it shows a foul ball. That wouldn’t show up in any PBP, obviously.

Per the Tribune, this game started at 1:30. Looking at the shadow, that would match what we’d see in the early innings of a game on October 2 (later in the game, the shadow would have crossed the third-base line). So I’m going to say this is from the bottom of the second inning. Per the PBP of that inning, Gleeson led off with a single and two outs later wound up on second base. That’s who we see on second as the next hitter, Bobby Mattick, fouls a ball off (the first base umpire clearly signals foul). Mattick eventually singled in that at-bat and a run scored. The Cubs won the game 8-2 in front of a modest-sized crowd of 6,800, but lost that year’s City Series four games to three.

Just another slice of Wrigley Field history, cool to see in color film from over 80 years ago.