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Cubs historical sleuthing: Bobby Murcer edition

This one got narrowed down quickly.

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Getty Images was quite detailed in the information provided with this photo:

Felix Millan #16 of the New York Mets throws to first base over the top of Bobby Mercer #7 of the Chicago Cubs during an Major League Baseball game circa 1977 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Millan played for the Mets from 1973-77.

Glad we know that’s in the “Queens borough” of New York City instead of somewhere else in NYC! (And yes, I know “Murcer” was misspelled in Getty’s info.)

Anyway, yes, Felix Millan played for the Mets from 1973-77, the last stop of his 12-year career that began in 1966 in Atlanta. 1977 was Murcer’s first year with the Cubs, so it’s got to be from that season.

Millan played in four games against the Cubs in ‘77. One was as a ninth-inning defensive replacement in a night game in July, so we can throw that one out. The other three games were in April, all day games. In one of those (April 17) Bobby Murcer did not reach base, so we can throw that one out, too. (In fact, the Cubs were one-hit by Tom Seaver that afternoon.)

On April 15, Murcer struck out, hit into a double play, homered and was intentionally walked (and eventually scored on the latter), so it can’t be that game, either.

The play you are looking at above happened Saturday, April 16, 1977 in the top of the fourth inning. Larry Biittner led off that inning with a double and Murcer singled him in to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Jerry Morales hit into a 6-4 force play and that’s what you see here, Murcer sliding into second as Millan attempts to complete the double play.

Unfortunately, that was the only Cubs run of the game. They lost 4-1. Murcer hit well in 1977 until August, when he inexplicably simply stopped hitting, one of the biggest reasons for the team’s 9-21 record after September 1.

It was a fun year anyway and this is a quick photographic slice of it.