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Cubs historical sleuthing: 1952 edition

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This one wasn’t too difficult to sleuth, but it’s definitely worth a look.

Perusing various baseball things on YouTube during the All-Star break, I came across this short video which includes some scenes of Wrigley Field from 1952:

The YouTube page says:

My Grandparents recorded this in 1952 on a trip to New York through Chicago and Washington DC. Pretty cool, in New York they took a river cruise and went by Yankee Stadium and across the river is the Polo grounds home of the New York Giants.

At :10 into the video you can see the marquee, then still painted bluish-green (it didn’t change to its now-iconic red until 1965). The Giants were the opponent, July 18-19-20 were the dates.

The Cubs’ 1952 schedule, though, says the teams played only on the 19th and 20th. Edward Burns of the Tribune noted what happened on the 18th:

It was the third shower of the day that so refreshed the Cubs, dampened the spirits of the New York Giants, soaked the umpires and most of the 20,000 ladies’ day patrons, and cruelly fatigued the Wrigley Field grounds crew. Before and scattered among three showers the Giants had fashioned a 3 to 0 lead, one run to each of the three innings played.

The umpires called the game at 3:45 p.m. and the management set Aug. 19 as the date on which the encounter will be played as part of a double header.

The Cubs had awakened from a 92-loss season in 1951 and were in contention early. On June 14 they defeated the Braves in 15 innings and were 34-19, just four games out of first place.

A nine-game losing streak followed, taking the team out of the pennant race. Does this sound familiar?

Anyway, the Cubs and Giants did play a pair of games July 19 and 20. The film that’s shown in the video had to be taken on the 20th, because it shows a fairly large crowd and attendance on the 19th was just 8,953.

On July 20, 29,927 paid to see the Giants defeat the Cubs 9-7. The Cubs fell to 45-42 and 17 games behind the first-place Dodgers.

The video includes exterior shots of the ballpark and a bit of pre-game practice. Just a few seconds of game action are shown, beginning at about :45 into the video. The batter is Hank Sauer, who would go on to win the NL MVP award that year, hitting .270/.361/.531 with 37 home runs and 122 RBI, the latter two figures leading the league. It was a 5.6 bWAR season. Sauer homered in this game, though it’s impossible to tell which of his at-bats we are looking at.

The 1952 Cubs had a bad August, going 15-19 (eight doubleheaders!) and lost the makeup to the July 18 rainout (they got swept in that doubleheader). They won their last two games of the season to finish exactly at .500, 77-77. It was the team’s only non-losing season between 1946 and 1963.