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Cubs historical sleuthing: Fergie Jenkins edition

I wonder if anyone still has the scorecard they got signed that day.

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Getty Images supplied the following information about this photo (as usual, fixed a couple of typos):

Pitcher Ferguson Jenkins #31 of the Chicago Cubs signs autographs for the fans before the start of a Major League Baseball game circa 1973 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.

Yes, that’s Fergie. Yes, he’s signing autographs. Yes, it’s Wrigley Field.

1973? Nope. Why?

Well, first, Fergie’s wearing a uniform with a belt. The Cubs dropped belts for the beltless look after 1971 (and didn’t return to belted pants until 1990). So it’s got to be from 1971 or earlier.

The next clue is the scorecard, which matches this:

The year’s not on the cover, but that’s the 1971 scorecard. So, we’re looking at Fergie signing autographs in ‘71. But when?

There were several photos taken of this particular autograph signing. Here’s another one:

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

On the scorecard facing the camera at the right, you can clearly read “CHICAGO CUBS vs. HOUSTON ASTROS.”

The Cubs played the Astros twice at Wrigley in 1971. The first series was in April. That’s definitely not April, not with the ivy as shown at the top.

The other series was in August, a four-game set that included a Friday doubleheader with a makeup game from a rainout during the April series.

Fergie pitched in Game 1 of the doubleheader Friday, August 20, 1971. It seems unlikely he’d be signing autographs while preparing to start, especially since he’s wearing some kind of windbreaker under his jersey — that’s not how pitchers dressed when they started, then or now.

So, it’s got to be one of the other two dates, Saturday, August 21 or Sunday, August 22.

The boxscore link for Saturday, August 21 says it was cloudy that day.

So this autograph session has to have taken place before the Cubs/Astros game on Sunday, August 22, 1971. The boxscore link says it was 78 degrees and sunny that afternoon, which matches what we see in the photo. The Cubs lost that game 4-3 and split the four-game series with Houston.

I wonder if any of those kids who got Fergie’s autograph that afternoon more than 50 years ago still have those signed scorecards. Here’s one more photo of Fergie signing that day, where you can get a much clearer look at the scorecard cover:

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images