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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: Barry Larkin edition

The future Hall of Famer was in his first full MLB season.

\ Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Getty says:

Barry Larkin #15 of the Cincinnati Reds leads off second base against the Chicago Cubs during a game in the 1987 season at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.

Specific enough, I suppose, but not specific enough for me — I gotta know the date and play!

The Reds played two series at Wrigley in 1987 — one in mid-May, the other in early September. The ivy is quite full on the outfield wall so I’d say this has to be September. While there’s usually ivy on the wall by mid-May, it’s not that full.

Given that, there is only one play in the September series that matches this photo.

On Saturday, September 5, 1987, in front of 33,336, the Reds were leading the Cubs 7-2 going into the top of the sixth. With two out and no one on base, Larkin doubled. That’s the only time in the entire series that he was on second base without immediately proceeding to third. He was stranded when Reds pitcher Dennis Rasmussen struck out.

That game featured a pretty motley array of Cubs pitchers: Ed Lynch, Drew Hall, Dickie Noles, Mike Mason and Jay Baller. Given that, you will not be surprised to learn that the Cubs lost this game 10-5. That was one of the biggest reasons the ‘87 Cubs failed to contend even with MVP Andre Dawson. The pitching staff was atrocious, allowing 801 runs. Only the 92-loss Braves gave up more (829). Cubs pitchers have allowed 800+ runs only four times since then: 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2021, all awful Cubs ballclubs.