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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: 1929 edition

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This was an early version of a “hat trick” of sorts, but this photo wasn’t taken when Getty Images says it was.

Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images

Getty Images provided the following information for this photo:

Man holding two boater hats, standing amid other boater hats that are lying on the field in front of crowd in grandstands at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois, during a 1929 World Series game between the National League’s Chicago Cubs and the American League’s Philadelphia Athletics.

There’s no doubt that this is a photo of boater hats on the field at Wrigley.

However, I can say with 100 percent certainty that it was not taken during the 1929 World Series.

How am I so sure about that? This is how:

This is a closeup of the three players sitting on the edge of the dugout from the photo at the top of this post. That’s clearly a Cardinals uniform on the player in the background.

I am going to do the rest of this under the presumption that this was, in fact, taken in 1929.

Here’s what 1929 Cardinals uniforms looked like, from the “Dressed To The Nines” Hall of Fame database, so that’s a match:

The Cubs and Cardinals played 10 times at Wrigley in 1929, with the Cubs winning eight of the 10. In fact, the Cubs went 15-5 against St. Louis that year, their second-best mark against any team (Phillies, 17-5) and one of the reasons the Cubs won the 1929 NL pennant by 10½ games.

Those 10 games were played on eight dates (there were two doubleheaders):

April 21-22-23
June 18-19 (DH)-20
September 1-2 (DH)

It can’t be April, people are dressed for warmer weather, so that eliminates three dates.

The shadows on the field indicate it’s late afternoon, which would coincide with the 3 p.m. starting time that was the usual start time for Wrigley games in 1929... except holiday doubleheaders had morning games that began at 10:15 a.m. September 2 was Labor Day, so we can eliminate Game 1 on that day.

That leaves the June dates (the June 19 DH would have started at 1:30), September 1 and the second game September 2.

An article by Edward Burns in the Tribune of September 2, 1929 headlined “Cub Fans Prove Chicago’s Best Baseball Town” gives us at least a good hint, if not the final answer:

Yesterday they played to an overflow crowd of 43,000 at their homecoming. And if you were to judge by the behavior of this mass of fans, you’d think the boys were back from winning about 50 games in a row.

Every player was given a tremendous ovation on his first appearance at the plate and wild acclaim for each good piece of work afield and at bat. In the course of all this a ton or so of straw hats was cast upon the playing acreage.

Ah, ha.

There was no mention in the Tribune of any such straw hat display during the June series, which the Cubs swept.

The September 3 Tribune contains a photo of the straw hats being collected. Unfortunately, I don’t have the rights to reproduce that here.

So we’ve narrowed this down to September 1 or 2, 1929. I’m going to take an educated guess and say it’s the latter date, during the afternoon contest of the split doubleheader. It would seem likely that a photographer might have been sent to take photos of this phenomenon after it was reported in the paper that morning. Lastly, the weather reported for September 2 was sunny with temperatures near 90.

At what point of the game? Impossible to tell as there’s no view of the field in this photo. Again, strictly guessing: The Cardinals scored four times in the first inning of that second game, but the Cubs came back with five in the bottom of the second to take the lead, which they did not relinquish, winning 12-10. Included in that second inning: A two-out, three-run homer by Rogers Hornsby. That easily could have been a trigger for throwing all the hats on the field.

So that’s what I’m going with — all these hats likely were thrown onto the field in the bottom of the second inning of the second game of a doubleheader September 2, 1929, more than 92 years ago.