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Cubs historical sleuthing: Salazar edition

This Cubs player is not the guy named in the information given in the photo, which is why there’s only a last name in the headline.

JONATHAN DANIEL/ALLSPORT USA

Getty Images says:

CHICAGO CUBS INFIELDER LUIS SALAZAR #18 TAGS OUT MONTREAL EXPOS RUNNER JEFF HUSON DURING THE CUBS GAME AT WRIGLEY FIELD IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.

Yes, in all caps, just like that, that’s the way it was in our photo editor. Getty also says this photo was taken in 1988.

But Luis Salazar wasn’t a Cub in 1988 — he wasn’t acquired by the Cubs until August 1989.

Meanwhile, Jeff Huson played in exactly two games for the Expos at Wrigley Field in 1989 — September 11 and September 13. Huson didn’t start either game. On September 11 he was inserted as a pinch-runner with two out in the top of the ninth and the Cubs leading 4-3, and famously, Mitch Williams picked him off to end the game. On September 13, Huson was called out on strikes in his only at-bat.

Clearly, this photo isn’t from 1989, then.

What I had not remembered — and you probably didn’t, either — is that in 1988 the Cubs had a backup infielder named ANGEL Salazar, who had previously played for the Expos and Royals from 1983-87. The Cubs signed him as a free agent before the 1988 season. He apparently spent the entire 1988 season on the Cubs’ MLB roster but played in only 34 games. Back in the day with smaller pitching staffs teams could do that, keep a guy who was a defensive specialist (he certainly couldn’t hit, batting just .250/.262/.300 in 60 at-bats with just one walk).

Three of those 34 games played by Salazar were against the Expos at Wrigley Field in September 1988. Huson, who had made his MLB debut earlier that month, was Montreal’s starting shortstop in all three of those games.

So it was off to the boxscores to find a play at second base made by Salazar, with Huson apparently called out (given the look on his face).

This play happened in the top of the third inning Wednesday, September 21, 1988. Huson singled with one out. The next batter was Expos pitcher John Dopson, who struck out swinging, and Cubs catcher Damon Berryhill threw Huson out trying to steal second, with Salazar making the play.

The Cubs led this game 5-2 going into the ninth and then all hell broke loose because four Cubs pitchers faced 11 hitters before they retired the side. Included in the inning were five hits, a couple of walks, a throwing error (by Salazar!) and a wild pitch. The Expos scored six runs off Jeff Pico, Goose Gossage, Frank DiPino and Scott Sanderson and won the game 8-5. For Gossage — who had a terrible year in his lone season as a Cub and seemingly couldn’t wait to leave — it was his 10th blown save of the season.

The Cubs had entered September 1988 at 66-65, but far out of first place (11½ games). They went 11-20 the rest of the way. Yuck.