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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: Tony Perez edition

This future Hall of Famer was playing against the Cubs... but when?

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Once again, let’s begin with the Getty Images-supplied text with this photo:

First Baseman Tony Perez #24 of the Cincinnati Reds down and ready to make a play on the ball against the Chicago Cubs during an Major League Baseball game circa 1965 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.

I can immediately tell you that the year is wrong. The center field bleachers at Wrigley weren’t tarped over with that green artificial turf until 1967.

So it’s got to be after that, and before 1972, because both the Cubs and Reds began wearing the beltless-look pants in ‘72.

So we’ve got a five-season span. Also eliminated is 1969, because the Reds wore the 100th anniversary MLB patch on their left sleeve in ‘69, and that’s not visible here.

It’s also very obviously Don Kessinger leading off first base. Could be just about any time between 1967 and 1971, right?

Well... no. And that’s because Tony Perez was primarily a THIRD baseman until 1971. He didn’t become a full-time first baseman until 1972.

So I did a baseball-reference search for all games Perez played at first base at Wrigley between 1967 and 1971. Turns out there were only three: June 17 and August 23 and 24.

The latter rang a bell for me and I remembered this sleuthing article I did in 2020 that found the date for a photo of Ernie Banks at Wrigley in August 1971. There were a lot of photographers at Wrigley in late ‘71 looking for images of Banks, who was going to retire at the end of the season.

It was logical, then, to assume this photo was taken during that same series.

Kessinger was on base three times in those two games. Two of those times were in the late innings, though, and the shadows would hint at a play earlier in the afternoon.

In the game of Tuesday, August 24, 1971, Kessinger walked with two out in the bottom of the fourth and the game tied 3-3. Johnny Callison was the next batter, and he singled Kessinger to third, so we are looking at Kessinger leading off first base during Callison’s at-bat. He and Callison were both stranded when J.C. Martin flied to right. The Cubs eventually lost the game 5-3.

Just another slice of Cubs/Wrigley history. Here’s a look at the full photo, which I cropped to fit the space at the top of this post:

Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images