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Cubs historical sleuthing: Dave Owen edition

This infielder wasn’t a Cub for very long. When did this play happen?

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Getty Images says:

Juan Samuel #8 of the Philadelphia Phillies slides into second base safe against the Chicago Cubs during a Major League Baseball game circa 1984 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The infielder identifiable in this photo is Dave Owen, who played for the Cubs from 1983-85. All right, now we have a date range that includes what Getty said in its caption.

Owen played in eight games against the Phillies at the Vet during his Cubs career, all in 1984 and 1985. Three of those games were night games, and this is obviously a day game.

Owen played third base in two of those games, so we can eliminate those as well, leaving three to look at.

Just in case you’re wondering — it looks like the Cub at the right isn’t wearing a glove, but that’s actually the umpire’s hand in the photo. The other Cub is clearly Ryne Sandberg in the background, not involved in the play.

Samuel had one stolen base in the three games. That happened June 2, 1984 in the fifth inning. The Cubs were leading 1-0 at the time; Samuel eventually scored to tie the game. The Phillies eventually won the game 3-2 on, what else, a two-run homer by Mike Schmidt in the eighth inning off Lee Smith.

There is one other possibility for this play. On July 25, 1984, Samuel hit a double in the third inning. It’s unclear whether that hit would have required the headfirst slide you see here.

So I’m leaning toward the earlier play, a stolen base on which that sort of slide happened fairly often in those days (and, still, now). It happened Saturday, June 2, 1984.

Exactly three weeks later, Sandberg and Owen would be involved in the game of their lives at Wrigley Field — Sandberg having the game that was eventually named after him, in which Owen drove in the winning run.