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Cubs historical sleuthing: Wrong name edition

The info that came with this photo named a person who doesn’t exist.

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Bettmann / Contributor

Getty Images says, of this photo:

Cubs Ryne Sandberg leaps away from Philadelphia’s Ian Matoac as he steals second base in the first inning of the game. Cubs won 9-4.

Not only can I assure you that no one named “Ian Matoac” ever played baseball, I am 100 percent certain that no human being by that name exists, or ever has. Googling that name comes up with... basically, this photo.

So, what are we looking at here? I started searching under the assumption that the other things noted by Getty — a first-inning steal by a Phillie, at Philadelphia, in a game the Cubs won 9-4 — were correct.

Here’s the full photo, as it didn’t all fit in the box at the top of this post:

Bettmann / Contributor

It wasn’t too hard to find this game. There was only one game during the time Sandberg would have worn that road uniform (1982-89) that the Cubs won 9-4 in Philadelphia.

That game was played Wednesday, July 25, 1984. Sure enough, there was a steal of second base in the first inning by a Phillie.

That Phillie’s name: Len Matuszek. I am not quite sure how they got “Ian Matoac” out of that, but that’s what it says. Also, you can see the “12” on the runner’s helmet and that’s the number Len Matusek wore for the Phillies in 1984.

Leon Durham had homered with a runner on in the top of the first to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead, but the Phillies came back with a two-run homer of their own by Juan Samuel in the bottom of the inning. Matusek singled and stole second after that but was stranded.

The Cubs scored two in the third, one in the fifth and then broke it open with a four-run sixth, highlighted by a two-run triple by Sandberg, who went 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Dennis Eckersley, who had given up the two-run homer in the first, settled down and allowed only three more hits in a solid seven-inning outing.

The Cubs improved to 56-42 with this win but were still second in the NL East, 3⅓ games behind the Mets. They wouldn’t move into first place to stay until the following month.

And now, Getty Images, you know who “Ian Matoac” really is.