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Cubs historical sleuthing: 1990s scoreboard edition

When was this game?

Photo by John Reid III/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Getty Images says:

A general view of the bleachers at Wrigley Field in 1996 in Chicago, Illinois. Wrigley Field opened April 23, 1914 as the home of the Chicago Cubs.

Well, that caption isn’t quite right. Wrigley did open April 23, 1914, but as you know, for its first two years it was the home of the Chicago Federal League team, also known as the Whales. The Cubs didn’t move into Wrigley until 1916.

Anyway, here we’re more interested in the scoreboard than the bleachers, to determine when this photo was taken.

As you can see, this is a night game — the clock reads about 7:35. The Cubs are playing the Mets, and it’s 1-1 in the top of the second inning and the Mets’ Butch Huskey is batting.

The Cubs were limited to 18 home night games a year in those days, so this was fairly easy to narrow down. There were just two Cubs/Mets night games at Wrigley in 1996 and just one where the score was 1-1 after one inning.

That game happened Monday, August 5, 1996. The pitchers were Paul Wilson (Mets) and Steve Trachsel (Cubs). Alvaro Espinoza had homered off Trachsel for the Mets run and an RBI single by Ryne Sandberg tied the game in the bottom of the first.

Butch Huskey, the batter noted above, led off the second inning for the Mets. He grounded out to third base. The count shows 0-1 on the board; Huskey ran the count full before the groundout.

The Cubs eventually won this game 7-3. Mark Grace and Sammy Sosa homered for the Cubs, and future Cub Todd Hundley homered for the Mets. Neither team was anywhere near contention; the Cubs’ record was 54-57 after this win and the Mets dropped to 53-60.

Here’s the entire photo showing the sweep of the bleachers.

Photo by John Reid III/MLB Photos via Getty Images