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Cubs historical sleuthing: Ernie Banks in Anaheim

Wait, what?

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Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Getty Images says:

Former great and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks #14 of the Chicago Cubs signs autographs for fans prior to a Major League Baseball game circa 1989 at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California.

So, wait. In 1989, Ernie was 58 years old. And why would he have been playing in a “Major League Baseball game” in Anaheim in 1989?

The answer is, he didn’t. The All-Star Game was in Anaheim in 1989, and as part of the festivities, there was an Old-Timers Game played. This was part of a series of Old-Timers Games played from 1986 to 1995 in various ballparks; here’s the list of games from 1989, which included a game at Wrigley Field August 12.

The photo here was taken before that Old-Timers Game played in Anaheim Sunday, July 9, 1989. That game took place before a regular season game between the Angels and Twins, which the Angels won 9-3.

As for the Old-Timers Game, the only report I’ve been able to find on it was this wire service story, which notes that 24 Hall of Famers played in a three-inning contest won by the NL 5-1. Banks contributed to that win, and so did Billy Williams:

The National League came back with five runs in the second inning off Dean Chance and Rollie Fingers. Billy Williams doubled and scored the tying run on a double by Bill Mazeroski, hero of the 1960 World Series. Lou Brock doubled home Mazeroski, then Ernie Banks’ RBI single scored Brock with the third run.

There are a couple of other photos of Banks I found when I came across the one you see above. This one could very well be that hit, and you’ll note that Banks is wearing Angels pants with his Cubs jersey:

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

This eBay link shows a photo of a pewter coaster that was given to all the players in the game. It’s still for sale, so you can own it if you like.

A game like this today would have video coverage as well as major media coverage. Instead, I had to do quite a bit of searching even to find that wire service story. It was a different time.