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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: 1990 edition

This is a really good overview of the ballpark from that year.

Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

Getty Images says:

Overall view of Wrigley Field taken during a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies in September 1990 in Chicago, Illinois.

This narrows it down quite well. The Cubs and Phillies played only two games at Wrigley Field in September 1990, both afternoon contests: Wednesday, September 12 and Thursday, September 13.

More or less the same, right? Even the crowd sizes were similar: 16,258 on Wednesday, 15,495 on Thursday. And remember, those were actual turnstile counts, the National League didn’t switch to reporting tickets sold until 1993.

Which one, then?

The clue is from the scoreboard. You can see that “NO GAME” is listed for some of the linescores. That means there wasn’t a full MLB schedule that day, and that matches the Thursday date, as all 26 MLB teams were in action that Wednesday.

Looking at the scoreboard again, it’s about 1:40 and the first inning has been posted. The Cubs are in the field, so the Phillies are at bat. There’s no one on base and no outs listed on the board, and a batter with a single digit number is shown. Thus, this has to be the leadoff hitter of the inning.

That makes this photo really interesting, because that leadoff batter was Dale Murphy, who had been traded to the Phillies from the Braves the previous month. Murphy, now 34, wasn’t near the hitter he had been in his prime in Atlanta, but he could still hit, a bit.

Rick Sutcliffe is about to deliver a pitch, and... know what? Murphy is about to hit that very pitch out of Wrigley Field for a home run. We know this because the PBP says Murphy hit the second pitch of the at-bat, and you can see a number in the balls column on the board. The count was 1-0 when Murphy homered.

You can see the closed-off center field bleachers before the juniper bushes were installed, but otherwise this view is not that much different from today’s, with the exception of larger bleachers and the video boards. It really does show how timeless Wrigley is.

The Cubs won this game 6-5. After the Cubs blew a 5-3 lead and the Phillies tied the game 5-5 in the seventh, an RBI groundout by Jerome Walton scored the winning run in the eighth. Les Lancaster finished up for the save... and Murphy made the last out, a ground ball to short.

Not that it mattered, both teams were well under .500 at the time and double-digit games behind the NL East-leading Pirates.

It’s hard to believe that game was more than 30 years ago.