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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: All dressed up!

This is weird baseball. But there’s an explanation!


That’s obviously Wrigley Field, and it’s also obviously a bunch of men in suits, throwing a baseball around.

Who are these men and what was the occasion?

Now, I have cheated a bit with the photo up top because I have not shown you all of it. It’s from the Chicago Tribune and here’s the entire clip:

So, now we know who those men are (although “Myers” isn’t correct, it’s actually “Russ Meyer”), and we also know that these Cubs gathered for a brief snow baseball contest before heading on a train to spring training.

These five men were Cubs teammates in two seasons: 1946 and 1947. Thus, it was off to the Tribune archive.

This photo appeared on the front page of the Tribune sports section Thursday, February 13, 1947, noting that these players were photographed at Wrigley Field the previous day, so February 12. They were to leave at 8:15 p.m. on the 13th and arrive in Los Angeles Sunday, February 17th, then take a bus and boat ride to Catalina Island, the team’s training base through 1951.

I have always wondered about that. The Cubs couldn’t play games against other teams while training there; they had to wait until they were taking trains back to Chicago to find other teams to play. Was that a disadvantage? The team did win multiple pennants in the 1930s training at Catalina, but perhaps in the postwar era that changed.

One other thing about the photo: The contraption at the bottom of the scoreboard is the clock used for Bears games. You can see it better in the photo in this sleuthing post from last December. You can also see NEW YORK at the bottom left of the board and that would have been a leftover from the last NFL game played at Wrigley in 1946 — the New York Giants were at home December 1 of that year.

The Cubs had contended briefly early in 1946 but finished 82-71, 13½ games out of first place. That record wasn’t great, but still there was hope that the 1947 season would be better. It wasn’t. The ‘47 Cubs also contended early and were in first place as late as June 14, but after that date went 40-64 and would finish 69-85. They wouldn’t have a winning season again until 1963.