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Cubs historical sleuthing: Damon Berryhill edition

This play wasn’t too hard to find.

JONATHAN DANIEL/ALLSPORT US

This description is posted verbatim from Getty Images:

CHICAGO CUBS RUNNER DAMONE BERRYHILL (LEFT) SLIDES INTO SECOND BASE, KNOCKING CINCINNATI REDS INFIELDER GESTER OFF HIS FEET, DURING THE CUBS GAME AT WRIGLEY FIELD IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.

Yes, it was in all caps, just like that. Also, “Damone” Berryhill isn’t right, though that would have been more fun than his actual name, Damon.

“Gester” — well, that’s a fun typo. The Reds fielder here is Ron Oester, the only possible player that could be, wearing a number that ends in “6” (he was No. 16).

All right, I’ve had my fun, let’s get down to business. Berryhill played for the Cubs from 1987-90. Oester played for the Reds from 1978-90, so it’s the four years of Berryhill’s Cubs tenure we’re looking at. Berryhill played in just eight games against the Reds at Wrigley Field in those four years, so I cross-checked those with the 14 games Oester played for the Reds at Wrigley in those four seasons.

There are five matches: September 2-3-4, 1988 and May 27-28, 1989. In all cases, these two players played the defensive positions they were known for, Berryhill catching and Oester playing second base. Let’s look at the games one by one.

September 2, 1988: Berryhill was 1-for-3, a single. The only time he was on base, there was a runner on the base ahead of him and he wouldn’t have been anywhere near second to break up a play like that.

September 3, 1988: Berryhill was 1-for-3, a double. That play is possible, but I think it’s more likely that the play we’re looking at here is when Berryhill walked in the second inning and was forced at second base by Shawon Dunston.

September 4, 1988: Berryhill was 0-for-2 and left the game early along with other starters in a blowout; the Cubs lost 17-0.

May 27, 1989: Berryhill was 2-for-4.

May 28, 1989: Berryhill was 1-for-4. The only time he was on base, on a single, he went to third on a single to left and an error on the left fielder.

This has to be the force play at second base Saturday, September 3, 1988. Berryhill must have gone in hard to try to break up a possible double play and succeeded. The weather conditions from the boxscore are 75 degrees and sunny, which could match what we see in the photo. In front of 33,087, the Cubs wound up losing the game 6-4.