Here’s what we are sleuthing today:
The description on the YouTube page says:
The Cubs play the NY Mets at Wrigley Field in July of 1971 in this Super 8 mm home movie. Many Cub stars are seen, including Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Don Kessinger, Joe Pepitone and Leo Durocher, with many others. The Rev. Jesse Jackson is also in the stands. The cameraman was Leo Carvis.
Super 8 was high technology in the early 1970s. This is a well-shot home movie, especially for the time. The color saturation is really good, those colors look quite true for the time. And Leo Carvis, who shot it, had a really good seat right next to the Cubs dugout. Also, don’t worry, there’s no audio on the original.
We’ve got the series in which this game was played. Now, let’s see if we can figure out the exact game. The dates were July 20, 21 and 22.
In addition to the players mentioned above, you can see Cubs pitcher Bill Hands (49) sitting at the corner of the dugout. He pitched in the July 21 game — so it can’t be that one. The boxscore for the July 20 game says it was cloudy that afternoon, and it’s obviously sunny in this film.
That pretty much clinches July 22, but as Mike Bojanowski once reminded me:
Try taking this one to a history professor as a proven claim, he’ll dress you down.
So let’s see if we can figure things out from things visible in the video.
At :17 there’s an interview going on near home plate, likely part of the Leadoff Man, WGN-TV’s pregame show. That’s Jim West interviewing Chris Cannizzaro, who had homered in the July 21 game, so it would make sense for him to be a pregame guest the following day.
At :58 we see a Cubs pitcher warming up. Milt Pappas started that game and that definitely looks like Pappas.
At 1:15 the Mets pitcher is warming up. He’s got a uniform number that starts with a “4” and the motion is unmistakeable. That’s definitely Tom Seaver. No. 7, the Cubs first base coach shown around then, is Peanuts Lowrey, who was a Cubs coach in 1970-71 and again from 1977-81.
At 1:37 you can see Cannizzaro (No. 43) rounding the bases with his second solo home run in as many days. That was hit off Seaver in the third inning. Unfortunately, Pappas had been hit hard and that only brought the Cubs to within 4-1.
At 1:57 a ball drops in short left field out of the reach of Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson and Don Kessinger pulls in to second base. That’s Cannizzaro again in the fifth inning. There are also shots of the WGN-TV broadcast booth, not well-lit.
At 2:23 we see a submarine pitcher throwing in the Cubs bullpen. No, not Ted Abernathy — he was gone from the Cubs by then. That’s Ron Tompkins, who pitched only in that season for the Cubs. He threw a 1-2-3 ninth.
Tompkins must have been warming up for a while, because before he entered the game, the film shows Joe Pepitone and Ron Santo both striking out swinging. That happened in the bottom of the seventh.
The Cubs wound up losing this game 5-1. At the end of the video you can see the team trudging toward the old clubhouse in left field. For those of you not old enough to remember, this was the way the team got to the clubhouse after the game until 1984, when a new clubhouse was built behind the third-base dugout.
This all happened Thursday, July 22, 1971 in front of 35,459. The Cubs were 53-44 and in second place in the NL East, but a whopping 10 games behind the first-place Pirates. After sweeping a doubleheader from the Astros August 20, they had cut the deficit to 4½ games, but that’s as close as they got, finishing 83-79, 14 games out of first place.