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Cubs historical sleuthing: Dizzy Dean edition

This long-ago photo can be narrowed down pretty well.

I found this photo on Twitter:

Dizzy Dean, long after his glory days with the Cardinals, had been acquired by the Cubs just before the 1938 season began in exchange for Curt Davis, Clyde Shoun, Tuck Stainback and $185,000.

That was a huge amount of money in those days, and roughly equivalent to $3.9 million today, still a pretty tidy sum.

Dean spent much of his Cubs career injured, as he had in his final St. Louis years, but still managed to post a 1.81 ERA in 13 appearances (10 starts), helping the Cubs to the 1938 pennant.

By 1940 he was just about done, and even if the year hadn’t been on the tweet I could have nailed this to 1940 because of the catcher’s number. Al Todd, who is the catcher visible in this photo, was the very first Cub to wear the now-retired No. 10, and he did that in 1940.

Since we can see no ivy on the outfield wall and at least one bare tree in the background, this has to be from the game played Sunday, April 21, 1940, attended by 22,338. The Cubs lost the game to the Cardinals 5-4 despite a ninth-inning rally that had runners on second and third with only one out.

Don Padgett, also a catcher, played for the Cardinals from 1937-41. He went 1-for-4 that afternoon, an RBI single in the fifth inning. It’s really impossible to tell which of Padgett’s at-bats this was; if I had to hazard a guess I’d say this might be the first one. In 1940, Sunday games began at 3:00. Sunset in Chicago on April 21, 1940 was 6:38 p.m. We don’t see any shadows crossing the plate area in this photo, and later in the afternoon — the game ran 2:22, so it ended close to 5:30 — such shadows would have been visible.

Just another slice of Cubs history from nearly 83 years ago.