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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: Another marquee photo

Here’s one I hadn’t seen before.

This photo appears to be somewhat out of its time.

Looking at the top, at the marquee itself, it looks somewhat ancient. The paint on the marquee looks faded, and the shading of the letters doesn’t quite match.

On the other hand, scan down to the bottom of the photo — here’s the full version:

The hairstyles and clothes look fairly modern. The POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS signs are the same style as those the Chicago Police Department uses today.

I was going to start looking in recent times and then I realized exactly when this was. A two-game opening series is pretty rare, and the reason the Cubs had one in this particular season was because of a players’ strike.

This photo was taken Saturday, April 15, 1972, which was Opening Day due to the brief players’ strike that cancelled the first week of that season. It could be, though impossible to tell for sure, that this was taken just around the time the gates opened that day.

Due to the strike and uncertainty around that season, attendance for this game wasn’t very good for a home opener, just 17,501.

A classic pitcher’s matchup was set between Fergie Jenkins and Steve Carlton. Fergie left after six innings having allowed one run. Carlton departed after the eighth with a 2-1 lead. The Cubs tied the game on an RBI single by Glenn Beckert in the bottom of the eighth, but the Phillies plated two off Bill Hands (not usually a reliever) and Steve Hamilton, who had been a solid reliever for the Yankees in the 1960s but was just about done when he appeared in 22 games for the ‘72 Cubs before being released in August. The Phillies hung on for a 4-2 win.

You can’t tell by the way people are dressed in the photo, but the boxscore says it was just 47 degrees that day.

The next afternoon, Burt Hooton no-hit the Phillies on a raw, drizzly 40-degree Sunday afternoon.

The Phillies were an awful team in 1972, losing 97 games, the third time in four years they lost 95 or more. But Carlton had a magnificent year and won the NL Cy Young Award. The Cubs got off to a bad start, sneaked to within two games of first place in late June, then lost 22 of their next 34, resulting in the firing of Leo Durocher. They would finish a distant second in the NL East, 11 games behind the Pirates.