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Cubs historical sleuthing: Willie Mays edition

One clue gives the answer.

Photo by Hy Peskin/Getty Images

Getty Images says:

Willie Mays #24 of the San Francisco Giants bats during an MLB game against the Chicago Cubs circa May, 1960 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.

Presuming “circa May, 1960” is correct, I started looking there.

The Cubs played a four-game series against the Giants at Candlestick Park in May 1960, their first visit to the then-new Giants ballpark.

The clue that gives this away is the Cubs catcher and the “2” visible on his back. That has to be a two-digit number because of its placement on the left side of the jersey. The only Cubs catcher who wore a two-digit number in the 20s in 1960 was Moe Thacker, who wore No. 24.

Of this four-game series, only one was a night game, and clearly we’re looking at a night game here.

That game was played Tuesday, May 31, 1960.

And though there’s no action in this photo, we can pin this down to one specific Mays at-bat, because Thacker did not start this game. He entered the game in the sixth inning. Mays had just one plate appearance after that, in the bottom of the seventh. He walked. So that’s what we’re looking at in this photo.

The Cubs, who were not a very good team in 1960, actually won this game 9-1. Ernie Banks went 3-for-5 including a home run, and Bob Will also homered. Glen Hobbie threw a complete game, allowing six hits.

Oddly, the Cubs went 6-5 against the Giants at Candlestick in 1960, but just 3-8 at Wrigley Field. They finished seventh in the eight-team National League at 60-94, 35 games out of first place, just one game ahead of the last-place Phillies. The 94 losses matched a franchise record that had been set in 1956.