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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: 1940s marquee edition

The site where I found this photo has the wrong date.

This link is where I found this photo.

About the photo, it says:

This 8x10 photo is of outside Wrigley Field in 1930.

Nope nope nope, it’s not 1930. How do I know that? Because the famous Wrigley Field marquee, on which we see these dates, was not installed until 1934.

The next clue is the car, which appears to be a model from sometime in the 1930s, and the man standing in front of the entrance. Those would date this photo to the late 1930s through the early 1940s.

Searching through the Cubs daily game logs from that era, I found one possibility, but could only find a game from May 21 in that year, 1941.

Scrolling down the list of games from 1941, we learn that the game of May 22 was rained out and made up as part of a doubleheader June 15.

The scheduled May 21-22 series was in the middle of a long homestand — homestands back then routinely lasted more than two weeks, and this one was scheduled for 14 games (though two were rained out), so it’s not likely the photo was taken much before this two-game series. Thus I’ll date the photo to either May 21 or 22, 1941, and more likely May 21, since the May 22 game was not played due to rain.

The Cubs defeated the Phillies 7-2 on Wednesday, May 21, 1941. The Phillies scored two runs in the second inning to knock out starter Paul Erickson, who was replaced by a guy named Jake Mooty. who pitched in 74 games for the Cubs from 1940-43. He completed the rest of the game and got the win. Bill Nicholson, the Cubs’ big power hitter in those days, hit a grand slam in the fifth inning, part of a five-run inning that put the Cubs ahead to stay. Just 3,411 attended that afternoon contest.

Edward Burns wrote in the Tribune (capitalization as in original):

Bill Nicholson, whose only unhappiness in life is furnished by left handed pitchers, knocked a four run homer off Lefty Frank Hoerst yesterday to supply the Cubs’ margin of supremacy in a 7 to 3 victory over the Phillies in the opener of a two game series in Wrigley Field. This eighth homer of the year by the Maryland muscle man, which lifted his runs batted in total to 32, gave Relief Pitcher Jake Mooty his second victory of the season and ran the Cubs’ winning streak to four.

They don’t write ‘em like that anymore, that’s for sure. Nicholson hit 26 home runs that year and would lead the NL in homers in 1943 and 1944. His 205 home runs as a Cub still rank ninth in franchise history.

The Phillies were in a stretch of five consecutive 100-loss seasons in 1941 and that year, in fact, was the worst year in franchise history. They went 43-111 and finished last, 57 (!) games out of first place.

The Cubs never really got their heads above water that year; by late May they were double-digit games out of first place and finished 30 games behind the first-place Dodgers in sixth place in the National League.

One last interesting note about the photo: There was a mini-linescore board next to the marquee which undoubtedly kept passers-by up on the score of the game. I don’t know exactly when this vanished. It doesn’t show in this photo of the marquee during the 1945 World Series (although you can see in that photo where it used to be), so sometime between 1941 and 1945, it was taken down.