I found this photo on a closed eBay auction page with the title “BASEBALL CHICAGO CUBS WRIGLEY FIELD VIEW TOWARD CENTER FIELD ISSUED CIRCA 1955.”
That’s not even close to the right date and I don’t even have to look at the matchups to tell you that it’s not 1955.
Why? Because the board has the red stripes in the middle indicating the Cubs score, and that wasn’t the case until after MLB expansion in 1961.
So this photo has to be from after that. You can see NEW YORK on the NL side and the Cubs are playing LOS ANGELES, so it has to date from after 1962.
We also see LOS ANGELES (playing KANSAS CITY) on the AL side, and that means it has to be from 1965 or earlier, because the Angels became known as the “California” Angels beginning in 1966.
With that as a search base — four seasons worth — it was fairly easy to find. Despite being a bit blurry, you can read MILWAUKEE/NEW YORK, ST. LOUIS/PHILADELPHIA and SAN FRANCISCO/HOUSTON on the NL side and NEW YORK/DETROIT on the AL side, in addition to the KC/LA game noted above.
Here’s a sleuthing pro tip. Sometimes it’s easier to look at one of the other matchups known on the board and then see whether that matches with a Cubs home game that has the details we see. In this case, I looked at Tigers games hosting the Yankees from 1962-65.
The other clue that’s useful here is the batter number on the scoreboard — 38. There’s only one Dodger who wore that number in that time frame, a pitcher named Joe Moeller. That narrowed things down quickly. We’re clearly in the top of the second inning here and the Dodgers have already scored a run. So I looked up all games where Moeller pitched at Wrigley in those four seasons.
This game was played Tuesday, May 12, 1964 in front of a very small crowd of 5,699.
We are looking at Moeller at bat with a 2-2 count on him. There is a Dodgers runner on second base. That’s Dick Tracewski, who had hit an RBI single with Ron Fairly on third and John Roseboro on first. Tracewski advanced to second on an error, and we don’t see third base in this photo, but Roseboro would have been there if we could.
Moeller ended the inning by being called out on strikes. The Cubs pitcher was Bob Buhl.
The Cubs actually had the lead in this game at the time of this photo. Ron Santo had driven in two runs on a single in the bottom of the first. The Dodgers tied the game in the fourth, and that’s where it stayed until the bottom of the ninth. With one out in the ninth, Dick Bertell doubled and went to third on an error. The Dodgers then loaded the bases with a pair of intentional walks. Jimmy Stewart (not the actor) struck out and Joe Amalfitano came to the plate (pinch-hitting for Lou Brock!).
Richard Dozer of the Tribune tells what happened next.
... the easiest kind of ground ball was hit leisurely by Amalfitano to Dick Tracewski with two out and extra innings beckoning.
Tracewski dropped the ball. Still, there was time to get his man, as Don Landrum, Bertell’s pinch runner, made the routine dash to the plate and turned to watch Tracewski reach for the ball. But the Dodger second baseman couldn’t find the “handle,” Amalfitano was safe, and Landrum was home with the winning run.
The Dodgers had won 99 games and the World Series the previous year, but were off to a bad start. They were 10-16 after this loss. The Cubs were 10-11 after having had their first winning season in 16 years in 1963 (82-80). They had managed to reach .500 at 27-27 on June 14. The next day, as you likely know, they traded Brock to the Cardinals.
One last note about this photo: You can see an ad for RICKETTS on the house at the corner of Waveland and Kenmore. That was for a restaurant that was located at 2727 N. Clark, about a mile from Wrigley, at the time. That restaurant, which closed around 1970, has no relation to the current team owners. There’s also a WGN ad on that house, and WGN took over that entire rooftop ad space within the next year or so after the date of this photo.