So I’ve been searching far and wide for new photos to sleuth, and you never know what you’ll find on the internet (as you surely know).
Before I go on to this photo, since I’m running out of pics to sleuth, I’m going to ask again for your help. If you, the BCB reader, have any old photos of Cubs games at Wrigley (or even on the road) and you don’t know when they were taken, or would just like me to sleuth them anyway, send them over!
I found this photo on this tweet that was sent out during the 2016 World Series:
Cavaliers playing at Wrigley Field in 1970 for our @Cubs! #GoCubsGo #WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/Kjjg9PKK8z— The Cavaliers (@TheCavaliers) October 28, 2016
The Cavaliers are a marching band that still exists in the Chicago area — here’s their website and mission.
They did some of the work for me here, noting that this photo was taken in 1970. Now... historical dates like that can often slide a year or two, unless there are specific notes taken by the person or group owning the photo.
Nevertheless, this at least gave me a starting point.
It’s hard to tell here whether there’s ivy on the walls or not, and some of the people in the stands look dressed for summer, though at this distance it’s hard to tell.
One thing that’s certain, even at the low resolution on the board, is that on the AL side, the bottom line reads NEW YORK/BOSTON.
That’s a good place to start, then. When were the Yankees at Boston, for a day game, on a day the Cubs were also home that year?
The answer is Tuesday, April 14, 1970, and I have specific confirmation from the Tribune archive. That was the home opener that year, and from a preview article by Richard Dozer:
Game time is 1:30 p.m., but half an hour earlier, the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps will perform on the field, and when most of the other festivities are at an end, Lou Boudreau will put down his WGN mike long enough to throw out the first ball to Gabby Hartnett.
There’s your proof — the Cavaliers played on the field at Wrigley before that home opener. And it would have been cool to see Hartnett catch an Opening Day first pitch — he didn’t live much longer, passing away December 20, 1972.
The Cubs won this game 5-4 behind a complete game from Ken Holtzman, but it should be noted they nearly blew a 5-0 ninth-inning lead. You’ll remember Leo Durocher riding his players hard, and Holtzman had shut out the Phillies for eight innings on only five hits, and obviously in modern baseball — or many times even back then! — a manager would give his starter a break in the ninth inning.
Not Durocher — Holtzman went out for the ninth. Out of gas, he allowed a leadoff single, then recorded a ground out. A triple and single made it 5-2, and one out later a fellow named Rick Joseph pinch-hit for future Cub Larry Bowa and hit a two-run homer to make it 5-4. Holtzman, still in the game, got Denny Doyle to ground out to end it. If I had to guess, Holtzman, with three walks and seven strikeouts, probably threw 150 pitches. No wonder he asked to be traded a year later. The overuse probably contributed to his career being shortened; he was done by age 33.
The victory was the first of an 11-game winning streak that put the Cubs in first place by 2½ games in late April. They would lead the NL East until a 12-game losing streak in late June dropped them under .500, the likely origin of the Cubs’ “June swoon” meme. A late season surge wasn’t enough and they finished second, five games behind the Pirates.
One other note: You can see a full slate of 12 games on the board, but this list of results from that date show only 10 games were completed. Sure enough, Royals at Twins was postponed due to snow and Senators at Orioles, due to wet grounds.
Lastly, from a Tribune report the next day, Cooper Rollow wrote that the Cubs “demanded police protection” for the rest of the season due to fan rowdiness after the win:
Bedlam broke loose as hundreds of fans burst through the cordons of Andy Frain ushers along the first and third base foul lines after Kenny Holtzman had choked off a four-run Phillie uprising in the ninth.
Second baseman Glenn Beckert was assaulted by three persons who tried to wrestle him to the ground. Beckert freed himself and ducked a punch.
Fights broke out between ushers and fans. One usher was knocked down and kicked in the face. A fan either fell or tumbled from the stands and had to be hauled away in an ambulance.
One usher became so incensed at the menacing attitude of the fans that he stripped off his blue jacket and took a John L. Sullivan stance, daring the customers to come on the field and take him on.
Baseball was different 53 years ago, that’s for sure.