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Cubs historical sleuthing: 1970 edition

This one was easy, even without a scoreboard in view.

Wikimedia Commons

There’s no scoreboard visible here, just a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, and not in recent times. It’s a color photo, so it can’t be real old-timey. With no board, we’re going to have to look at other things in the photo to determine the date.

It would have been much more difficult to figure out exactly what this photo is showing if not for the helpful caption where I found it: “Wrigley Field - Cubs vs. Reds 1970.”

The link goes further and says this is May 1970.

The Cubs and Reds played a four-game series at Wrigley May 7-10, 1970. This can’t be from either of the first two games because those games drew 16,101 and 13,377 and the crowd we see is much larger than that. It also can’t be the May 10 game because Fergie Jenkins threw a complete game that afternoon and that’s obviously not Fergie on the mound.

So this one’s from Saturday, May 9, 1970.

The scene shows a Reds runner on first base, the sun shining (there are shadows, but it’s not a bright sun, kind of a hazy sky), and no shadow around the plate at all. A righthanded batter with a number beginning with “1” is at bat. The batters boxes are still visible, so this has to be early in the game

Three players matching that description started this game: Pete Rose (14), Tommy Helms (19) and Dave Concepcion (13).

This has to be the top of the first inning. Rose walked leading off the game and Helms was the next hitter. That could be “17” at the plate, but no one with that number played in this game; it has to be the 19 worn by Helms.

Bill Hands is the Cubs pitcher. Helms hit into a double play in this at bat.

This is actually a significant game in Cubs history, probably why someone bothered to take photos there. It’s the game in which Ernie Banks hit his 499th career home run. That happened in the bottom of the seventh inning with Johnny Callison on base:

As I have written here previously, that one should have been No. 500, in front of a near-full house at Wrigley Field. Banks was cheated out of a home run the previous year in Montreal by Rusty Staub convincing umpires that somehow a Banks HR had actually gone UNDER the fence at Jarry Park. That’s pretty much impossible, and Staub, years later, admitted he had to walk away so no one would see him laughing.

The Cubs won this game 8-1. Banks went 3-for-4, including the homer, and Jim Hickman also homered.